The Story of the Storytellers

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Jesus’s Jewish Lineage
Learn how the expansion of the Hasmonean Kingdom provides a sharp context for understanding the birth narratives of Jesus from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. The authors of these Gospels went to great lengths to establish Jesus's descent from David. The question is: Why?
Jesus as Messiah in Mark
[Mark 1-10] Begin your look the New Testament with the first of several lectures on the four gospels--the narratives of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. In Mark (which was likely the first to be written), you'll be reintroduced to the powerful story that continues to captivate people around…
Jesus’s Teachings and Sayings in Context
Close out this insightful course with a pointed consideration of how selected passages from the Gospels can be better understood within their Jewish context. The three passages you explore involve the concept of Hell, Jesus's cleansing of the Temple, and John's account of Jesus's healing of a blind man.
Flavius Josephus: Witness to 1st Century A.D .
One cannot explore Jesus and his Jewish influences without understanding the life and works of Flavius Josephus, the ancient Jewish author who was a witness to the period during and after the life of Jesus. Here, learn how his fascinating historical writings complement what the Gospel authors relate.
Was Jesus a Pharisee?
In this lecture, probe the rise of the Sadducees and Pharisees during the late Second Temple Period. You'll learn how the Pharisaic approach became dominant in Judaism, and you'll spend time investigating what the Gospels say about whether or not Jesus identified as a Pharisee.
Jesus’s Prophecy: Jerusalem’s Destruction
The First Jewish Revolt against Rome culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple. Explore how this cataclysmic event had profound aftershocks for subsequent Jewish history--as well as early traditions surrounding Jesus (for example, the "Parable of the Wicked Tenants" in the Gospel of Matthew).
The First Christians
HOUR FOUR chronicles how the Christian movement - as it became separate from Judaism-would face new challenges--both internal and external. In the period between 100 and 300 C.E., the Christian movement grew throughout the Roman empire. At times there were heated debates about beliefs, worship, and even about Jesus himself.…
A Portrait of Jesus' World
HOUR TWO explores the period after the crucifixion of Jesus and traces the beginnings of the Jesus Movement, in those early years before it was called Christianity: The Jesus Movement began as a sect within Judaism. Along the way, the early Christians branched out and spread their message to non-Jews…
Reading Biblical Literature: Genesis to Revelation
Rightly recognized as one of the world's most important spiritual texts, the Bible has shaped thousands of years of faith, art, and human history. Yet for all its importance to believers and nonbelievers alike, we rarely engage with the Bible as a collection of unique narratives that were only later…
The Burials of Jesus and James
Place the Gospel accounts of the death and burial of Jesus within an archaeological context. The highlight of this episode is the discussion of two recent: and highly controversial: discoveries: the Talpiyot Tomb (the supposed tomb of Jesus and his family) and the James Ossuary (connected to Jesus's brother).
Sites of the Trial and Final Hours of Jesus
Explore the Antonia Fortress, the Church of the Sisters of Zion, three successive lines of fortification walls, the ruins of a burnt Jewish villa, and other archaeological finds in Jerusalem intricately linked with both the final days of Jesus's life and the city's destruction in 70 C.E. by the Romans.
Pharisees and Sadducees
By the mid-2nd century B.C.E., various Jewish sects had established themselves. Here, compare and contrast two of the most dominant of these sects: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. What parts of society did they represent? What were their views on religious innovation and free will? With which group did Jesus…