Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Great Figures of the New Testament

Great Figures of the New Testament
Professor Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Improve your biblical literacy and re-encounter the New Testament as a great repository of literary genius. This is the promise of Professor Amy-Jill Levine's vivid portraits of the cast of characters in the New Testament.
While most of the figures treated are real, historical people, at least two (the Prodigal Son and the Good Samaritan) are fictional protagonists in stories told by Jesus within Luke's Gospel.
Some figures are famous. Others, such as the Syro-Phoenician woman who must turn Jesus' own words back upon him to gain the healing of her daughter, are not so famous but deserve to be better remembered.
Christianity's Founding Generation
Our great figures include not only Jesus himself, but also:
• A bullheaded fisherman from Galilee
• An educated tentmaker from Tarsus
• Several politically unaware magi, martyrs, Roman army officers, bad rulers, and the prophets who run afoul of them
• One enigmatic betrayer
• A number of strong and interesting women (including the unnamed Samaritan, a Canaanite mother, Martha the homeowner and her sister Mary, and a repentant sinner who anoints Jesus).
Representing the models of Old Testament piety are the elderly couple Elizabeth and Zechariah. The story of their son, John the Baptist, moves us immediately into the dangerous world of the 1st century, where messianic fervor was on the rise and

Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair.
popular prophets knew their lives were in danger.
You encounter Jesus' friends, the contemplative Mary and the vocal Martha, as well as their brother Lazarus. You join the conversations with Jesus' interlocutors: Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, the centurion with a paralyzed son, and the desperate Canaanite mother with a demon-possessed daughter.
You explore the stories of the Apostles Peter and Thomas, James and John, Mary Magdalene (who becomes known as the apostle to the apostles), and Judas Iscariot—from the times they spent with Jesus to their post-canonical fates.

From the early years of the church, you meet James, "the brother of the Lord," and Stephen, the first martyr. You explore how much we know about the centurions who represented Rome's military presence, and Pontius Pilare.
As for Paul the Apostle, Professor Levine investigates both his presentation in Acts of the Apostles and what can be determined about him from his letters.
The point of this exploration is not to inculcate any theology, let alone any particular religious world-view. Rather, it seeks to read the ancient texts anew to discover what they really say and how they were interpreted by both the secular culture and the faithful church.
Should I Buy Audio or Video?
This course works well in any format. The DVD version is illustrated with more than 50 images to reinforce your learning, including photographs, illustrations, and on-screen graphics.
"This is a great piece of work. ... Winner, 2003 Readers Preference Reviews Editor's Choice Awards."
—Readers Preference Reviews
"Superb insighrs into key and less well-known New Testament characters. Professor's ability to weave themes, ancient documents' content—both rel-evanr and arcane—made the course a wonderful learning experience."
—William Mecom, Los Angeles, CA

Lecture Titles
1 The New Testament
2 John the Baptist
3 The Virgin Mary
4 Joseph, Magi, and Shepherds
5 Peter
6 John and James,
the Sons of Zebedee
7 Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
8 "Doubting" Thomas

9 The Gentile Mother
10 The Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son
11 The Samaritan Woman
12 Mary Magdalene
13 Pharisees and Sadducees
14 The Herodians
15 Judas Iscariot
16 Pontius Pilate

17 James -; ,
18 Stephen
19 Philip
20 The Centurions
21 Paul, the Hero of Acts
22 Paul, the Epistolary Evangelist
23 Jesus of Nazareth
24 The Christ of Faith .,..,,,.

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