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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Fascinating insights into ancient Jewish world
The structure is rather satisfying in that individual chapters cover seperate topics that are interesting enough to standalone, but when stacked one after another - like lego - fit together to build a more and more '3D' model of the Jewish world and culture that shaped Jesus. It's quite an objective portrait that is neither Christian or Jewish in slant, but rather historical - insofar as that is possible for such a far-removed time.
It's too obvious to say Jesus, so I'll give a special mention to Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, because he is such an important source for first century Jewish history, which was particulary violent and traumatic for the Jews and culminated in their sacred temple being destroyed. Interestingly, Jews themselves were not much interested in Josephus, being somewhat of a traitor, and as his writings were historical in nature rather than religiously inclined. Thus, it was Christians who preserved his writings.
The audiobook is historical in nature, so the characters are not 'performed' as such, but there are many important historical figures featured relevant to the Jewish story. And what a tumultuous story it is! Uprisings, conquests, schisms, exiles. Biblical Patriarchs, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Assenes, Pharisees, Maccabees, Samaritans, Galileeans. Whilst it's historical and academic, it still manages to be dramatic and fascinating with many colourful characters and villains.
Emotional is probably not the right word, but I was certainly intrigued. Everyone will draw something different from this course based on their perspective, but I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in Jewish history from early Biblical times leading up to the destruction of the Second Temple and/or anyone interested in finally getting to the bottom of what the enigma wrapped inside a riddle that is Jesus Christ was like. Or even just ancient history or religion in general. Some key questions you might have about him will be answered outright. Some other ones will probably spring to mind, but that's part of the fun of it.
I found the narration irritatingly slow at first - almost patronisingly so. However, I came to appreciate the delivery and structure after a few chapters. There's a lot of info. packed into each chapter, and you need to concentrate to a certain extent to join up the dots. Long periods pass where Christ is not mentioned at all. Cultural and historical context is key. If you chopped Christ and Christian sources such as the New Testament out of this book, most of the audiobook would still be intact as a fascinating insight into Jewish history and culture - Torah, ritual purity, prophets, apocalyptic and messianic fervour, foreign rulers and persecution, exile, different sects such as the austere Essenes, ordinary peoples' lives etc. It's terrific.
- Rustler Balfe
A most most misleading title.