Thursday, October 8, 2009

MMW4 - New Ideas, Clash of Cultures

An excellent history professor and lecturer at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is Matthew Herbst. Herbst's excellent instruction can be enjoyed in podcast in the recurring (and ever disappearing) podcast lecture series MMW - the making of the modern world. Just now, the fourth section of the series, MMW 4, is back on line. This is world history covering the time 1200 - 1750 CE, titled New Ideas, Clash of Cultures; a comparative perspective. (feed)

For the help of his students and the enjoyment of us podcast eavesdroppers, Herbst has set up a website to go along with his MMW teachings in general, and to begin with MMW 4 in particular. This contains questions and answers, the syllabus, articles and more. I am sure this will prove to be a valuable asset to the podcast listeners, just as much as to the students.

There are more podcasts and podcast lecture series that give insight in world history of this era. Herbst's added value is, that he genuinely does world history. He is one of the few to go beyond the western perspective and familiarize us with other histories. In this series you can expect Arabs, Mongols, Chinese, Japanese, Ottomans as well as Europeans.

One last word: UCSD courses are online only for the duration of the semester. Make sure you download while you can.

More MMW 4:
When the steppe meets empire,
Gengis Khan,
MMW 4 first review.

The Dead Sea Scrolls - FITJ

If you saw no reason to listen to Michael Satlow's podcast From Israelite to Jew, because you were not especially interested in the history of Judaism or the Bible or such, you may find there is still something to find. The latest issue is about the Dead Sea Scrolls, that marvelous archeological find that has so many mesmerized and has given cause to so many speculations.

Satlow retells the drama of the scrolls' find, hiding and eventual disclosure. He also gives a good inventory of what is among the scrolls. What kind of texts they are, whose they were, why they were stored in the caves near Qumran on the north west shore of the Dead Sea. One gets to understand the amazing riches of the find. A nearly complete Hebrews Bible, many centuries older than manuscripts available at the time. In addition many other texts that give insight in the theological, historical and social situation at the time.

The question whose texts these were, is closely intertwined with what authority they carry. Eventually, Satlow emphasizes the historical importance and historical questions around the find. Central are the questions about what Jewish sect owned and produced the scrolls. Are they the elusive Essenes or not? Without giving a definitive answer, the non-biblical texts in the find, add to the inventory of Jewish sects and streams of thought and theologies of the time, including the just arrived early Christians.

More FITJ:
Herod the Ambiguous,
Jewish varieties,
Jews in the Hasmonean era,
The Maccabee Uprising,