This week I need to take a break from my current thread on the development of early Christology. It’s not because I’ve run out of things to say, although that will happen eventually. It’s because I’m completely tied up with something else this week that will be sucking up most of my time and virtually all of my energy.
This week I’m recording a new course for the Teaching Company (now called The Great Courses). If you don’t know about the Great Courses, you should! It’s an amazing outfit. The provide courses on CD or DVD on an enormous number of academic subjects, from astronomy to philosophy to history to classics to music to physics to … well, to you name it. And they do a lot of courses in religion/religious studies.
I buy courses myself to watch. Probably their bestselling professor is Robert Greenberg, a brilliant lecturer and master of all things musical. His course “How to Listen to and Appreciate Great Music” is absolutely fabulous – 48 lectures on the history of Western music (uh, not country-western 🙂 ) from the early Greeks to the early 20th century, with greatest focus, as you would expect, on the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. Now I’m onto something else: my daughter is homeschooling her kids and wants to get “up” on Roman history, and so I’m watching Garrett Fagan’s History of Rome 48-lecture series to see if I can recommend it. I can. Really interesting stuff.
Anyway, I’ve done six courses over the years – but it’s been a long time since the last one. My first two were an Introduction to the New Testament and The Historical Jesus. I really, really thought that the historical Jesus would outsell the NT course; the experts at the company really, really thought it would not; and, as it turns out, they were really, really right. Along with my NT course my best selling one is Lost Christianities. I also have courses on From Jesus to Constantine (a history or earliest Christianity), After the New Testament (largely on the Apostolic Fathers); and a shorter twelve-lecture course (the others are all 24-lectures) on History of the Bible.
So, the course I’m doing now, this week, is The Greatest Controversies in Early Christianity. It too is a 24-lecture course, and deals with issues that have been controversial in modern times about Jesus, the New Testament, and the early Christian church. It includes lectures (all of these are 30 minutes in length) on:
• Was Jesus born in Bethlehem?
• Was Jesus’ mother a virgin?
• Was Jesus married?
• Is Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
• Is Paul the Founder of Christianity?
• Were the Jews expecting a Suffering Messiah?
• Did the Disciples Write the Gospels?
• Does the Book of Revelation Predictour Future?
• Did the Early Christians Believe in the Trinity?
• Is the Old Testament a Christian Book?
• Who Decided Which Books Should be in the New Testament?
And, well, a bunch of others – 24 altogether. As I think I mentioned in an earlier blog, this course (unlike my others) will be audio-only. And I’m recording six lectures a day for four days in a row. I’m planning on being completely exhausted at the end, and Friday night, I’m having a big cigar and a big martini!