Understanding the New Testament

Course No. 6006
Professor David Brakke, Ph.D., M.Div.
The Ohio State University
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Course No. 6006
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Discover the context for how and why the New Testament came to be.
  • numbers Study the Pauline epistles, and see why and to whom he was writing.
  • numbers Find out what we know about the authors of the gospels-and Jesus of Nazareth.
  • numbers Reflect on the diversity and unity within Christianity.

Course Overview

The New Testament is a fascinating book—the canonical root of Christian history and theology. Yet the book is also a paradox, because this single “book” is comprised of 27 different books by more than a dozen authors, each of whom has a different perspective and is responding to a different set of historical circumstances. How do you reconcile this diversity of voices into a single, unified belief system? And should you even try?

For historians, the diversity of authors is not a challenge to be reckoned with, but rather an exciting opportunity. In the New Testament, we have 27 primary sources that offer a doorway to the captivating history of the early Christian communities. In these books, you can discover how:

  • Christian practices developed;
  • Conflicts of belief were debated and addressed;
  • The institution of the Church evolved; and
  • A man named Jesus of Nazareth was transformed into the Messiah.

Join Professor David Brakke, an award-winning Professor of History at The Ohio State University, for Understanding the New Testament. In these 24 eye-opening lectures, he takes you behind the scenes to study not only the text of the New Testament, but also the authors and the world in which it was created. You will explore Jewish lives under Roman occupation, reflect on the apocalyptic mood of the first and second centuries A.D., and witness the early Christians’ evangelism beyond the Jewish communities.

Moving through the New Testament chronologically, starting with Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, Professor Brakke identifies the evidence for when each book was written, along with context that helps explain why each was authored. He also points out discrepancies in the narrative and helps identify the “why” behind the differing accounts.

You might think that a rigorous historical analysis would take away the mystery and magic of the New Testament, but as Professor Brakke ably demonstrates, a deep investigation shows just how extraordinary the New Testament really is. You will gain insight into issues that remain vital for Christianity today, from the tension between faith and works for salvation, to Christian relations with the government, to the role of women in the congregation. In Understanding the New Testament, you will witness the birth of a faith that continues to shape our world.

The Epistles of Paul: All about Audience

Beyond Jesus himself, the most important figure in the New Testament is the apostle Paul, who evangelized in the middle of the first century A.D. More than a dozen letters in the New Testament are ascribed to him (though he likely didn’t write all of them himself), and these letters collectively present a survey of early Christian theology, including:

  • The primacy of faith over works for salvation;
  • The relationship between Christianity and governing laws;
  • The nature of imprisonment and slavery; and
  • What it means to be a pastor or teacher.

In addition to presenting the content of Paul’s letters, Professor Brakke gives you the historical context around why they were written, and who they were written for. For example, as an apostle, Paul roamed the region, setting up one congregation after another. His letter to the Galatians serves as a rebuke to one of his congregations after he left. He believed the Galatians had backslid when some new preachers came to town, and he wrote the Galatians to reinforce his key message of faith as the means for salvation.

Throughout your investigation, you’ll also consider questions of authorship. While 13 books in the New Testament are ascribed to Paul, most historians agree several letters—such as 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus—were not written by Paul himself. Why were some of these letters possibly forged? And what does that tell us about the development of Christianity? What does it mean for our understanding of the New Testament?

The Gospel according to Whom?

The gospels are, of course, the heart of the New Testament, telling the story of Jesus of Nazareth, his life, death, and resurrection. As theological documents, they are rich with moral instructions and inspirational stories. As historical documents, they offer a tantalizing window into one of the most exciting periods in human history, in which one poor prophet in a scruffy backwater created a revolution that completely up-ended the old religious order.

By analyzing the four gospels as historical documents, you will run into a number of challenging questions, including:

  • Who wrote the gospels anyway?
  • When and why were they written?
  • Are they accurate accounts of the historical Jesus?
  • How do they tell a similar or, more interestingly, different story?
  • What do historians make of the discrepancies?

To help answer these questions, Professor Brakke offers plentiful explications of the texts. For instance, you will reflect on the story of the feeding of 5,000 as presented in Mark versus Matthew—and the theological agenda motivating each writer. You’ll also survey the grand historical narrative told in Luke and the Book of Acts, and see how the author was consciously creating a story with a point of view on the history.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the “synoptic gospels” and are quite similar. The Gospel of John, however, is an anomaly worth taking a closer look at. As you delve into this spiritual gospel, with its poetry and philosophy, you also must take into account its troubling portrayal of the Jews—and what that might mean for Christian history.

Thorny Issues for a Fledgling Religion

One key message Professor Brakke returns to throughout this course is the New Testament’s diversity—of authorship, of theological intent, and of literary form. Whereas the gospels present an account of Jesus’s life and the epistles offer a theological message, the Book of Revelation offers a prophetic vision of the end of days.

To understand this book—and the entire era of early Christianity—Professor Brakke takes you back to the Old Testament and God’s covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David. According to the scripture, the descendants of Abraham should have inherited freedom in Israel, a condition that was not true at the turn of the common era. The Romans controlled Palestine and many Jews were living in diaspora as a result of the Babylonian Captivity.

Perhaps out of a sense that things were not as they should be, the era was fraught with a mood of “apocalyptic eschatology”—a feeling that the end of days were near and that God would be sending a messiah. Hence, preachers like John the Baptist were promoting salvation through baptism.

As you will see, this sense of imminent doom pervaded the time of the historical Jesus, a time arguably right for a figure like Jesus Christ. In A.D. 70, the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, beginning a new religious era for Jews and Christians. This is the historical context during which the New Testament was written and codified, and through the gospels, letters, and revelations, you can see a fledgling church in formation—unified in spite of (or because of) the era’s diversity.

This tension between unity and diversity brings us back to the beginning. How do you build a unified church, with one path to salvation, in a world of different peoples, classes, and perspectives? This paradox continues to make the 27 books of the New Testament endlessly fascinating. Through Professor Brakke’s investigations, Understanding the New Testament will open your eyes to the many complexities of this book—and point the way toward a lifetime of further study.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Paradox of the New Testament
    The New Testament is comprised of 27 books by more than a dozen authors, yet it is also presented as a single, unified text. How do you resolve the paradox of one book versus many? In this opening lecture, see how historians view the New Testament and why they are excited by its diversity of voices. x
  • 2
    The Jewish Origins of Christian Faith
    Before delving into the New Testament, you first must look at ancient Judaism for context about the birth of Christianity. Here, explore key stories and themes of the Old Testament-including God's covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David, as well as Jewish eschatology-to understand the world of Jesus of Nazareth. x
  • 3
    1 Thessalonians and Paul's Ministry
    The New Testament includes many types of narrative, among them gospels, epistles, and revelations. In this first lecture on Paul's epistles, you will reflect on the chronologically earliest book of the New Testament. Examine the structure of a Pauline letter, and find out what his mission of evangelism was all about. x
  • 4
    The Salvation of Gentiles in Galatians
    Continue your study of Paul's epistles with a detailed look at his letter to the Galatians. In it, he offers a scathing rebuke to a congregation he believes has backslid after his departure. Find out why he believed it was so important to establish faith in Jesus as the one and only quality that gets you into heaven. x
  • 5
    Romans on God, Faith, and Israel
    Paul's letter to the Romans is his theological masterpiece. Because he had never been to Rome, he wrote this letter to introduce himself and his teachings to lay the groundwork for his arrival. Unpack the key message of his theology-namely, that one is made righteous solely through faith in Jesus Christ. x
  • 6
    Community Conflicts in 1-2 Corinthians
    In this first of two lectures about Paul's letters to the Corinthians, you will consider one tension inherent to Christian congregations. In Paul's theology, everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord, yet Corinth was a prosperous and diverse city. How did Paul reconcile economic, intellectual, and educational diversity with religious unity? x
  • 7
    Worship and Leaders in Paul's Congregations
    The two letters to the Corinthians give us great insight into Paul's theology, but they also provide interesting historical evidence for how early Christian congregations operated. How did believers worship? Who were the church leaders? What were the roles for men and women? Find out what the letters tell us about the community. x
  • 8
    Paul's Theology on Slavery and Christ
    Although Paul's letters to Philemon and to the Philippians are very different, they have two important things in common. Paul wrote them both from prison, and they each concern slavery. Gain insight into Paul's views around imprisonment, as well as his ideas about Christ's humanity and divinity. x
  • 9
    Adapting Paul's Teachings to New Situations
    Not all of Paul's letters were composed by the apostle himself. The three Deutero-Pauline" letters (2 Thessalonians, Colossians, and Ephesians) likely date to the years after Paul's death. In content, they seek to reassure readers that a series of events must occur before the end times arrive and that faith in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation in the present." x
  • 10
    Jesus as the Suffering Son of Man in Mark
    Shift your attention from Paul's epistles to the gospels, starting with the Gospel According to Mark. After reviewing what historians know about the author and the book's composition, Professor Brakke surveys the time of Jesus' ministry and death and explicates the key themes of Mark's gospel. x
  • 11
    Jesus as the New Moses in Matthew
    The unknown Christian who wrote the gospel now called Matthew presents a different theological portrait of Jesus and his ministry than Mark. Whereas Jesus in Mark is a mysterious figure, Matthew emphasizes Jesus' divinity. In this lecture, compare the two gospels and what scholars believe about their composition. x
  • 12
    The Church in the Gospel of Matthew
    Continue your study of the Gospel of Matthew, which gives us the only mention of the word church" in all of the four gospels. Consider Matthew's interest in forming and leading the church, and reflect on the conflict, in Matthew, between the Jesus who teaches Jewish law and the Jesus who critiques Jewish leaders." x
  • 13
    Luke and Acts on God's History of Salvation
    The Gospel of Luke is the first book in a two-volume work, the second being the book of Acts. Luke presents himself as a historian, so consider the two-volume Luke-Acts as a historical work. Who were Luke's sources? What story does he want to tell? How and why does his story unfold? x
  • 14
    Luke's Inclusive Message
    The grand narrative in the books Luke through Acts spans 60 years and presents a unified narrative of early Christian history. In this second lecture on Luke, look at the people and parables presented in his history-particularly the women, both named and anonymous, he writes about. Encounter a truly expansive, inclusive vision for Christianity. x
  • 15
    The Apostles and Church in Luke and Acts
    Because Luke was writing as a historian, probably between the years A.D. 90 and A.D. 120, he didn't merely re-create the past. Rather, Luke has a perspective on the history he tells. Unpack his vision of early Christian history and consider what message he is sending to his readers. Compare that message to the earlier Gospel according to Mark."" x
  • 16
    Jesus as the Divine Word in John
    The Gospel according to John" is an anomaly, set apart from the other three "Synoptic Gospels." Although the basic story of Jesus remains the same, running from the ministry of John the Baptist to the death and resurrection of Jesus, John's gospel contains more philosophy and has been called a more "spiritual" gospel." x
  • 17
    Jesus and the Jews in the Gospel of John
    In addition to its spiritual philosophy, the Gospel of John also contains troubling rhetoric around Jews and Judaism. Investigate the reasons behind John's depiction of the Jews and why it is so negative. See why John's portrayal of Jesus has made this gospel both an object of theological controversy and a source of deep spirituality. x
  • 18
    The Community of John after the Gospel
    What happened when an early Christian community began to fall apart? Disagreements over theology, challenges to church leadership, or disintegration of the group altogether were common, and the letters of John tackle these problems head-on. Delve into early efforts to unify a fractured church. x
  • 19
    In Search of the Historical Jesus
    The Historical Jesus" refers to the man named Jesus of Nazareth as opposed to the Christ we find in the gospels-a challenge for historians given that the gospels are our primary sources. Trace the development of biblical scholarship and research after the Renaissance and Enlightenment, when scholars began to think critically about the man named Jesus." x
  • 20
    Interpreting Abraham in Hebrews and James
    You might think of Abraham as belonging to the Old Testament, but he plays a mighty role in the writings of the New Testament. In the book of Hebrews, Abraham appears as a model of faith, whereas, in James he is an object of controversy over how people are saved-by faith alone or by faith and works. x
  • 21
    Churches in Crisis in 1-2 Peter and Jude
    Along with James and the three letters of John, 1-2 Peter and Jude are known as the catholic" or general epistles because they are addressed to multiple congregations, or Christians, in general. See what these most recent books of the New Testament tell us about a mature and growing religious movement." x
  • 22
    New Leaders in the Pastoral Epistles
    Paul's first and second letters to Timothy and the letter to Titus form a special group of epistles because they were written not to congregations but to church pastors, offering advice for how individual leaders ought to conduct themselves and guide their congregations. Together, they help us explore the development of an independent, organized religion. x
  • 23
    Revelation: Envisioning God's Reality
    The book of Revelation presents a complex; symbolic; and, at times, even bizarre vision of the present day and the future. In this lecture, Professor Brakke outlines why the Romans persecuted the Christians before turning to the content of Christ's revelation to John. Dive into this fascinating, challenging book. x
  • 24
    The Quest for Unity in the New Testament
    In this final lecture, revisit the paradox between the New Testament's diversity and unity, a single text comprised of 27 different books. See how theologians and scholars over the years have tackled this paradox. Examples include the Christian leaders Irenaeus, Origen, and Martin Luther, as well as modern historical researchers. x

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Your professor

David Brakke

About Your Professor

David Brakke, Ph.D., M.Div.
The Ohio State University
Professor David Brakke is the Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History at The Ohio State University. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Virginia, his M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University. He taught for 19 years in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University. Professor Brakke has published...
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Understanding the New Testament is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 41.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspirational information This course exceeded my expectations in providing important information that is not included in regular Bible studies. The presentation provides insight into the history of early Christianity and the challenges of the early believers.
Date published: 2020-06-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good Only as a Supplement Dr. Bakke approaches this course as a critical scholar/historian. He says, “Historians, however, don’t treat any text as infallible nor do we make arguments based on divine causation.” By precluding “divine causation,” he makes this a history course and *not* a religion course. He says that the Gospel writers did not worry about whether the events they described really happened. He says that stories of miracles are “products of the religious imagination.” A historical analysis can provide valuable insight into a religion or into a religious text, but that presumes a basic understanding of the religion. TGC does not offer much on what Christians themselves believe (as opposed to how critical scholars evaluate that belief), although courses by Luke Timothy Johnson might provide some such insight. This course does not teach what Christians believe; it teaches what historians think about what Christians believe. Jesus is viewed as the Great Prophet rather than as divine. The course says little about such central Christian topics as the problem of sin and the consequent issues of the Resurrection, atonement, justification, and sanctification. Instead it concentrates on speculations such as who wrote the Gospel according to Luke. Again, this course is valuable only in critiquing an understanding of Christian belief; it will only confuse someone who does not already have a basic understanding of that belief. Dr. Bakke depicts the Fourth Gospel (John) as anti-Semitic. I’m glad that TGC does not treat religious texts of other religions, such as the Koran of Islam or the Tanakh of Judaism, in the same way. Such treatment can impede rather than advance the understanding of a religion to which one does not already subscribe. Dr. Bakke’s presentation is nearly monotonic. I used the video presentation but the audio would have been just as good.
Date published: 2020-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A fascinating exploration of the New Testament I watched this course after reading the Bible in its entirety. David Brakke illuminates much that was murky to me. Rather than reviewing the books in the order in which they're presented in the New Testament, Brakke begins his exploration with the epistles of Paul which scholars believe to be the first books composed. Brakke spends a great deal of time on Paul before he moves on to the gospels and other books. I also watched Bart D. Ehrman's course simply titled "The New Testament." I would recommend watching both courses as Ehrman and Brakke emphasize different things. I especially appreciated Brakke's chronological approach as he was able to place each book of the New Testament in its proper historical context. For example, it is important to know that the Gospel of Mark was composed around the time of the destruction of the second Temple in Jerusalem. All in all, I would highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2020-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course One of the best of The Great Courses that I've viewed. Dr. Brakke's coverage of the subject is well-organized and clearly delivered. He added so much to my understanding of the New Testament. I would watch this course several times (and may yet do so) to solidify my understanding of the course material if I didn't have several other courses waiting to be viewed. Based on this one, I've purchased two more of Dr. Brakke's courses and am looking forward to them.
Date published: 2020-04-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy to listen to. Well worth my money. Have enjoyed it so far. Lots of good knowledge
Date published: 2020-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I thoroughly enjoyed Understanding the New Testament and think that the course actually accomplished its goal of helping me "understand" the scripture, its varied messages and the contrasting eras in which each book was composed.
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding the New Testament Exceptionally well thought out and presented. Nicely supported by beautiful artwork.
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 21st Century explanation This series brings together the historic background and early development of Christianity. It is an excellent presentation for those wishing to better understand the books of the New Testament.
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply put, this is the best course I have ever taken whether it be undergraduate or graduate school. I learned so very much; and, isn't that our purpose here-new knowledge?
Date published: 2020-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent professor! I love this series. Exactly what I needed to improve my understanding of the New Testament.
Date published: 2020-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding the New Testament Very insightful commentary on the historicity of the New Testament and its writers.
Date published: 2020-02-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Holy Land Revealed Starting with disk#1 I am now on disk#6. It is hard to stop watching because each lecture is so interesting and presented in such a manner that the lectures are seamless and presented like a "story." The professor "Jodi" is remarkable and though I have a Masters Degree, I would have to say that she is the "best of the best," I could listen to her all day. The material she presents is absolutely fantastic.
Date published: 2020-02-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Cliff's Notes There is nothing really wrong with the materials (I have not yet watched the video), but the level of instruction is shallow. Not recommended for anyone who already has a working knowledge of the
Date published: 2020-02-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoy the historical perspective The lecture series does not take away from what one believes in, just another way to gain knowledge of the Bible.
Date published: 2020-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Examining the Bible from different perspectives Another great course(s) on the Bible from TGC. I took both Understanding the Old Testament and Understanding the New Testament as a set. TGC has produced many courses on the Bible or parts of it. I have said before it is better to take the same course from two different professors than two course from one professor. Each professor brings their own view of the subject, examines different details than other professors, and examines the views of different scholars on the subject. This set enhances all the previous productions of TGC . It caused me to go back to some other productions of TGC I took previously to compare the comments and opinions. Each course fills in more details and more opinions. This set fits very nicely into TGC library of courses on the Bible. It is very well presented by both professors and provides more insight into the possible ways to interpret the Bible. One of the important aspects of these two courses is they lay out how different books, that were written at different times, address the interpretation of the Bible within the specific time and environment the author was writing. Over the many years that the books of both Old and New Testaments were written the audience changed . Various authors wrote to address the needs, issues, and opinions of specific populations.
Date published: 2020-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Product is very informativeand I have been humbled by the new information, just not sure it will not be toodeep or complex for my study classes/
Date published: 2020-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellant layout I love it and have gotten a greater understanding of the New Testament.
Date published: 2020-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Understanding the Old Testament I ust purchased Understanding the Old testament and Understanding the New testament. The course are well presented. Video and accompanying course material are great.o
Date published: 2020-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from understanding the new testament I just received the DVD's in the mail, and watched the first lesson. really enjoyed the video can't wait to view the rest.
Date published: 2020-01-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Doesn't play on my mac It does not play on my mac but does work on my samsung 10 plus phone good thing I got the DVD to go with the course but then I'm stuck on the tv at home
Date published: 2020-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Explanation of the New Testament's Background Professor Brakke provides a very good explanation of things that are less than obvious when reading the books of the New Testament. Four stars instead of five because I think that the pace was a bit slow.
Date published: 2020-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well-done Intro; Religious Viewpoint This is a well-done introduction to the New Testament - and, for that matter, to Christianity. It covers the work at a basic level, summarizing much of it, and briefly discussing many of the most essential scholarly and historical insights and disagreements. The Course Overview on this web page is quite detailed and accurate, and worth looking at if you are unsure about taking the course. In contrast to "Understanding the Old Testament", appreciating this course requires little to no prior familiarity. In fact, it would make an excellent basis for a church Sunday School class, at about a ninth grade level. Also unlike a number of other Great Courses on religion, this one is clearly offered from within the religious viewpoint. The disagreements that are covered are solely among Christians; almost no outside criticisms are addressed. (For a different perspective, I highly recommend Bart Ehrman's excellent courses.) In fact, many lectures could double as sermons. And they often end, not with academic points, but with observations that could easily be imagined coming from a priest or minister. Examples: "That God will do, Paul says, and so all Israel will be saved." [Lecture 5]. "They too can be followers of Jesus, the suffering Son of Man." [Lecture 10]. And "Some Christians may have given up on the earliest Christians, that the kingdom of God is at hand, and people need to repent and get ready, but not this author. He gives a rousing defense of this traditional message: God is in charge of this world and its history, and at some point he will bring this world to an end, judge all people and give salvation to those who have faith in Him and Jesus." [Lecture 21]. I have one serious criticism. In Lecture 12, on the Gospel of Matthew, our professor makes it clear that Matthew's charge that the Jews killed Jesus is an inexcusable historical fiction which helped lead to millenia of often violent anti-Semitism. However, he then goes on to explain the reasons for Matthew's charge, and sounds (at least to me) very much like he is excusing him. He ends the lecture with "Matthew looks forward to a time when he hopes these separated communities - Jews and Gentiles, those who believe in Jesus and those who do not - will join together in worship of their shared God." (Full disclosure: I am not religious, but I very much respect religious beliefs and appreciate the good that religions and religious people have done in our world.) Professor Brakke is well-organized, and speaks clearly and to-the-point in a pleasant conversational tone. I found, however, that essentially every sentence sounded like every other, expressed in a nearly unvarying rhythm which sometimes made it difficult for me to maintain focus. The video helped with written texts of long quotations, but the audio would be fine as well. The Course Guidebook is quite complete and well written. So - I very much recommend this course as a basic introduction to, or review of, the New Testament. Be aware that it is taught from within a religious perspective.
Date published: 2020-01-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not what I was hoping for This is not a course for skeptics or atheists. This seems to be a course for people who want help interpreting the bible and understanding its content better. The professor seems to be careful not to say anything that a believing Christian would consider blasphemous. This course is not for me, and therefore I did not enjoy it. I wanted to hear not about what is in the bible, but what is behind the bible. How did it get authored and edited over time, by whom, and what were the reasons for taking things out? What about all of the irreconcilable inconsistencies within the new testament, such as the vastly differing accounts of the resurrection? What about the irreconcilable inconsistencies between the bible and external reality, such as the lack of any evidence that Jews were actually slaves in Egypt? That's the stuff I wanted to hear about, and it wasn't there. The professor is trying to be objective here, and unfortunately it makes his presentation boring. If he has opinions about the bible or about bible scholarship, he keeps them to himself.
Date published: 2020-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended Dr. Brakke's approach to the subject allows one to understand the religious significance of the New Testament in the context of the times, when, where and by whom, the books were composed. His historical presentation offered me the clearest light on the development of Christianity in the world of the New Testament, pointing to the future.
Date published: 2019-12-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good title Good review from historical perspective. A few inconsistencies about Paul which are subject to debate.
Date published: 2019-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absorbing introduction Professor David Brakke is a well-known and respected historian of early Christianity who has put together a very stimulating course. It is worth pointing out that, like Bart Ehrman's "New Testament", this course is informed by a historical-critical approach, i.e. Professor Brakke portrays the meaning of the New Testament books as that intended by the original authors. Of course, there is often debate as to what, exactly, an author did sometimes mean, and Professor Brakke attends to some of these debates. Compared to Professor Ehrman's course there is less material on the Jewish and Hellenistic background, although each book is given sufficient context. The big difference between the two courses is that this course goes through the New Testament in a more-or-less chronological order; starting with Pau's undisputed letters, moving through the four Gospels and Acts, and ending with the Pastoral epistles and Revelation. There is one lesson on the historical Jesus, but this aspect of New Testament study is not given great emphasis. Those who have other courses by Professor Brakke will know what to expect in terms of presentation style: calm, precise, and clear. There are few asides, or personal anecdotes, and this contrasts with Professor Ehrman's well-known delivery style. In summary, a terrific addition to the Great Courses' collection of bible lecture series.
Date published: 2019-12-15
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