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Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast

Philip A. Harland


The "Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean" podcast (by Philip A. Harland, York University) explores sociocultural life and ethnic relations in the Greco-Roman world, including ancient Judeans (Jews) and Jesus adherents.

Episodes are released in the official podcast feed but are available earlier here on archive.org. These episodes are not scripted; most are edited versions of improvised lectures from point-form notes.



There are several series in the podcast so far:

Series 1: Paul and his communities (12 episodes, Oct 2007 - Feb 2008 release)
Series 2: Early Christian portraits of Jesus (11 episodes, Feb 2008 - Sept 2008)
Series 3: Diversity in early Christianity: "Heresies" and struggles (16 episodes, Oct 2008-June 2009)
Series 4: Honouring the gods in the Roman Empire: Asia Minor (8 episodes; Sept 2009-Dec 2009)
Series 5: The Historical Jesus in context (14 episodes, Jan 2010-April 2011)
Series 6: Associations in the Greco-Roman World (14 episodes, April 2011-Oct 2012)
Series 7: Visions of the End 1: Origins of Judean Apocalypticism (Oct 2012-Oct 2013)
Series 8: A Cultural History of Satan: Evil Personified in Early Judaism and in Christianity (Nov 2013- )

Series 9: Ethnic Relations and Diaspora in the Ancient World (coming soon, in 2020)

Browse episodes starting with recent additions

Subscribe to the official podcast feed through iTunes or another podcatcher

Read more at: http://www.philipharland.com/Blog/


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Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 23, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I examine "On the Origin of the World" (one of the writings found at Nag Hammadi), which attributes to the creator God (Yaldabaoth) of the Hebrew Bible many of the negative attributes and motivations found in developing stories about Satan.  The result is a Satanic creator god and a wise serpent in the garden who brings knowledge ( gnosis ) and salvation.
Topics: satan, demiurge, gnosticism, gnosis, yaldabaoth, ancient judaism, early christianity, serpent,...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 23, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I discuss the expanded story of Adam and Eve that emerged around the turn of the common era as a way of explaining the motivations of Satan (primarily jealousy) in connection with both the creation of humans in the image of God and the serpent in the garden.
Topics: Satan, Devil, Life of Adam and Eve, ancient Judaism, early Christianity, ancient history
In the first of two episodes dealing with the Church Fathers, here I look at how Justin Martyr and Origen contribute to the story of Satan and his demons in countering external opponents.
Topics: Satan, Devil, Church Fathers, Celsus, Origen, Justin Martyr, ancient history, early Christianity
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 23, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I discuss Satan in John's Apocalypse (Revelation), pointing out how this author pulls together many strands of the story of Satan and does so to demonize an external power: the Roman empire.
Topics: Satan, the Devil, John's Apocalypse, Revelation, early Christianity, ancient Judaism, ancient...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 18, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I introduce Paul's apocalyptic worldview and go on to discuss the way in which some early Christian authors or leaders (e.g. Paul and the elder John) used the language or rhetoric of Satan or evil personified figures (e.g. Antichrist) to label and combat internal opponents within the Christian communities.
Topics: ancient history, early christianity, satan, devil, antichrist, ancient judaism, apostle paul,...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 16, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I discuss how the authors of the synoptic gospels portray Jesus in conflict with demons and with the Devil.
Topics: satan, devil, beelzebub, early christianity, ancient history, ancient judaism, gospel of mark,...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 16, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I continue to trace the development of evil personified figures in Judean literature around the turn of the first century BCE, focussing on Mastema (Enmity personified) and Beliar or Belial (Worthless One).  I also discuss the Princes of Darkness and of Light in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Topics: Satan, Judaism, devil, beliar, belial, mastema, jubilees, dead sea scrolls, early christianity,...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 16, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I discuss 1 Enoch's expanded story of the fallen angels headed by Azazel and Semyaz (based an interpretation of Genesis 6), which came to play a crucial role in the emerging story of Satan.
Topics: Satan, devil, 1 enoch, fallen angels, ancient Judaism, early Christianity, Genesis, flood, Hebrew...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 10, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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Here I discuss the battle between Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu in Persian Zoroastrianism in relation to the role of Satan within Judean apocalypticism.
Topics: satan, devil, zoroaster, zoroastrianism, apocalypticism, ahura mazda, angra mainyu, ancient...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 10, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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This episode continues to consider the centrality of the "combat myth" for the subsequent origins of Satan, considering Ugaritic (Canaanite) and Israelite examples of a god slaying a chaos monster, such as Leviathan.
Topics: Satan, personified evil, cultural history, religion, canaanite religion, israelite religion,...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
Sep 10, 2013 Philip A. Harland
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This series of the podcast investigates the origins, history and functions of personified evil from ancient Judean and Christian culture to modern, Western culture.  We begin with what you might call the pre-history of Satan by exploring the building blocks of what ultimately became the story of Satan within Judean (Jewish) and Christian circles.  The first among the predecessors of Satan are monsters (who are also gods) found within Mesopotamian mythology in the second and first millenia...
Topics: religion, ancient judaism, mesopotamia, israelite, combat myth, satan, devil, evil personified,...
Here I consider evidence from Josephus and the Gospels regarding John the Baptist and his importance for studying the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early christianity, historical jesus, john the baptist, judaism
Here I discuss this dialogue gospel in which Mary Magdalene is presented as Jesus' favorite disciple and the instructor of true knowledge. I explore notions of salvation in terms of the ascent of the soul, as well as the way in which this writing reflects struggles among different groups of Jesus-followers. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, women, gnosticism, mary, gospel of mary
This final episode in the series continues the discussion of how negative ethnic stereotypes (including accusations of human sacrifice, cannibalism, and incest) impacted immigrant associations and cultural minorities, including groups of Jesus followers.
Topics: Christians, stereotypes, cannibalism, human sacrifice, early Christianity, immigrants
Here I discuss Jesus as a Galilean and a Judean. I do so by looking at cultural life associated with the temple in the first century and the relations between cultures in Judea and Galilee. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: Judaism, historical jesus, galilee, early christianity
Here I discuss two main groups of opponents combated by Ignatius of Antioch in his letters to followers of Jesus in Asia Minor (Turkey): Docetic and Judaizing opponents (part 1 of 2). This episode introduces Ignatius (who wrote in the early second century) and explains the position of his docetic opponents, who thought that Jesus only appeared to be human when in fact he was a divine being. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the...
Topics: early Christianity, heresies, new testament, bible, apostolic fathers, ignatius of antioch,...
Here I go back to the earliest Mesopotamian mythologies (starting about 3000 BCE) about the gods in order to trace a recurring pattern -- labeled the "combat myth" by scholars -- that later came to play a role in Judean (Jewish) apocalypticism. In particular I explore stories about a chaotic god or monster threatening the order of the universe and a young god's success in slaying the monster to restore order.
Topics: apocalypticism, apocalyptic, armageddon, ancient judaism, early christianity, end of the world,...
Using Josephus and Philo as a starting point, here I discuss how people in the ancient world, including Judeans (Jews), Christians, and others, sometimes expressed the identities of Judean synagogues and Christian congregations in terms of association-life. Although peculiar in some respects, Judean and Christian groups can be studied alongside other associations in the Greco-Roman world. This is part of series 7 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient...
Topics: associations, guilds, social history, roman empire, greco-roman world, hellenistic, religion, early...
This episode looks at the situation at Rome in the mid-first century that led Paul to write the letter to the Romans, now in the New Testament. In particular, I delve into the purposes in Paul writing and his focus on what he sees as ethnic divisions between Greeks and Judeans in the groups of Jesus-followers. It appears that certain Greek or Gentile followers of Jesus were looking down upon Judean Jesus-followers who were concerned with following the law, including avoidance of foods...
Topics: early Christianity, bible, new testament, apostle paul, romans, judaism, christian origins
Here I discuss the Gospel of Philip (perhaps best known in connection with the Da Vinci Code). This episode deals with the author's worldview and ideas about the condition of humanity, preparing the way for a second episode on the practices and rituals that enacted salvation. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, gnosticism, gospels, gospel of philip
This episode introduces groups of early Jesus-followers within the context of associations, Judeans, and cultural minority groups, setting the stage for case studies of Jesus groups in Asia Minor (parts 2-3).
Topics: early christianity, associations, jesus, christianity
Here I continue to discuss how the gospel of Luke portrays Jesus as a prophet like Elijah, which also entails presenting Jesus as a saviour to the poor and marginalized of society (part 1 of 2).
Topics: gospels, jesus, early christianity, new testament, bible, gospel of luke, ancient history
Here I finish the discussion of the Gospel of Philip by focusing on the way in which notions of salvation were enacted in the practices of the followers of Jesus who used this writing. In particular, rituals such as the "bridal chamber" illustrate the connections between sex (as a metaphor) and salvation in the mindset of this author. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early christianity, gospel of philip, nag hammadi, gnosticism, bridal chamber
Here I continue to explain the worldview of the Apocryphon of John, particularly its notions regarding the material realm, the inferior creator god (demiurge), and salvation from this realm. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, gnosticism, nag hammadi
This is the second of two episodes that explore two contrasting scholarly portraits of the historical Jesus, those of John Dominic Crossan (Jesus as egalitarian peasant) and E.P. Sanders (Jesus as apocalyptic prophet). This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, historical jesus, judaism, new testament, bible
This and the following episode look at legacies and interpretations of Paul after his death. In particular, I use several letters written in the name of Paul (the Pastoral epistles) and a novelistic story about Paul and a woman named Thecla (Acts of Paul and Thecla) as a window into debates about leadership of women in groups of Jesus-followers in the second century. These diverging portraits of Paul can be better understood against the background of Greek and Roman criticisms of certain early...
Topics: early christianity, bible, christian origins, new testament, thecla, acts of paul and thecla,...
This second episode on Paul's letter to the Galatians looks at Paul's response to the situation involving opponents that were advocating circumcision. I discuss the apocalyptic rationale behind Paul's notion that circumcision was not an entrance requirement for Gentiles to belong to the Jesus groups. In the process, I also begin to deal with Paul's complicated positions regarding the Torah (the law) and its relation to non-Judeans. This series is part of the Religions of the Ancient...
Topics: early Christianity, new testament, bible, christian origins, ancient judaism, greco-roman...
Here I discuss how the gospel of Luke portrays Jesus as a prophet like Elijah, which also entails presenting Jesus as a saviour to the poor and marginalized of society (part 1 of 2). In this first part, I provide some important background for understanding this two volume work, Luke-Acts, both as ancient biography and as ancient history-writing.
Topics: early Christianity, new testament, bible, gospel of luke, gospels, jesus, ancient history,...
Here I continue to delve into the opponents in John's epistles (part 2 of 2). These epistles provide evidence of an early Christian schism over how to view Jesus' humanity. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, bible, new testament, heresies, christian origins
Here I set the stage for the study of specific Nag Hammadi and related writings by outlining in broad terms some common denominators or assumptions in the range of worldviews traditionally labeled "gnostic". This includes discussion of the Middle Platonic assumptions of many authors. I also deal with the importance of knowledge (gnosis) in the understanding of how salvation from the material realm, which was created by an inferior god, takes place. This is part of series 3...
Topics: early christianity, ancient history, gnosticism, gnostic, christian origins, plato, platonic...
Here I use two related Nag Hammadi writings -- Eugnostos the Blessed and The Sophia of Jesus Christ -- as a window into forms of Christianity that were heavily influenced by Middle Platonic philosophy, particularly in regard to cosmology and the divine Triad. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, plato, philosophy, gnosticism, gnostic, sophia
Here I use the region of Asia Minor (Turkey) as a case study that allows me to outline various strands and styles within Christianity in the first and second centuries. I then go on to outline our approach to studying the worldviews and practices of Christian groups and "heresies" in the second and third centuries. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, new testament, bible, christian origins, paul, history, ancient history,...
Here I conclude the discussion of Ignatius by discussing his Judaizing opponents, who advocated certain Jewish beliefs and practices. I also deal with Ignatius' strategies in combating groups he considered heretical. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, christian origins, new testament, bible, ignatius of antioch, heresies, history
This third episode looks at Paul's response to followers of Jesus at Thessalonica, including his attempt to comfort these socially dislocated Christians, his use of familial language to build up their identity, and his use of praising (demonstrative) rhetoric. It also begins to consider Paul as an apocalyptic Judean. This episode is part of series one ("Paul and his Communities") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, judaism, new testament, 1 thessalonians, apostle paul, early christianity,...
This second episode looks at the situation among followers of Jesus at Thessalonica in Macedonia in the mid-first century. Considering the ethnic and social makeup of the earliest Christians, this episode also discusses two main problems faced by these followers of Jesus: “afflictions” and the death of fellow-followers of Jesus. This prepares the way for episode three, which will look at how Paul responds to this situation in his letter, known as 1 Thessalonians in the New Testament. This...
Topics: history, Christianity, early christianity, christian origins, new testament, judaism, apostle paul,...
This fourth episode is part one of three that look at the followers of Jesus at Corinth through Paul's letter known as 1 Corinthians in the New Testament. After discussing the city of Corinth, I go on to consider the history of Paul's interactions with these Christians, which was characterized by rocky relations. Then we delve into the situation among the Corinthians that led Paul to write his letter, primarily the issue of social and religious divisions within the Jesus groups at Corinth (in 1...
Topics: early Christianity, christian origins, apostle paul, 1 corinthians, corinth, greco-roman world,...
Here I discuss the way in which the book of Hebrews portrays Jesus both as highpriest Melchizedek and once for all sacrifice (part 1 of 2). This is part of series 2 ("Early Christian Portraits of Jesus") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: new testament, bible, early christianity, hebrews, melchizedek, judaism
Here I discuss the way in which the book of Hebrews portrays Jesus both as highpriest Melchizedek and once for all sacrifice (part 2 of 2). In particular, I explore the ways in which this author is saturated by the Hebrew scriptures and influenced by Platonic philosophy. This is the final episode in series 2 ("Early Christian Portraits of Jesus") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, judaism, christian origins
This fifth episode continues discussion of the situation at Corinth as reflected in chapters 6-15 of 1 Corinthians, dealing with problems that arose due to the socially superior position of some Corinthian Christians and the spiritually superior claims of others. This episode is part of series one ("Paul and his Communities") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, new testament, bible, 1 corinthians, christian origins, greco-roman religion,...
Here I delve into the issue of diversity in early Christianity by using the opponents in John's epistles as a starting point (part 1 of 2). These epistles provide evidence of an early Christian schism over how to view Jesus' humanity. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
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Topics: early Christianity, New Testament, Bible, Gospel of John, Epistles, history
Here I continue to explore Jewish followers of Jesus by examining key passages in an apocryphal novel attributed to Clement of Rome, also known as the Pseudo-Clementine writings. In particular, an opening letter claiming to be written by Peter to James and the story of Peter's debates with Simon Magus (a cipher for Paul) provide glimpses into struggles between Jewish followers of Jesus and others, including Pauline forms of Christianity. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early...
Topics: early Christianity, pseudo-clementine, apocrypha, paul, peter, bible, new testament, early...
This episode is the second of three that introduce key historical sources and problems in reconstructing the life of a peasant from Galilee, the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: jesus, historical jesus, early Christianity, judaism
Here I investigate the historical Jesus within the context of contemporaries who were viewed as healers and exorcists in first century Galilee and Judea. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: historical jesus, healing, miracles, early christianity, exorcism, exorcist
Here I sketch out our main sources for the study of diverse Christian groups or "heresies" in the second and third centuries, including discussion of the early Christian Apocrypha, the Nag Hammadi writings, and the Church Fathers, or patristic writings. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, apocrypha, nag hammadi, gnosticism, gnostic, church fathers, patristic, new...
This is the second of two episodes that consider the historical Jesus in the role of teacher. Here I discuss evidence regarding Jesus' conception of the "kingdom of God" and the scholarly debates regarding Jesus' present or (imminent) future focus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: historical jesus, early christianity, kingdom of god
In order to provide a context for Jesus in the role of a teacher, here I discuss contemporary educated Judean groups and leaders, including Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and the Dead Sea sect. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early christianity, historical jesus, judaism
Here I continue to discuss groups of Jesus followers in Asia Minor with case studies of 1 Peter and Revelation (John's Apocalypse), focussing on both indications of identity construction or maintenance and signs of assimilation or acculturation.
Topics: 1 Peter, new testament, early christianity, acculturation, assimilation, identity
In this first episode of the series, I discuss our evidence for associations and guilds in the Greco-Roman world and outline the various types of these groups, including family-based, occupation-based, neighbourhood-based, and ethnic-based groups. This is part of series 6 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: associations, guilds, social history, roman empire, greco-roman world, hellenistic, religion, early...
Here I explore the internal activities of associations, pointing to intertwined social, religious, and burial purposes that these groups served for their members. We take a close look at one particular association devoted to the god Zeus and the goddess Agdistis at Philadelphia in Asia Minor (LSAM 20). This is part of series 6 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: associations, guilds, social history, roman empire, greco-roman world, hellenistic, religion, early...
In this first episode I begin to define apocalypticism with reference to (1) a worldview or ideology focused on an imminent end of the world, (2) social groupings that live out that worldview, and (3) a type writing or genre of literature (e.g. the book of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible and John's Revelation.in the New Testament). This is part of series 7 (Visions of the End: Apocalypticism) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: apocalypticism, apocalyptic, armageddon, ancient judaism, early christianity, end of the world,...
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
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In this first episode on Paul and his communities, we look at autobiographical statements by Paul as a way of introducing Paul and his letters from an historical perspective. This is part of series one (Paul and his Communities) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast. (Episode re-edited and improved January 29, 2009.)
Topics: history, early christianity, new testament, apostle paul, religion, ancient history, early...
This final episode in series 1 concludes the discussion of the Acts of Paul and Thecla in relation to the Pastoral epistles, addressing the ways in which Paul was used within debates about womens' leadership in second century groups of Jesus-followers. This is the final episode in series 1. Series 2 will take an historical and literary look at the gospels in terms of "Portraits of Jesus in Early Christianity". This episode is part of series one ("Paul and his Communities")...
Topics: early Christianity, history, Christian origins, new Testament, bible, acts of paul and thecla,...
This episode considers Paul's response to the ethnic divisions that existed among groups of Jesus-followers at Rome. Here I discuss Paul's main arguments regarding the equally condemnable and equally save-able status of both Judeans and Greeks (or Gentiles), as well as Paul's view that "all Israel will be saved". This series is part of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast, connected with the blog of the same name at
Topics: early Christianity, christian origins, bible, new testament, apostle paul, romans, greco-roman...
This episode looks at the situation in Galatia that led Paul to write his letter in the mid-first century (part 1 of 2). After Paul left this region of Asia Minor, certain leaders of the Jesus movement had passed through and discovered Gentiles (non-Judeans) who were not circumcized, despite the fact they thought they belonged to this Judean (Jewish) movement. Here I explore the rationale of these opponents of Paul who advocated circumcision as an entrance requirement into the movement and as a...
Topics: new testament, apostle paul, galatia, galatians, bible, early christianity, christian origins,...
This episode concludes the discussion of followers of Jesus at Corinth with a focus on Paul's response to the situation (in 1 Corinthians). Here we see Paul's education in Greco-Roman methods of rhetoric or argumentation. Paul's arguments for unity and against divisions provide a clear example of deliberative rhetoric, comparable to political speeches by the likes of Dio Chrysostom. This episode is part of series one ("Paul and his Communities") of the Religions of the Ancient...
Topics: early christianity, new testament, 1 corinthians, apostle paul, christian origins, ancient judaism,...
Here I continue to discuss how the gospel of John portrays Jesus as both the Word of God and the Son sent by the Father (part 2 of 2).
Topics: jesus, bible, new testament, gospels, gospel of John, ancient history, early christianity,...
Here I consider how Jesus is portrayed in the narrative of the gospel of Mark, namely as the secretive and suffering Son of God (part 1 of 2). I discuss Mark's use of literary irony in connection with the secrecy issue and cover critical points at which Jesus' identity comes to the fore in this ancient biography written for a Gentile (non-Judean) audience. This episode is part of series two ("Early Christian Portraits of Jesus") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast,...
Topics: Jesus, Gospels, early christianity, christian origins, bible, new testament, ancient history,...
Here I continue the discussion of Matthew's portrait of Jesus as the new David and new Moses (part 2 of 2). I also delve into tensions between the Matthean community and other groups of Judeans in the late first century. This is part of series 2 ("Early Christian portraits of Jesus") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, christian origins, new testament, matthew, gospels, jesus, ancient history
Here I begin to explain the worldview of the Apocryphon of John, one of the Nag Hammadi writings (part 1 of 2). Like other writings in that collection, this author makes a clear distinction between the perfect spiritual realm, also known as the "fullness", and an inferior material realm created by a jealous god or "ruler" (archon). In this episode I describe the perfect spiritual realm and the process of emanations from the perfect "Invisible Spirit" or...
Topics: early Christianity, ancient history, nag hammadi, apocryphon of john, gnosticism, platonism
This and the following episode consider the historical Jesus in the role of teacher. Here I discuss the form or method of his instruction, and begin to introduce the centrality of the "Kingdom of God" to his teachings. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, historical jesus, kingdom of god
Beginning with James the brother of Jesus and the Jerusalem church, here I trace evidence for Judean followers of Jesus and discuss their gradual marginalization. In particular, I focus attention on Jewish-Christian groups that the patristic sources (e.g. Irenaeus, Epiphanius) label "the Ebionites", or "poor ones". This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, christian origins, judaism, ancient history, ebionites, james the just, new...
This episode is the first of three that introduce key historical sources and problems in reconstructing the life of a peasant from Galilee, the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, jesus, historical jesus, judaism, christian origins
Ethnic Relations and Cultural Life in the Ancient Mediterranean Podcast
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Here I discuss first-century Judean concepts of the prophet and place Jesus within the context of other figures who were viewed as prophets. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: historical jesus, early christianity, judaism
Here I continue to place Jesus and Galilee within the broader context of Israelite history. This episode works through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, including the time of Jesus, and finishes with a discussion of social and economic life in first century Galilee and Judea. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: historical jesus, early christianity, new testament, judaism, christian origins
Here I discuss first-century Judean concepts relating to an anointed one, or messiah, particularly a kingly messiah, and discuss contemporary figures who were viewed as kings. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: jesus, early christianity, messiah, king, judaism
Here I discuss the very Judean portrait of Jesus as the new David and new Moses in the Gospel of Matthew (part 1 of 2). This illustrates well the ways in which ancient biographical writers, including the gospel authors, shaped portraits of the main character using specific types of the past or stereotypes. This is part of series 2 ("Early Christian portraits of Jesus") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early Christianity, christian origins, church history, gospels, matthew, judaism, ancient history
Here I discuss some introductory issues regarding the gospels, including their status as ancient biographies or portraits of Jesus and the literary relationships among the synoptic gospels. This sets the stage for an historical and literary study of portraits of Jesus in Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. This episode is part of series two ("Early Christian Portraits of Jesus") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast, which is connected with the blog of the same name at
Topics: Jesus, early christianity, ancient biographies, gospels, synoptic gospels, ancient history,...
Here I discuss how the gospel of John portrays Jesus as both the Word of God and the Son sent by the Father. I also deal with this gospel's stress on the importance of "signs" pointing to Jesus' identity and the way in which Jesus ("Lamb of God") is viewed as a fulfillment of Jewish festivals, especially Passover (part 1 of 2).
Topics: new testament, bible, gospels, gospel of John, early Christianity, Christian origins, ancient...
Here I explore Marcionite forms of Christianity, which contrast significantly to the Judean forms discussed in the previous episode. Followers of Marcion believed that the legalistic God of the Hebrew Bible was to be distinguished from the loving, unknown Father-God who sent Jesus, and that Law was opposed to Gospel. This is part of series 3 ("Diversity in Early Christianity: 'Heresies' and Struggles") of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: marcion, heresies, diversity, early Christianity, christian origins, ancient history
This episode is the third of three that introduce key historical sources and problems in reconstructing the life of a peasant from Galilee, the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: early christianity, jesus, historical jesus, judaism, new testament