Introduction to New Testament History and Literature - Audio
by Dale B. Martin
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(RLST 152) This course provides a historical study of the origins of Christianity by analyzing the literature of the earliest Christian movements in historical context, concentrating on the New Testament. Although theological themes will occupy much of our attention, the course does not attempt a theological appropriation of the New Testament as scripture. Rather, the importance of the New Testament and other early Christian documents as ancient literature and as sources for historical study will be emphasized. A central organizing theme of the course will focus on the differences within early Christianity (-ies). This course was recorded in Spring 2009.
||01 - Introduction: Why Study the New Testament?||This course approaches the New Testament not as scripture, or a piece of authoritative holy writing, but as a collection of historical documents. Therefore, students are urged to leave behind their pre-conceived notions of the New Testament...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||02 - From Stories to Canon||The Christian faith is based upon a canon of texts considered to be holy scripture. How did this canon come to be? Different factors, such as competing schools of doctrine, growing consensus, and the invention of the codex, helped shape the canon of ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||03 - The Greco-Roman World||Knowledge of historical context is crucial to understanding the New Testament. Alexander the Great, in his conquests, spread Greek culture throughout the Mediterranean world. This would shape the structure of city-states, which would share ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||04 - Judaism in the First Century||Of the four kingdoms that arose after Alexander's death, those of the Seleucids and the Ptolemies are most pertinent to an understanding of the New Testament. Especially important is the rule of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who forced the issue ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||05 - The New Testament as History||The accounts of Paul's travels in The Acts of the Apostles and Galatians seem to contradict each other at many points. Their descriptions of a meeting in Jerusalem--a major council in Acts versus a small, informal gathering in Galatians--also differ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||06 - The Gospel of Mark||The Gospels of the New Testament are not biographies, and, in this class, we will be reading them through a historical critical lens. This means that the events they narrate are not taken at face value as historical. The Gospel of Mark illustrates how...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||07 - The Gospel of Matthew||The Gospel of Matthew contains some of the most famous passages that both Christians and non-Christians are familiar with. However, Matthew also presents itself paradoxically as preaching a Torah observant Christianity and a Christian mission...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||08 - The Gospel of Thomas||We've known of the existence of the Gospel of Thomas from ancient writers, but it was only after the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Codices that the actual text was available to us. The Gospel of Thomas is basically a collection of sayings, or logia...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||09 - The Gospel of Luke||Luke and Acts, a two-volume work, are structured very carefully by the author to outline the ministry of Jesus and the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles. The Gospel of Luke emphasizes the themes of Jesus' Jewish piety, his role as a rejected prophet...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||10 - The Acts of the Apostles||The speech that Stephen gives before his accusers in Acts shows how the author of Luke-Acts used and edited his sources. So, also, does the description of the destruction of Jerusalem in Luke, as compared to that in Mark. The major themes of Luke-Acts...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||11 - Johannine Christianity: the Gospel||The Gospel of John is a gospel dramatically different from the Synoptic Gospels. It is full of long dialogues, it speaks of "signs" rather than exorcisms or miracles, and its narrative differs at many points from the Synoptics. Themes in the Gospel ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||12 - Johannine Christianity: the Letters||The Jesus of the Gospel of John often speaks in riddles so that his dialogues with characters such as Nicodemus appear confusing and not clarifying. The focus, however, of the Gospel of John is on Christology. In the Gospel, Jesus is divine.||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||13 - The Historical Jesus||It is obvious that certain narratives in the New Testament contradict each other and cannot be woven into a historically coherent whole. How, then, do scholars construct who the "historical Jesus" was? There are several principles that historical ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||14 - Paul as Missionary||The New Testament and other texts provide us with many accounts of the Apostle Paul, some that contradict each other. Throughout the history of Christianity, Paul has assumed many different roles for different people. For the early Christians...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||15 - Paul as Pastor||1 Corinthian and 2 Corinthians give us several snapshots of the development of the Corinthian church and Paul's relationship to it. In 1 Corinthians Paul is concerned with controversies that have been dividing the church, most probably along social ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||16 - Paul as Jewish Theologian||The Apostle Paul's description of the Jewish Law in his letter to the Galatians demotes from being an expression of Jewish faith to an object of idolatry and one that imprisons those who follow it. Paul is careful to nuance this position, however, in ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||19 - The "Household" Paul: the Pastorals||In ancient times, documents that were falsely attributed to an author, called pseudepigrapha, were a common phenomenon. Both the Letters to the Colossians and Ephesians are most likely pseudonymous works attributed to the Apostle Paul.||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||17 - Paul’s Disciples||Early Christianity presents us with a wide diversity in attitudes towards the Law. There were also many different Christologies circulating in different communities. The book of James presents one unique perspective. It seems to be written in ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||18 - Arguing With Paul?||In the undisputed Pauline epistles, marriage is seen as a way to extirpate sexual desire - neither as a means for procreation nor as the preferred social status. The Pastoral Epistles, written to instruct in the pastoring of churches and appointing of ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||20 - The "Anti-household" Paul: Thecla||The Acts of Paul and Thecla has a narrative quite similar to those in ancient Greco-Roman novels: Thecla becomes enamored of Paul and they share a number of adventures. However, the Acts redirects eroticism towards a belief in a gospel of purity...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||21 - Interpreting Scripture: Hebrews||There are many ways of interpreting the text, and ancient methods of interpretation may seem bizarre to our modern sensibilities. The New Testament offers us many examples of how an early Christian might interpret the text of the Hebrew Bible...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||23 - Apocalyptic and Resistance||The principles of interpreting the New Testament in this course assume a historical critical perspective. The historical critical method of interpreting a text privileges the intended meaning of the ancient author, the interpretation of a text's ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||22 - Interpreting Scripture: Medieval Interpretations||The Apocalypse, or the Revelation of John, shares many of the traits found in apocalyptic literature: it operates in dualisms--earthly events contrasted with heavenly ones, present time with the imminent future, and it calls for cultural and political...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||24 - Apocalyptic and Accommodation||The Apocalypse of John showed an anti-Roman, politically revolutionary perspective. This is in contrast with Paul's writing in Romans 13, which calls for submission to governmental authorities - although passages in 1 Corinthians may be said to ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||25 - Ecclesiastical Institutions: Unity, Martyrs, and Bishops||The Epistle of Jude can be dated to somewhere during post-apostolic Christianity and before the formation of the Canon. It refers to the apostles as representing a prior generation, yet it quotes from texts later excluded (perhaps, for example, by...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
||26 - The "Afterlife" of the New Testament; and Postmodern Interpretation?||How did a small group following an apocalyptic prophet in Palestine become Christianity - what is now called a "world religion"? This small movement saw many changes in the second, third, and fourth centuries, from the development of different ...||10/12/2009||Free||View in iTunes|
This is hands down the best thing that has ever possessed my iPod! I chain-played the audio version, and now I'm going to go through the video version.
Dr. Martin takes you through the New Testament and early "Christianities" with an abundance of energy and knowledge. He makes you come at the Bible from a new way. You don't have to be religious; you just have to be interested in the Bible as literature or as history.
And it's free!!
Don't take my word for it, just start listening. You're wasting precious time...
This is the first time I have ever written a review, and it is only because this is hands down the most interesting college lecture I have ever heard. Not even courses from my undergrad or masters level courses compare to this lecture. I have learned so much that I truly never knew or picked up on. Deffinately recommend!!
De omnibus dubitandum
Though I have fallen away, I spent some time in a fundamentalist Christian church in my teenage years. The thing I loved about it, compared to the more liberal churches I had been raised in, was the honest spirit of inquiry I saw in the Bible study classes. People really wanted to argue about what the Bible said about specific things, rather than accept a dogma from some higher authority. Professor Martin brings this same spirit to his lectures. His lecture style is not authoritarian at all. Over and over again, he tells the class that their motto should be "De omnibus dubitandum" (Everything is to be doubted), and he is never shy about giving the class every opportunity to dispute his points. The only downside to this course is that I can not be physically present in his classroom to hear it, and join in the discussion.