Wednesday, October 14, 2009

TBE To-Go: Online Class "From Israelite to Jew"

Using the power of the Internet to bring world-class scholarship to our doorstep, we'll be embarking on a new adult ed venture called "TBE To-Go." Much like a book group, I'll be recommending seminars that can be heard at your own convenience, and then we'll be coming together to discuss them.

I'm particularly excited about our first offering: "From Israelite to Jew," by Michael Satlow, an 18 part series tracing the history of Judaism and the Jewish people from the time of the Babylonian Exile through the Second Temple period. Satlow is Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies at Brown University, where he began teaching in 2002. He received his doctorate from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1993. Professor Satlow specializes in Early Judaism and has written extensively on issues of gender, sexuality, and marriage among Jews in antiquity, as well as on the Dead Sea scrolls, Jewish theology, methodology in Religious Studies, and the social history of Jews during the rabbinic period.

This series was designed for popular consumption (i.e. it is not overly technical or jargon-filled), but it goes into great depth in discussing topics essential to the formation of what we now know as Judaism, including the composition of the Torah, the stories of Esther and the Maccabees, key figures like Ezra and Herod and the origins of Christianity. I can't recommend it enough.

When you hear these lectures, there will undoubtedly be questions. So I’ll be scheduling periodic discussion “sections,” where we can all come together and chew over this rich material. The first such section will take place on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 25, FROM 11 AM TO NOON. I’ve scheduled an additional section (covering the same chapters), on Synaplex Shabbat, OCTOBER 31, AT 8:45 AM. When the group gathers on those days, we’ll decide when to schedule the next one

I'm asking that people come to these sessions having listened to the first four lectures of the series: the introductory episode, "Between Faith and Reason," (an excellent treatment of the subject of why study religion at all), along with "Religion of Israel," "Exile" and "Return," covering the period of the Babylonian Exile. Each episode is about a half hour long. It is fine if you haven't heard all four by the 25th.

The episodes can be downloaded in several ways, all free of charge, including by going onto iTunes Music Store and entering "Satlow." You can also find them below.

Please RSVP is you are planning to come to the class so I can prepare enough supplementary materials. The lectures and class are free - as we take advantage of one of the great educational opportunities of the Internet Age.

From Israelite to Jew: 1: Between Faith and Reason
Prof. Satlow explores the relationship between religion and its academic study, suggesting that the two ways of understanding religion are not diametrically opposed. Click below to play or
here for other options.

From Israelite to Jew: 2: Religion of Israel
This second episode focuses on the religion of ancient Israel, as reflected in the Hebrew Bible and archaeological finds. Click below to play or here for other options.

From Israelite to Jew: 3: Exile
The third episode of the podcast, "From Israelite to Jew," discusses the events leading up to the destruction of the First Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BCE, and the resulting exile. Click below to play or here for other options.

From Israelite to Jew: 4: Return
The fourth episode traces the first two returns from Babylonia to Jerusalem, first under Sheshbazzar and then under the dual leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, and the building of the Second Temple (539 BCE - 516). Click below to play or here for other options.

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