Thursday, March 5, 2009

The lines of Brabant and much more - Historyzine podcast review

Historyzine's ongoing narrative is about the Spanish War of Succession and by the end of the latest episode, host Jim Mowatt continues where he left off last time. The year 1703 had been very successful for his hero the Duke of Marlbourough, but in 1704 he was facing difficulty at the Lines of Brabant. Some of his allies let him down and left him facing the French in an advantageous position. Find out how the Duke keeps the alliance together and attempts a daring attack.

The story of Duke Marlbourough is a much smaller part of the whole podcast this time. Mowatt reveals to us, he has been investigating his family tree and shares his discovery how personal history can tie in with the grand scheme of affairs. He adds an interview with genealogy podcaster Lisa Louise Cooke to further elaborate on genealogy, the excitement and the increased possibilities to do research with all that the internet has to offer.

In addition to all this, he also brings his charming language trivia (where does the phrase 'to fork out' come from?) and a history podcast review. The review is about the widely acclaimed BBC production In Our Time, which I have review frequently as well.

More Historyzine:
Historyzine at its best,
The battle of Blenheim,
Reliving the War of Spanish Succession,
The year 1703,
On admirals and more.

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The fox and the hedgehog

The podcast From Israelite to Jew (feed), by Michael L. Satlow is an ongoing study into the development and nature of the Hebrews in early antiquity. This was the time they developed from Israelites, a nation, or a set of tribes within a loose nation into an ethnic group the Jews. It offers a very clear and accessible insight into the study of the Bible and history.

Within the series is one exceptional episode that is hardly related to the subject at all and it bears the enigmatic title The hedgehog, the fox and the Talmud. Even though this episode is reflecting on the study of the Talmud and I have little or no understanding of the Talmud, there was quite a chord struck in me.

Satlow ponders upon the question how the Torah and consecutively the Talmud can be studied if they are such a vast collection of writings. Those writings are from different ages, from different perspectives and ideologies and also of different natures and styles. How can one take this hotchpotch as one whole with some kind of unity and system that can be studied? A beginning of an answer he finds in Tolstoy and his use of the fox and the hedgehog as animals who each have a different way of perception and approach to reality and these than serve as exemplars of how one can think. It resonated in me with my old struggles when I was writing my PhD about the system of Law and had to find some way of assuming logic and unity within the vast body of the Law that is also an anthology of different kinds of rules, from different ages and with different goals, values, criteria and ideologies in mind.

It seems to me that Satlow by applying Tolstoy's analogy to the study of Talmud, makes an application that is useful in many other fields of study, theory of Law not in the least.

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