Symposium website “The Social Worlds of Early Christians: A Symposium in Honor of L. Michael White” includes recorded presentations and live Zoom panel discussions (October 24, 2020, at 10:00am, 1:00pm, and 3:00pm CST). Registration is free, but required (scroll down to the bottom of the page to sign up).
On May 19, 2020, Professors John Kloppenborg and Chris Keith had a Zoom discussion on Kloppenborg’s recent book, Christ’s Associations (Yale UP, Nov 2019).
The discussion is the sixth in the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible’s 2020 Online Discussion Series.
On February 25, 2015, Professor Eric Cline (The George Washington University) delivered a lecture at The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, on the collapse of civilization at the end of the Late Bronze Age. The lecture was on the same subject as his recent book, 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed (2014).
For more than three hundred years during the Late Bronze Age, from about 1500 BC to 1200 BC, the Mediterranean region played host to a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system such as has only rarely been seen before the current day. It may have been this very internationalism that contributed to the apocalyptic disaster that ended the Bronze Age. When the end came, as it did after centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions came to a dramatic halt in a vast area stretching from Greece and Italy in the west to Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia in the east. Large empires and small kingdoms, that had taken centuries to evolve, collapsed rapidly. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages. It was not until centuries later that a new cultural renaissance emerged in Greece and the other affected areas, setting the stage for the evolution of Western society as we know it today. Blame for the end of the Late Bronze Age is usually laid squarely at the feet of the so-called Sea Peoples, known to us from the records of the Egyptian pharaohs Merneptah and Ramses III. However, as was the case with the fall of the Roman Empire, the end of the Bronze Age empires in this region was not the result of a single invasion, but of multiple causes. The Sea Peoples may well have been responsible for some of the destruction that occurred at the end of the Late Bronze Age, but it is much more likely that a concatenation of events, both human and natural — including earthquake storms, droughts, rebellions, and systems collapse — coalesced to create a “perfect storm” that brought the age to an end.
– Lecture by Eric Cline on “1177 BC: The Year Civilization Collapsed“
Professor Cline also delivered a similar lecture to the National Capital Area Skeptics, on October 8, 2016, in Bethesda, Maryland:
Dr Philip Harland has made available a revised, online edition of his book Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations: Claiming a Place in Ancient Mediterranean Society (September 2013) with clickable links to inscriptions that are collected together on the book’s sister-site Associations in the Greco-Roman World: A Companion to the Sourcebook.
A groundbreaking study. Harland’s focus on associations in Roman antiquity as a way better to understand civic social life and the social sensibilities of those involved in such associations sets the stage for a reconsideration of the place of ancient Christianities and Judaisms in the Roman order. What emerges is a realistic picture of the ancient Christian associations of Asia Minor that produced such texts as 1 Peter, the Apocalypse of John, and the Pastoral Epistles. This new picture emphasized the concrete, day-to-day ways in which ancient Christians did claim a place for themselves within the empire, and soundly dismisses conceptualizations of Christianity as an isolated sect. This is an indispensable step toward re-imagining ancient civic life, ancient religion, and the origins of Christianity as well.
– William Arnal, University of Regina, Saskatchewan (on the first edition)
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza discusses the use of the language of Empire in Christian scriptures, in a 2007 Burke Lecture, against the backdrop of modern globalization and U.S. empire.
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza of the Harvard Divinity School has done pioneering work in biblical interpretation and feminist theology. She explores how the power of empire has historically shaped Christian Scriptures but also how it continues to shape our self-understanding and public discourse in the present.
Professor Shaye Cohen, of Harvard University, delivers an introduction to both early Judaism and early Christianity, through the lens of their respective interpretations of the Bible.
“The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity” is available on iTunes. The course includes a syllabus and notes for each lecture, and exam papers. There are 26 lectures in total.
In 70CE the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Second Temple Judaism, whose worship consisted of animal sacrifice permitted by biblical command only at the Temple, would have to reinvent itself as Rabbinic Judaism. Contemporaneously, the authors of the New Testament Gospels were writing about the Jewish apocalyptic prophet whom they believed was the awaited messiah. For both the rabbis and the gospel writers, for both ancient Jews and ancient Christians, the central authoritative text was the Torah and the other books we now call the Hebrew Scriptures. This course surveys how the interpretation (and reinterpretation) of these books spawned two rival cultural systems, Judaism and Christianity. The issues addressed are: 1) What are the truth claims of Judaism and Christianity? 2) In the first centuries of our era, how did Jewish biblical interpretation differ from Christian? 3) What differences resulted in “the parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity? 4) How does each culture deal with the biblical passages concerning: circumcision, the food laws, the Sabbath, Passover, the manifestations of the deity (e.g., Logos), the messiah, atonement/redemption, and the concept of Israel as the chosen of God?
1. Introduction to the Course
2. What is the Bible?
3. What is Judaism?
4. What is Christianity?
5. Jewish Bible Interpretation in Antiquity
6. Christian Bible Interpretation in Antiquity
7. The Parting of the Ways
8. Justine Martyr and Early Christianity
9. Circumcision: The Jewish Understanding
10. Circumcision: The Christian Understanding
11. The Food Laws: The Jewish View
12. The Food Laws: The Christian View
13. The Sabbath
14. From Shabbat to Sunday
16. The Seder
17. From Psah to Pascha
18. Melito of Sardis and the Christian Passover
19. The One God, Torah, and Logos
20. The One God who is Two
21. Messiah: The Restoration of the Davidic King
22. Christ as King and Messiah
23. Atonement through Sacrifice and its Surrogates
24. Atonement through the Sacrifice of Christ
25. Israel, the People of God
26. Who is the True Israel?
Philip Harland has an ongoing series of podcasts on a wide range of topics relating to religions of the ancient Mediterranean which are available here. These include:
Series 1: Paul and His Communities
Podcast 1.1 Paul in his own words
Podcast 1.2 The situation at Thessalonica
Podcast 1.3 Paul’s response to Jesus-followers at Thessalonica
Podcast 1.4: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 1
Podcast 1.5: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 2
Podcast 1.6: Paul and the followers of Jesus at Corinth, part 3
Podcast 1.7: Paul and the situation in Galatia
Podcast 1.8: Paul’s response to the Galatians
Podcast 1.9: Paul and the situation at Rome
Podcast 1.10: Paul’s response to the Romans
Podcast 1.11: Legacies of Paul – Women’s leadership, part 1
Podcast 1.12: Legacies of Paul – Women’s leadership, part 2
Series 2: Early Christian Portraits of Jesus
Podcast 2.1: Introduction to the Gospels as Portraits of Jesus
Podcast 2.2: Mark’s portrait of Jesus – Suffering Son, part 1
Podcast 2.3: Mark’s portrait of Jesus – Suffering Son, part 2
Podcast 2.4: Matthew’s portrait of Jesus – New Moses, part 1
Podcast 2.5: Matthew’s portrait of Jesus – New Moses, part 2
Podcast 2.6: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus – Prophet Elijah, part 1
Podcast 2.7: Luke’s Portrait of Jesus – Prophet Elijah, part 2
Podcast 2.8: John’s Portrait of Jesus – Son and Word, part 1
Podcast 2.9: John’s Portrait of Jesus – Son and Word, part 2
Podcast 2.10: Hebrews’ Portrait of Jesus – Highpriest Melchizedek, part 1
Podcast 2.11: Hebrews’ Portrait of Jesus – Highpriest Melchizedek, part 2
Series 3: Diversity in Early Christianity: “Heresies” and Struggles
Podcast 3.1: Introduction to Diversity – A Schism in John’s Community, part 1
Podcast 3.2: A Schism in John’s Community, part 2
Podcast 3.3: Docetic and Judaizing Opponents of Ignatius
Podcast 3.4: Docetic and Judaizing Opponents of Ignatius, part 2
Podcast 3.5: Diversity in Asia Minor – A Regional Case Study
Podcast 3.6: Sources for the Study of Diversity – Gnostic, Apocryphal, Patristic
Podcast 3.7: Jewish Followers of Jesus, part 1 – Ebionites
Podcast 3.8: Jewish Followers of Jesus, part 2 – Pseudo-Clement
Podcast 3.9: Marcionites and the Unknown God
Podcast 3.10 Introducing Gnostic Worldviews
Podcast 3.11: Secret Book of John, part 1 – The Spiritual Realm
Podcast 3.12: Secret Book of John, part 2 – Salvation from the Material Realm
Podcast 3.13: The Wisdom of Jesus Christ and Middle Platonism
Podcast 3.14: The Gospel of Philip, part 1 – Ideas of Salvation
Podcast 3.15: The Gospel of Philip, part 2 – Ritual Enactments of Salvation
Podcast 3.16: The Gospel of Mary – Secret Knowledge from the Ultimate Disciple
Series 4: Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire: Asia Minor
Podcast 4.1: Introduction to Honouring the Gods
Podcast 4.2: A City and Its Patron Deity – Artemis of Ephesus
Podcast 4.3: Salvation from the Gods – Asklepios at Pergamum
Podcast 4.4: Messages from the Gods – Apollo at Claros and Didyma
Podcast 4.5: Justice from the Gods in Lydia
Podcast 4.6: Honouring the Emperors as Gods
Series 5: The Historical Jesus in Context
Podcast 5.1: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 1
Podcast 5.2: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 2
Podcast 5.3: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 3
Podcast 5.4: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 1 – Crossan
Podcast 5.5: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 2 – Sanders
Podcast 5.6: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 1 – To the Second Temple
Podcast 5.7: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 2 – To the Time of Jesus
Podcast 5.8: Jesus, the Galilean and Judean
Podcast 5.9: Jesus in the Context of Educated Groups and Leaders
Podcast 5.10: Jesus and his Mentor, John the Baptizer
Podcast 5.11: Jesus as Teacher, part 1 – Method and Content
Podcast 5.12: Jesus as Teacher, part 2 – Present or Future Kingdom?
Podcast 5.13: Jesus as Healer and Exorcist
Podcast 5.14: Jesus as Prophet
Podcast 5.15: Jesus as Messianic King?
Series 6: Associations in the Greco-Roman World
Podcast 6.1: Introduction to Associations in the Greco-Roman World
Podcast 6.2: Social, Religious, and Burial Activities of Associations
Podcast 6.3: Judean and Christian Groups as Associations
Podcast 6.4: Associations and Greco-Roman Society (The City)
Podcast 6.5: Associations and the Roman Empire
Podcast 6.6: Approaches to Studying Ethnic Associations and Identities
Podcast 6.7: Phoenician Immigrant Associations, part 1
Podcast 6.8: Phoenician Immigrant Associations, part 2
Podcast 6.9: Judean Immigrant Associations, part 1
Podcast 6.10: Judean Immigrant Associations, part 2
Podcast 6.11 Jesus Groups as Associations and Cultural Minorities, part 1
Podcast 6.12: Jesus Groups as Associations and Cultural Minorities, part 2
Podcast 6.13: Cultural Minority Associations and Ethnic Stereotypes, part 1
Podcast 6.14: Cultural Minority Associations and Ethnic Stereotypes, part 2
Series 7: Visions of the End: Origins of Judean Apocalypticism
Podcast 7.1: Visions of the End – What is Apocalypticism?
Podcast 7.2: Origins part 1 – Ancient Near Eastern Combat Myths
Podcast 7.3: Origins part 2 – Zoroastrian apocalypticism
Podcast 7.4: Origins part 3a – Israelite Prophets 1
Podcast 7.5: Origins part 3b – Israelite Prophets 2
Podcast 7.6: 1 Enoch – An Introduction to the Earliest Apocalypse
Podcast 7.7: 1 Enoch – Fallen Angels in Early Apocalypticism
Podcast 7.8: Introduction to Daniel’s Historical Apocalypse
Podcast 7.9: Daniel’s Visions as Veiled History
Series 8: A Cultural History of Satan – Personified Evil in Early Judaism and in Christianity
Podcast 8.1: A Cultural History of Satan – Predecessors of Satan from Mesopotamia
Podcast 8.2: Predecessors of Satan from Canaan and Israel
Podcast 8.3: Predecessors of Satan from Persia
Podcast 8.4: Other Predecessors of Satan from the Hebrew Bible
Podcast 8.5: Fallen Angels in 1 Enoch (ca. 225 BCE)
Podcast 8.6: Mastema in Jubilees and Beliar in the Dead Sea Scrolls (ca. 100 BCE)
Podcast 8.7: The Devil and Beelzebub in Early Biographies of Jesus (70-100 CE)
Podcast 8.8: Internal Functions of the Rhetoric of Satan in Paul and John (ca. 50-110 CE)
Podcast 8.9: A Satanic Empire in John’s Apocalypse (ca. 80-100 CE)
Podcast 8.10: Jealous Satan, the Image of God, and the Serpent in the Life of Adam and Eve
Podcast 8.11: The Jealous Creator and the Serpent of Wisdom in Gnosticism (2nd century CE)
Podcast 8.12: Satan’s Demons and the Greco-Roman Gods in the Church Fathers (2nd-3rd centuries CE)
The video of this UNI lecture is available on YouTube and looks at ways of reconstructing the historical Jesus, including issues of social context, imperialism, and responses to imperialism.
In Our Time is a BBC Radio 4 programme on the history of ideas and is presented by Melvyn Bragg. Its range of episodes are classified under the headings ‘Religion’, ‘History’, ‘Culture’, ‘Philosophy’, and ‘Science’. The format consists of Bragg asking questions to, and leading a discussion with, a panel of academics. There are over 600 episodes – either for listening online and/or download – and the full archive is available here. There are numerous episodes covering topics in biblical studies and relevant areas:
Prophecy (13 June, 2013)
Gnosticism (2 May, 2013)
King Solomon (7 June, 2012)
Judas Maccabeus (24 November, 2011)
The Dawn of the Iron Age (24 March, 2011)
The City [Part 1] (25 March 2010)
The Augustan Age (11 June 2009)
St Paul (28 May, 2009)
Miracles (25 September, 2008)
The Greek Myths (13 March, 2008)
Hell (21 December, 2006)
Heaven (22 December, 2005)
Archaeology and Imperialism (14 April 2005)
Angels (24 March, 2005)
Zoroastrianism (11 November, 2004)
Babylon (3 June 2004)
The Fall (8 April, 2004)
The Alphabet (18 December, 2003)
The Devil (11 December, 2003)
The Apocalypse (17 July, 2003)
The Lindisfarne Gospels (20 February, 2003)
The Soul (6 June 2002)
In addition to the episodes listed above, there are episodes on a range of topics and individuals which will be directly relevant to certain areas of biblical studies research (e.g. Plato, Pliny, Roman satire, Wyclif, Erasmus, Milton, historiography, cultural memory).