Story of the Bible [Audiobook]
2006 | Course No. 6252 | 24 lectures | Duration: 12:05:55 | English: MP3, 32 kb/s, 1 channels | + PDF Guidebook | 167 MB
Publisher: The Teaching Company
Series: The Great Courses
Lecturer: Professor Luke Timothy Johnson, Ph.D. – Emory University
Genre: Religion, History
Since the invention of the printing press, the world’s consistently bestselling book has been the Bible. Since 1815, it has been printed an estimated five billion times. By the end of 2005, it had been translated into 2,043 languages. In the Western world, the Bible is easy to find: In most hotel rooms, it is handier than the Yellow Pages.
And yet, what do many of us know about this ancient and influential text? Compiled over centuries, the Bible is considered to be both a divinely inspired message and the work of human authors. Throughout its history, it has grown from a collection of stories and teachings shared through oral tradition to a founding text for three of the world’s great religions. It has been copied and recopied into countless manuscripts, pronounced from the pulpit, studied in universities and synagogues, and read in private. Translated and distributed all over the world, it bears the mark of the many cultures that have debated its meaning and prized its wisdom.
In The Story of the Bible, renowned scholar Luke Timothy Johnson can illuminate for you the remarkable and complicated process by which this great book came into being. Tracing the development of biblical texts across millennia, Professor Johnson takes you on a journey from the farthest reaches of ancient history through antiquity and the Middle Ages up to the present. You’ll learn about the many forms the Bible has taken and the ways history, scholarship, and technology have helped shape this great tradition, as well as the Bible’s powerful influence on human history and culture.
Our journey takes us inside medieval monasteries where scribal monks copied scripture into beautifully illuminated manuscripts. We’ll venture into the caves of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls lay hidden for hundreds of years and examine how the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem forever changed the way the Jews read their sacred texts.
Throughout this enthralling story, you’ll develop a deep appreciation for the tremendous power of this astonishing book-one that has endured through centuries and touched the lives of countless millions.
From Spoken Word to Printed Page
The word Bible literally means "the book" in Greek, but throughout this course you’ll see how the Bible’s story is actually the story of many Bibles.
This fascinating saga starts in Israel, where the oral traditions of an ancient people were recorded as manuscripts and eventually collected into the Jewish Bible. From there, you’ll explore the place of the Bible in 1st-century Judaism as it was practiced in both Palestine and the Diaspora communities of the Mediterranean. You’ll learn about the competing factions within Judaism that argued for different interpretations of scripture and promoted different ideas about what constituted this sacred text.
Next Professor Johnson reviews the early history of the New Testament and describes the Hebrew and Greek sources used to build a new story on the foundation of the ancient Jewish tradition.
You’ll enter the world of the scribe and learn about the challenging art of manuscript production, in which anonymous workers painstakingly copied millions of words by hand using a reed or quill and ink on parchment or papyrus. Later we’ll see how future scholars fought to preserve these precious manuscripts from destruction, including the remarkable tale of Constantin von Tischendorf, who in 1844 rescued a 4th-century New Testament manuscript that was being used as kindling in an Egyptian monastery.
Professor Johnson also considers how the invention of the printing press forever changed the way the Bible was perceived and experienced, and by whom. You’ll see how this revolutionary innovation expanded access to the Bible to individual readers, and as a result contributed to one of the most influential movements in European Christianity, the Protestant Reformation.
Finally, our exploration of the writing of the Bible contemplates how over the centuries sovereigns, priests, and scholars have debated which texts deserve a place within the canon of scripture, and how to provide the most illuminating editions and most accurate translations for the world’s readers.
The Clash of Nations, the Lives of Common People
But our story of the Bible is not limited to how the words found their way onto the page. Throughout its history, the Bible has served as a powerful force, both reflecting and shaping the cultures that have read and embraced it. Over the centuries, perceptions of the Bible have inspired everyday men and women and shaped nations; they’ve sent nations to war and martyrs to their deaths.
We’ll learn the story of the Roman Emperor Constantine, whose conversion to Christianity transformed personal revelation into a revolution of imperial policy-and in the process elevated the status of the Christian Bible to sanctified state document.
But the story of Constantine is just one of many that illustrates how the Bible has been used to consolidate political power and create cultural unity during chaotic times. We’ll also see how biblical translation has been a battleground for controlling the meaning of sacred text, a struggle that reached its peak during some of the most important movements in Western history, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
But you’ll also hear about how the Bible has for centuries exerted its influence on people’s lives. From the Catholic liturgical calendar, to the daily prayers and observations of the medieval monastic life, to the vibrant theological debates that enlivened Jewish life in communities all over the world, scripture has shaped and enriched the lives of the faithful and stood as testament to the power of this astonishing book.
A Unique Perspective on One of History’s Greatest Stories
Even if you’ve already experienced our other courses on Judaism and Christianity, you’ll discover a whole new world of biblical scholarship in The Story of the Bible. Combining perspectives from history, anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, and textual criticism, Professor Johnson provides an innovative multidisciplinary examination of the Bible as he traces the impact of technology on the spread of Biblical knowledge, and examines how the Bible has shaped individuals’ lives, inspired artistic creation, and left its imprint on languages and cultures worldwide.
It’s a story that’s best told by an expert of Professor Johnson’s caliber. A noted Bible scholar and former Benedictine monk, Professor Johnson is both well-informed and passionate about his topic. Imbued with deep faith and enthusiasm, Professor Johnson is also objective and unbiased, demonstrating a profound appreciation of the cultures and denominations that have shaped the Bible. He’s also a gifted speaker who easily translates complicated scholarship into a compelling and accessible story. Throughout the sweep of centuries and nations, you’ll never lose your bearings with Professor Johnson’s helpful guidance.
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