Jesus and His Jewish Influences : The Great Courses: Judaism

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Jodi Magness
  • Series: The Great Courses: Judaism
  • 12 hrs and 10 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Jesus - a Jewish man from first-century Judea - was perhaps the most influential person in world history. His life and beliefs sparked a movement that influenced the course of global civilization, and his teachings gave rise to a faith currently practiced by over two billion people around the world. And yet, as revolutionary and lasting as his ideas are, few of us think to ask: Where did they come from?
It's important to realize that Jesus' actions and teachings didn't emerge from a vacuum. Rather, they were the products of a fascinating dialogue with - and reaction to - the traditions, cultures, and historical developments of ancient Jewish beliefs. In search of a more complete comprehension of Jesus' legacy, this course explores fundamental questions such as: How was early Judaism different from the Rabbinic Judaism practiced today? What kind of world did early Jewish sects envision, and how does Jesus' worldview relate to theirs? How did events like the Babylonian exile and the reign of Herod the Great affect the development of Judaism up to Jesus' time?
Follow an acclaimed archaeologist to unearth the roots of Jesus' actions and teachings within the traditions and beliefs of ancient Judaism. These fascinating 24 lectures approach the subject of Jesus from a historical rather than scriptural perspective - one rooted in ancient texts and archaeological discoveries. This investigation reveals hidden insights into how the tumultuous events of early Jewish history shaped an individual - and a movement - whose legacy endures to this day.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Christianity's cradle explored in early Judaism

When you hear the title of the course "Jesus and His Jewish Influences" you might think, "Another course on Jesus!" Prof Jodi Magness, Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism, UNC at Chapel Hill, surprises with a course that is actually more about first century Judaism - of which early Christianity was a part - than about Jesus.

In 24 half an hour lectures she introduces the listener to the Jewish world in which Jesus lived in. Early on you will come to understand the importance and significance of mountains to Jews, whereafter you will be introduced to a concise historical overview of second temple period Judaism. At the end of each lecture she will link it to Jesus.

Some of the more interesting lectures to me, was that of Alexander the Great's Impact on the Jews (lecture 7), especially the parallels she drew between Alexander and Jesus. In Lecture 11 she challenges the general view that Jesus came from the lineage of David, arguing forcably that as a Galilean his forebears probably was forcefully converted to Judaism, similarly as what happened to Herod the Great's parents. In lectures to follow she discusses the various Jewish sects from which Jesus could have come. She looks at the arguments for and against these origins for Jesus. I found lecture 18 about Pontius Pilate also very interesting, as she properly de-romantised him and places him in a convincing historical context.

At long last The Great Courses guides are also available in PDF format for download after you have purchased the title. I found that the guide was a good refresher after listening to the lectures. It helps you remember and revise the contents. For each lecture it contains questions about the contents and reading suggestions. The bibliography has an added explantion to each book quoted or used in the lecture series. I though the guide was not only very helpful, it brings a new dimention to the way I listened to the lectures. Furthermore it is informative as a stand-alone book also.

I can highly recommend this lecture series, as a window on the time around Jesus. It is just as important to understand Jesus' time as his words. Enjoy this listen!




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- Jacobus "When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else."

Poorest great course I've listened to

The title is "Jesus and His Jewish Influences," but this doesn't accurately describe the content, in terms of proportion, of the course. Most of the time in the lectures was spent giving historical overview and cultural overview, then perhaps 5 minutes, usually 2-3 minutes are spent wrapping up and making statements about the influence of these events on what we read about Jesus or His followers. The lectures could be very dry - presenting facts, not key ideas, concepts, or unique and stimulating thought. As a Christian I disagree with much of the content in many of theses religion/theology courses, but I can appreciate, most of the time, their logic, argument, and scholarship. However, this course was almost incoherent at times. It took me several lectures to catch on to the "approach." That is, give 25 minutes of history and tie it to a saying or account of Jesus. I felt the analysis of how it was tied to Jesus oftentimes very lacking. It was almost a foregone conclusion that the presented conclusion was correct. I'm sure Dr. Magness is a very bright scholar, but I do not think I will be getting another of her courses. I have high expectations from the great courses, and this one did not meet those expectations in the least.
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- Samuel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-11-2015
  • Publisher: The Great Courses