Story of the Bible

Course No. 6252
Professor Luke Timothy Johnson, Ph.D.
Emory University
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Course No. 6252
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Course Overview

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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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Telling the Story of a Book
    The Bible is a book of stories; but the Bible as a book has a fascinating story of its own. In this lecture, we review the Bible's powerful influence throughout Western history and begin to consider the complex process by which this important text was composed. x
  • 2
    Making TaNaK
    We explore the contents and early formation of the Hebrew Bible (or TaNaK, an acronym derived from three ancient compositions, Torah, Nebiim, and Ketubim), and trace how this collection of ancient compositions arose from a centuries-long process of oral and written tradition. x
  • 3
    Forms of Jewish Scripture
    By the 1st century B.C.E., the Jewish Bible is both a unifying symbol and an emblem of Jewish diversity as communities across the Diaspora adopt different versions of scripture. x
  • 4
    Birth of the Christian Bible
    As the early Christian church takes shape, members of this new sect embrace the Greek translation of the Hebrew text and quickly develop their own sacred compositions. x
  • 5
    Formation of Jewish and Christian Canons
    During the first centuries of the Common Era, the Jewish and Christian faiths face a similar challenge: the need for a standardized version of scripture. For the Jews, this means confirming centuries of tradition; for the Christians, it is a longer and more contentious process. x
  • 6
    Writing and Copying Manuscripts
    Although the word Bible means "the book," it is anachronistic to call it a book before the 4th century C.E. In this lecture, we explore the techniques by which biblical manuscripts were created and copied prior to the advent of print. x
  • 7
    Imperial Sponsorship and the Bible
    When Constantine the Great converts to Christianity in the 4th century, the new faith becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire, an event that lifts the Christian Bible to the status of imperially sanctioned text and forever changes the relationship between Christians and Jews. x
  • 8
    Texts and Translations—The Ancient East
    The earliest translations of the Christian Bible provide a tantalizing glimpse into cultures throughout the ancient world, including the Syriac and Coptic cultures, and in many cases provides the first instances of written texts in these ancient languages. x
  • 9
    Old Latin and the Vulgate
    We examine the rise of Latin translation of the Bible, culminating in the Vulgate of St. Jerome in the 4th century, and learn how these translations underscored the growing divide between the Eastern and Western churches. x
  • 10
    Other Ancient Versions
    While many early worshipers read the Christian Bible in Greek and Latin, other translations spread to every corner of the empire, including Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia, and Arabia. We'll learn how the project of translating the Bible often led to the creation of a written alphabet for these cultures. x
  • 11
    Monasteries and Manuscripts
    Throughout the Middle Ages, monasteries provide a stronghold for the production and preservation of biblical manuscripts. Monks' lives are deeply immersed in scripture, whether serving as manuscript copyists, performing the daily recitation of chants, or practicing the fine art of manuscript illumination. x
  • 12
    Interpretation within Judaism
    Jews throughout the Diaspora continue to pursue their faith and debate the meaning of their sacred texts in strong communities of worship. This conversation appears in the development of the Talmud, a constantly evolving interpretation of how God's law should be observed, and in the work of great Jewish Bible scholars. x
  • 13
    Interpretation in Medieval Christianity
    During the medieval period, Christianity is shaped largely by the Bible and its interpretations. "Reading the Bible" is a many-faceted experience; scripture is heard during Mass, chanted by monks, experienced in daily life through the sacraments and liturgical seasons, and (for a very few) read and interpreted directly. x
  • 14
    The Renaissance, Printing, and the Bible
    With the invention of new printing technology, the Bible is more accessible to private readers. This innovation, coupled with a rebirth of interest in classical learning, leads scholars to challenge the dominance of the Latin Vulgate and develop new translations. x
  • 15
    The Protestant Reformation and the Bible
    In breaking with the Catholic faith, Protestant reformer Martin Luther introduces a new emphasis on private reading and interpretation and a sole reliance on scripture as a guide for right living. x
  • 16
    Translating the Bible into Modern Languages
    In the wake of the Reformation, countries across Europe forge new national and religious identities. The Bible is one of the chief battlegrounds for this struggle, as traditional texts are newly translated into vernacular languages and new canons of scripture are championed. x
  • 17
    The First Efforts at Englishing the Bible
    From the 14th century, translating the Bible into English appears as a way to challenge the Catholic Church and make scripture available to all. Early translators are persecuted as heretics, but "Englishing the Bible" also becomes a means for exerting political control. x
  • 18
    The King James Version
    In an attempt to standardize scripture—and, by extension, the religious and civic order in England—King James I marshals a team of scholars to produce an authoritative English text. The impact of the King James Bible is still felt today in English language and literature as well as in the church. x
  • 19
    The Romance of Manuscripts
    With the advent of printing, manuscripts fall into disuse until scholars begin to appreciate their historical and literary value. The result is an explosion of interest in rescuing these ancient manuscripts from oblivion. x
  • 20
    Searching for the Critical Text
    This lecture reviews the remarkable efforts made to establish a "scholar's Bible," a critical edition synthesizing thousands of ancient manuscripts to provide a guide for readers. x
  • 21
    The Historical-Critical Approach
    Since the rise of the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, we have seen an expansion of interest in the Bible as a historical document that provides a way to reconstruct the past. x
  • 22
    The Bible in Contemporary Judaism
    In response to challenges of the modern world, Judaism reinterprets Jewish identity through the Reform movement, Orthodoxy, Conservative Judaism, and Zionism. Cataclysmic events such as the Holocaust forever alter how modern Jews read ancient scripture. x
  • 23
    Contemporary Christians and Their Bibles
    While the Bible remains central to worship and theology in contemporary Christianity, it is also an arena for lively disputes. Modern Christians continue to debate the place of scripture in daily and civic life and strive for more accurate and appropriate translations of biblical texts. x
  • 24
    The Bible's Story Continues
    The Bible has maintained its place for centuries as one of the most widely read compositions and continues to hold a special fascination for people all over the world. New technologies extend the Bible's influence even further, and translations of biblical stories into other media never fail to arouse interest and controversy. x

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Your professor

Luke Timothy Johnson

About Your Professor

Luke Timothy Johnson, Ph.D.
Emory University
Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, Georgia. Professor Johnson earned a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Yale University, as well as an M.A. in Religious Studies from Indiana University, an M.Div. in Theology from Saint Meinrad School of Theology, and a B.A. in Philosophy from Notre Dame Seminary in...
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Story of the Bible is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 63.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Luke Timothy Johnson is a leading NT Scholafr. The lectures are clear, concise, revealing. Professor Johnson is a gifted lecturer.
Date published: 2018-09-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from From Jesus to Constantine: Early Christianity. Very educated speaker however be prepared. A self proclaimed Agnostic. Someone who does not know if God exists. Verified via You Tube. I should have checked before spending my money. How can he tell me about God, Jesus if he doesn't know if a God exists?
Date published: 2018-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth it! I found the course both interesting and informative. It covered all aspects I expected plus a lot more.
Date published: 2018-09-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great content. Prof tried to be objective in his viewpoint even as an academic.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Good Stuff but on Bad Media When I tried to play disc 1 on my DVD player it made a rumbling sound and about 1 minute into the first lecture the picture kept breaking up and pausing. I am returning the course for a refund. All other Great Courses I have bought were of good quality Somehow this one must have slipped thru Quality Assurance.
Date published: 2017-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Course from LTJ I have taken numerous courses by Luke Timothy Johnson and find him and the content brilliant. I listen to them multiple times and find my Biblical knowledge, especially from this course, to dramatically improve. Although I teach at a Christian College and seminary, I find myself more prepared with content even our pastoral and Bible faculty lac.
Date published: 2017-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Story of the Bible As usual Luke Timothy Johnson is the most knowledgeable and erudite of Professors. Always does a good job of presentation and is enthusiastic about it. Great course.
Date published: 2016-11-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The problem with the Great Courses DVDs and CDs is that the is no publication date listed in the course description. With some courses that really doesn's make a difference, but with other courses it is important because new info is being published frequently that introduces new data about the subject, e.,g., astronomy. If a course has been published 10 years ago, it should be noted so the purchased is aware that it may not be up to date.
Date published: 2016-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Illuminating Professor Johnson is a go-to lecturer in my book, and this course met his high standards. His presentations are thorough, enthusiastic, and engaging. As a broad overview, I found the course quite enjoyable.
Date published: 2015-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from story of the bible I found this course most enlightening It brought to life how the bible came to be written and why it became a canon for the Christian faith. I enjoyed every moment of the course and would recomend it to anyone who has a genuine interest in the study of the Bible.
Date published: 2015-05-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth your time The course is well prepared, well presented, and the Dr. Johnson is very knowledgeable. For a layman like me, it is a great way to get a perspective on the origin of scripture.
Date published: 2015-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Every Christian Needs to Know Few Christians know the history of the Bible. Of course some may have memorized much of its content, but often they know little of how our excellent copies of the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament writings have been preserved and translated into modern English.. Professor Johnson brings knowledge to enlighten our understanding and challenge common assumptions. Dr Johnson is an outstanding author and brilliant lecturer. The Story of the Bible truly is a Great Course. Thank you, Teaching Company, for making his presentations to us.
Date published: 2015-02-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Muddling up a sacred Thome This guy loves to hear himself talk! I have a M.A. Degree in Theology, and he lost me by being so "precise". I couldn't even finish listening to the course. He used words that I never ever heard in eight years of college. Doesn't know who his audience is. Far, far erudite use of language! Definitely a legend in his own mind.
Date published: 2015-02-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Verbose, vague and 'sunday-school' course. I expected it to be an academic lecture on history of bible. It is just vague, with some general information, a lot of words, and a lot of praise of bible. No critical or academic discussion about either the history of development or content of various books of bible. Instead I got only 'non-controversial' and 'apologetic' discussion. The real information could have been covered in less than 30 minutes.
Date published: 2014-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb I greatly enjoyed Prof. Johnson's course on the history of Christianity, so I bought this course on the Story of the Bible as soon as it was released. I found it excellent. This course is the story of the Bible as literature, starting with the development and nature of the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) and continuing with the New Testament. Prof. Johnson does not go into great theological or doctrinal discussions in this course other than as needed to illuminate some of the forks taken in the road to putting various writings into the Bible. The course is full of fascinating details on topics such as how scribes copied books and the sources of common errors; the translations of Old and New Testament into various languages; and the tools scholars try to use to get as close as possible to the earliest and most accurate texts. All in all this is truly great course. I find this course to be excellent both standalone for students of history, literature or religion, and as a complement to Johnson's History of Christianity and to Prof. Bart Ehrman's course on the New Testament, which covers in fascinating detail the content of the books that made -- and missed -- the Catholic cannon, some of which are in various Orthodox cannons.
Date published: 2014-05-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Puts the "great" in the Great Courses Dr. Johnson is obviously well educated in the subject and presents not only a great chronology of the bible's development thru history, but provides an impartial review and interpretation according to the different western religions. His vocabulary did make me reach for a dictionary a bit too often, but overall a course I would highly recommend for anyone interested in the subject.
Date published: 2014-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome class! Prof. Johnson kept me enthralled during his lectures. While some of his materials was more of a refresher for me, he did teach me some things that I did not know about the Scriptures. I would recommend this course for both those who possess a good deal of knowledge about the Bible as well as those wishing to learn much more.
Date published: 2013-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible! Absolutely Incredible! This was my first course and I am absolutely Hooked! The more I listened, and learned, the more I fell in love with the teaching style of Dr. Johnson. Here is a man I hope to meet someday. I can't wait to order my next course. Thank You!
Date published: 2013-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Story of the Bible This is a fascinating course that I recommend to everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike. In this course, Dr. Johnson, a Theologist and brilliant scholar, takes us on a three-millenia journey from Jerusalem to the far reaches of the Western World through the writing of the Bible. The story of the Bible is vast and complex but, in 24-lectures, Dr. Johnson, presents us with the essence of this book in riveting lectures, many of which I wished not would end. I'm sure you'll enjoy this intriguing perspective on the Bible.
Date published: 2012-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Expansion on couple of points As a Muslim, I am taking this course to understand formation of bible and very happy to learn so much history that I was not aware of. However couple of points that I would like to make to make sure the facts are conveyed. Professor mentioned that in contrast to bible , Quran is not considered Quran unless it is in Arabic. It is true to a point , A translation of Quran is also considered Quran as long as original Arabic verses are included with the translation, thus avoiding any manipulation of Quran by Kings, Scholars or general public. Secondly though Quran was revealed in Arabic, it was not because Arabs were superior to other nations but that is the language prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and the people of the land spoke. Thirdly the word Allah as spoken in the west to distinguish the God of bibles vs Quran, fortunately is not used in the muslim world. In Isalm God of Jews, Christians and Muslims is one and only one God. The reason Muslims prefer to use the word "Allah" is due to the facts that in contrast to the word God (plural gods) in English , word Allah does not have any plural counterpart to it thus reflecting the true monotheism essence in the name. Fourthly, beyond original Arabic Language and translations, Quran also is accompanied by "Tafseer", an explanation by a religious scholar in any language, what a particular verse means, background and intended objective of the verse. And this also clarifies if the translations is manipulated and does not reflect true meaning of the original verse.
Date published: 2012-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! Literally, this course deals with how the Bible came to be or, to be more precise, how the various versions of the Bible were developed over the centuries. Indeed, though some Christians may choose to forget it, the Bible, unlike the Koran, was not revealed over a few years but was transcribed, translated and in fact edited over time. Professor Johnson admits his Catholic faith from the start but succeeds in objectively and respectfully presenting this evolution. Though restrained and humble, he demonstrates an exceptionally profound and subtle mind. This course is recommended to all without any restriction.
Date published: 2012-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb Scholarly Story Professor Johnson is a delight to listen to and his erudition is highly impressive. My objective from this course was to learn about how the Bible was finalised into the form we know today. This course delivers a superb overview of the process and covers both the creation of the canon in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. It is an exhilirating and sometimes bewilderingly complex process. The Professor has clearlycontributed a lot of thought into this course and he takes us on an intellectual journey into the world of manuscript writing, theological debates and arguments and the complexities of translation (Hebrew, Greek and Latin renderings of the bible all played critical roles in the creation of the version we have today). A highly recommended course!
Date published: 2012-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Resist temptation Oh, how I had to resist the temptation to put this course in the trash heap. Such is the annoying presentation style of Johnson. Johnson is equal parts Emo Phillips, (sing songy), Tele-Prompter Obama (unable to string together more than 5-6 syllables at a time), and John Kerry (affectation). I fought through 6 lectures before Johnson became bearable. Anyone who can stick with it will be rewarded with an interesting course. Liberal for sure, but good nonetheless.
Date published: 2012-10-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, could have been excellent if... Quote from the lecturer: "The bible is not a book that stands still." Hmmm! This is a valuable & informative course, important in any study of how the Old and New Testaments came into being, i.e. consolidated into one "book" from among the potential selection of very many different and varied writings. Dr Timothy Luke Johnson clearly rejoices in his voice, often becomes quite verbose. Be aware, too, that the professor often "mis-speaks", but immediately corrects himself. He also has a habit of pronouncing some words in unusual ways which I found distracting, e.g. extant, decade, compilations, Opus Dei. In fact the course is slightly bumpy overall in flow and presentation, with the professor at times seeming to have to re-focus in mid stream. I think he could have simplified things substantially and excluded many rather extraneous (though interesting) considerations. I felt the course got bogged down over lectures 8, 9 and 10 with far too much information and details on foreign translations. For us in the English-speaking world, translations into Albanian, Slavonic and Turkish are of no pertinence or pressing interest. Further bogging down occurred in some later lectures, I felt. With better planning and presentation, this good course could have risen to be a truly excellent course. For its valuable content, this course is certainly recommended. Additionally I highly recommend the outstanding Dr Bart Ehrman's Great Courses 12-lecture series "History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon".
Date published: 2012-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Story About The Bible This is an excellent course. Please remember that it is about the book -- not about the stories in the book. Prof. Johnson does a nice job describing where the Bible came from and what it has been through over the past 2000 years. He is organized and clear in his presentation. He provides a nice bibliography. What I enjoyed most about the course were his descriptions about how the various versions of the Bible were produced -- especially how the Jewish and Christian canons were selected. I also am glad that I am more familiar with the various versions of the Bible that are available today. Thank you for this Great Course
Date published: 2012-04-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Story OF the Book Not IN the Book If you are looking for more substance to add to your knowledge of the Christian or Jewish faiths, you won't find a great deal of it here, because as the course title states, this is the story OF the Bible, not more on the stories IN the bible. While it is tru you can't help but pick up more about the religions, that is not the purpose of the course. But that's fine. There is a place to tell the story of how the Bible came about, and this is it. But as Professor Johnson points out very early in the course, the word Bible covers an awfully lot of territory. That makes the first several lectures of the course a little confusing, sometimes even for the Professor as he trys to sort out the many sources, contributors, critics, and advesaries of the early attempts to put the book together. Given that the story starts before the advent of decent writing materials like the printing press and paper, keeping track of what was supposedly in, and out, of the "Biblica" was some kind of nightmare. And whose job was it anyway? When they couldn't even decide who should be running the country or the Church, it was tough to decide on who was supposed to be keeping up with the oxcart full of scroolls and rocks and papyrus being used to tell a coherent story, and that is just for one religion. What about all of the other "groups" who were saying they had been chosen to tell God's story. While it is true I rated the Professor's performance and the course with four stars overall, that is because I cannot see where anyone, even Professor Johnson could make much of a coherent story out of the literally hundreds of variables he was faced with at the onset of the story. The four stars then, represent what I consider a valient try on Professor Johnson's part, but it still resulted in a lot of stammering and backtracking on his part to keep the storyline moving. Hardly the mark of a five star presentation. He had a tough task, and he gave it a noble effort, but ended up with a less than smooth presentation. After saying all that, and sounding negative as I do, I really did enjoy the course, and I got a lot out of it. I therefore would definitely recommend the course to anyone. It is certainly worth the effort to listen carefully, back up and try again if necessary, to hear what Professor Johnson has to tell you. The Teaching Company promises quality courses that give you your money's worth. That's exactly what they did in this course.
Date published: 2011-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Now I know what NRSV, etc. mean The first part of this course was, for lack of a better word, rather “technical. For example, one lecture dealt with copying manuscripts. It’s an important topic, but not a big attention grabber for me. The course ended with lectures on what’s going on with the Bible today. I found the latter part of the course far more engrossing. I did, however, learn a lot. I now understand why there are so many versions of the Bible and where they came from. Just being able to interpret all the letters (NRSV, etc.) makes this course worthwhile. The professor (a former priest) clearly was an expert on the topic. The lectures were clear and flowed well from one to another. My sole minor complaint was that the professor pronounced some words in a strange way. This didn’t hinder understanding, but it was kind of distracting. On my two key criteria this course rates an OK. Was it thought provoking? Somewhat, I would say. Did it make me want to read or learn more? Not so much, especially in comparison to my interest in knowing about the stories IN the Bible. I know a lot more about the story of the Bible now than I did before, but I don’t feel that I need to expand this knowledge. If what you want to know is how, where and why the Bible came about and how it has evolved, this course will deliver.
Date published: 2011-11-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good information Downloaded version. If this is your first course about the Bible, I am sure you will find it very interesting and informative. Undoubtedly this is the reason for so many positive reviews of this course. Having listened to many Bible-related courses from the Teaching Company, I have to admit that I did not learn much from this one. But if you have not studied this subject before, you will learn a lot about the formation of the Bible, for example why certain works were selected and others were not. When and how these works were created. How they have been copied and preserved through the centuries and millennia. You will also learn about the history of the Jewish and Christian religions. The history of the development of Jewish Bible and the Christian Bible. The professor said that he was a Catholic, but he was remarkably evenhanded when it came to discussing Jewish issues, as well as the issues concerning Protestant religion. He sounds very knowledgeable. He clearly knows Hebrew, Greek, Latin and perhaps German. And of course he speaks English. He knows a lot about the history of the Bible canonization, i.e. the formation of the actual book that we call the Bible today. He seems to really like the subject he is discussing. The only problem is that he is not a very dynamic speaker. He has a pleasant voice, his lectures are well organized, but he speaks as if he is reading his notes. At times it sounds monotonous and I had to really strain myself to keep paying attention. He is certainly not in the same league as professors Greenberg or Fears, who have dynamic personalities, who entertain you while educating you. With this in mind, the course offers good information especially if this is your first exposure to the Bible-related material. If you like this course, I would recommend other courses by the Teaching Company, such as the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Book of Genesis, and Beginning of Judaism.
Date published: 2011-05-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from admirable, scholarly introduction First off, I have a confession: I’m not religious at all. I lean more towards agnosticism. Nevertheless, I find it incredibly important to have some degree of background knowledge about the Bible. This my first TGC course in the Religion category, and I have to say it was quite impressive, thorough, and scholarly. I’m now working my way through a second listening, which is even better than my first go around. The course is very well organized, beginning with its early origins. It then moves on to various versions and translations. After that, we get a history lesson on Western culture’s impact; finally, the last few lectures tackle modern issues. Over all, it’s well done and very thought provoking. You can take from it what you like. It may not change your preconceived attitudes on whether the Bible is inspired by the divine word of God or really just a work of mythological invention, but it will give you an accessible and in-depth story of the Bible over the years, how it’s been adapted, adopted, reworked, reinterpreted, and rewritten through the centuries by an untold number of influences. I’m not very interested in the stories that make up the Bible, and you don’t get very much of that. It’s not central to the course. In short, I’m really glad I got this course. It makes me want to start reading the Bible and compare versions for myself.
Date published: 2011-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful and Enjoyable Excellent tour for becoming acquainted with history of the Bible which wet my appetite to gain the perspectives of other scholars. TL Johnson seeks to be fair in his presentation, but I found myself as a novice wanting a second opinion on various issues which he illuminates. He shares how archeology has caused the conventional wisdom of scholars to be overturned so I wonder what representations he makes which may be proven to be fallacies in the future. I highly recommend this course to beginners like me.
Date published: 2011-04-04
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