Saturday, April 26, 2008

World history guided by the religions

UC San Diego's Charles Chamberlain delivers one of the two MMW 3 (Making of the Modern World - The Medieval Heritage) history podcast lectures that I have recently discovered and am enjoying completely. The other is delivered by Matthew Herbst and I have reviewed that series yesterday.

Chamberlain covers roughly the same material as Herbst, but takes a very original perspective. He uses the dominant religions as a starting point. The first 12 lectures thus far, started from Christianity and mixed church history with theological history. He clearly is convinced that this perspective allows the students to get easier access to the history. It certainly works for me and also works very nicely in a complementary fashion towards those areas that are covered by other, more standard, history podcasts, most notably Herbst's.

On a technical note it needs to be pointed out that the first two lectures were not podcast and that what appears as lecture #11 is actually empty. One should not fear missing out on too much, at most some of the visuals referred to, but there are not too many of those. Also some prolonged silences at the beginning and end of the podcasts shouldn't prove to be insurmountable. Around those minor points there is a superb history podcast to be enjoyed.

Perfect additions to this lecture series are In Our Times issue about the Nicene Creed and Thomas Sheehan's The Historical Jesus (Stanford, feed, review). Whereas In Our Time could be a nice preparation or a valuable complement to the lectures 8-12, The Historical Jesus digs much deeper and would be an excellent follow-up from the first handful of lectures.

Relevant other reviews:
The Nicene Creed - IOT,
Historical Jesus - Tom Sheehan, Stanford,
World history outside the European box,
Making of the Modern World - UCSD,
UC San Diego's podcast courses.

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