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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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Here I discuss the active role of the gods in punishing transgressors by focusing on indigenous practices in the region of Lydia, particularly the propitiation or confession inscriptions. This is part of series 4 (Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: confession inscriptions, propitiation, lydia, phrygia, roman empire, greco-roman religion, gods
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
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
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...
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
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,...
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
- Philip A. Harland
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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...
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
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 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
This is the introductory episode for a series that explores the various ways in which people in the Roman empire, especially in Asia Minor, honoured and communicated with their gods. This is part of series 4 (Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: greco-roman world, roman empire, religion, asia minor, greek religion, roman religion
Here I explain emperor worship and the various types of honours for the emperors as gods, including imperial cults at the provincial, civic, and local levels in Asia Minor. This is part of series 4 (Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: emperor worship, imperial cults, greco-roman religions
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
- Philip A. Harland
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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
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 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 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 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
This episode continues the discussion of Judean immigrant associations, turning to archeological evidence for assimilation and integration in the Roman era. This is part of series 6 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: jewish, judean, immigrants, roman empire, greco-roman world, religion, jewish diaspora, josephus,...
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 the relation between associations and Greco-Roman society with a focus on the Greek polis or city. This is part of series 6 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.
Topics: associations, Greco-Roman society, polis
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 introduce the "historical apocalypse" of Daniel, including a discussion of the kingdoms in king Nebuchadnezzar's dream (ch. 2) and the historical context of chapters 7-12 (the apocalypse proper) during the time of the Hellenistic king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (in the 160s BCE).
Topics: apocalypse, apocalypticism, end of the world, judaism, christianity, daniel, antiochus epiphanes
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 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