Watched Lecture 4 of 24: Augustine's Pagan and Christian Audience by Charles Mathewes from The City of God (Books That Matter) | The Great Courses
Before delving into the text of The City of God, Professor Mathewes sets the stage with some context about the many audiences that Augustine was writing for, as well as the arguments against Christians that he was confronting. See how Augustine co-opted Roman notions of city" and "glory" and applied them to his divine purpose."
A fascinating lecture about the word City of the title and the first word of the book with a tad about the rest of the first sentence!
Watched Lecture 18: Arguing with Paul? by Dale B. Martin from RLST 152: Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature

Early Christianity presents us with a wide diversity in attitudes towards the law. There were also many different Christologies circulating in different communities. The book of James presents one unique perspective. It seems to be written in the tradition of Jewish wisdom literature in its presentation of sayings and its concern for the poor. James also presents a view of works and faith that seems to oppose Pauline teaching. However, the terms "faith" and "works" function differently in Paul's writings and in the book of James

  • 00:00 - Chapter 1. Diversity in Early Christianity: Attitudes towards the Jewish Law
  • 03:57 - Chapter 2. Diversity in Early Christianity: Christology
  • 21:03 - Chapter 3. James as Jewish Wisdom Literature
  • 27:47 - Chapter 4. Faith and Works in James in Comparison to Paul

Complete course materials are available at the Open Yale Courses website: http://open.yale.edu/courses

Interesting to think about how much of our culture is built on the writings of the rich and privileged and the compounding effect it has had over the millennia. 
Read Donatism (Wikipedia)
Donatism (Latin: Donatismus, Greek: Δονατισμός Donatismós) was a heresy leading to schism in the Church of Carthage from the fourth to the sixth centuries AD. Donatists argued that Christian clergy must be faultless for their ministry to be effective and their prayers and sacraments to be valid. Donatism had its roots in the long-established Christian community of the Roman Africa province (now Algeria and Tunisia) in the persecutions of Christians under Diocletian. Named after the Berber Christian bishop Donatus Magnus, Donatism flourished during the fourth and fifth centuries.
Watched How a Bible prophecy shapes Trump's foreign policy from Vox | YouTube

For an influential group of American Christians, support for Israel -- and hatred of Iran -- are based in a biblical prophecy.

When President Trump authorized the drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, he wasn't just flexing America's muscle in the Middle East.

He was also acting on the advice of a politically powerful group of evangelical Christians who believe that the US and Israel are part of the Bible's plan to bring about the second coming of Jesus.

Once considered a fringe element of the religious right, evangelical Christian Zionists are playing an increasingly visible role in Republican politics. Today, unprecedented access to the Trump administration has given them an opportunity to reshape the Middle East.

Additional reading:
https://newrepublic.com/article/156166/pence-pompeo-evanglicals-war-iran-christian-zionism

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/05/14/half-of-evangelicals-support-israel-because-they-believe-it-is-important-for-fulfilling-end-times-prophecy/

https://www.vox.com/2018/11/5/18059454/trump-white-evangelicals-christian-nationalism-john-fea

A previous version of this video misstated, at 1:40, the percentage of Americans who are Christian but neither Evangelical nor Catholic. The error has been corrected.

The headline on this piece has also been updated. Previous headline: How the Bible shapes Trump's foreign policy

There’s religion, and then there’s just crazy pants.
Watched Born Again (2007) from Netflix

Born and raised in an Evangelical Christian family, director Markie Hancock struggled through her childhood to find the line between her family and her religion, between her duties to God and Jesus and her responsibilities to her parents and herself. Fervent in her beliefs, she thought she would pursue a religious calling until the true nature of her sexuality and her need to express her own doubts brought her into a final confrontation with her upbringing. This is the story of that confrontation and what was won and what was lost.

movie poster for Born Again featuring a black and white photo of a prototypical white family from the 60's in front of a christmas tree

I’m glad this exists, but would not watch it again.

It is interesting to note that this was made in 2007 and presaged the political turmoil of the 2016 election. It also goes a long way to explore some of the political divisions within the country during the decade or more after it was made.

Rating: ★★½

The importance of bread in society: the etymology of Lord

In listening to The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth Lerer (Lecture 8), I came across an interesting word etymology which foodies and particularly bread fans will appreciate.

Dr. Lerer was talking about the compression of syllables at the border of Old English and Middle English circa 1100 which occurred in such terms as hlaf weard, the warden (or guardian) of the loaf.

Who is the guardian of the loaf? The hlfaf weard << The hlaweard << the laweard << the lord. This is the etymology of the word 'lord'. Lord is the guardian of the bread, the mete-er out of bread in a cereal society.

An interesting linguistic change that tells us a lot about power, structure, religion, and society surrounding bread of the time. I suppose one could also look at Christian traditions of the time which looked at the transubstantiation of the symbolic bread of the Last Supper which is ritually turned into the body of Christ–Christ, our lord.

One can’t help noting the slang use of the word “bread” to mean “money”. Perhaps it’s time to go back and re-visit Jeremy Cherfas’ excellent podcast series Our Daily Bread?

Featured image: Bread flickr photo by adactio shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Replied to a tweet by Ela_HadrunEla_Hadrun (Twitter)

[Raymond] Llull is the first author to use the expression “Immaculate Conception” to designate the Virgin’s exemption from original sin.[19] He appears to have been the first to teach this doctrine publicly at the University of Paris.

–via Wikipedia referencing Mary in the Middle Ages: the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Thought of Medieval Latin Theologians, Fr. Luigi Gambero, S.M., Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2005.

📖 14% done with The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth Lerer

cover of The History of the English Language by Seth Lerer

Listened to Lecture 5 and the first several minutes of 6 today while cooking in the kitchen.

There’s some interesting history about the ideas of law, ligatures, and links. He also has an interesting history of the words ‘apocalypse’ and ‘revelation’ which ultimately mean the same thing. Apocalypse essentially means to ‘take away the cover’. He doesn’t go into it, but this word also has historical relation to the removal of the curtain within the holy of holies, or in the New Testament the rending of said curtain at the death of Jesus. Subsequently there has obviously been a lot of semantic shift to create our modern day meaning of apocalypse.

🎧 LifeWay Christian Closing Brick-And-Mortar Bookstores | NPR

Listened to LifeWay Christian Closing Brick-And-Mortar Bookstores from NPR

LifeWay Christian Stores plans to close all of its locations by end of the year and move all of the company's retailing online. Its bricks-and-mortar division has been losing money since 2013, and the company says it has tried just about everything to keep the business going, including overhauling several stores last summer and experimenting with features like coffee bars.

📑 Fish | Wikipedia

Annotated Fish (Wikipedia)
Early Christians used the ichthys, a symbol of a fish, to represent Jesus, because the Greek word for fish, ΙΧΘΥΣ Ichthys, could be used as an acronym for "Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ" (Iesous Christos, Theou Huios, Soter), meaning "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour".  
A fact that I suspect that few Christians know. I wonder if the “Darwin fish” has a similar acronymization?

Acquired Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve by Tom Bissell

Acquired Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve by Tom Bissell (Faber & Faber (2016))
The story of Twelve Apostles is the story of early Christianity: its competing versions of Jesus’s ministry, its countless schisms, and its ultimate evolution from an obscure Jewish sect to the global faith we know today in all its forms and permutations. In his quest to understand the underpinnings of the world’s largest religion, Tom Bissell embarks on a years-long pilgrimage to the apostles’ supposed tombs, traveling from Jerusalem and Rome to Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, India, and Kyrgyzstan. Along the way, Bissell uncovers the mysterious and often paradoxical lives of these twelve men and how their identities have taken shape over the course of two millennia. Written with empathy and a rare acumen—and often extremely funny—Apostle is an intellectual, spiritual, and personal adventure fit for believers, scholars, and wanderers alike.
Purchased at UCLA Store for $6.99+tax

📺 Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature RLST 152 – Lecture 2 – From Stories to Canon | Open Yale Courses

Watched Lecture 2 From Stories to Canon by Dale B. Martin from RLST 152: Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature

The Christian faith is based upon a canon of texts considered to be holy scripture. How did this canon come to be? Different factors, such as competing schools of doctrine, growing consensus, and the invention of the codex, helped shape the canon of the New Testament. Reasons for inclusion in or exclusion from the canon included apostolic authority, general acceptance, and theological appropriateness for “proto-orthodox” Christianity.

📺 Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature RLST 152 – Lecture 1 – Introduction: Why Study the New Testament? | Open Yale Courses

Watched Lecture 1 Introduction: Why Study the New Testament? by Dale B. Martin from RLST 152: Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature

This course approaches the New Testament not as scripture, or a piece of authoritative holy writing, but as a collection of historical documents. Therefore, students are urged to leave behind their pre-conceived notions of the New Testament and read it as if they had never heard of it before. This involves understanding the historical context of the New Testament and imagining how it might appear to an ancient person.

Some interesting questions about what is in and what isn’t in the Bible here. I love that he does the exercise of what early Christianity meetings would have looked like to a person of that time period.

🔖 The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman

Bookmarked The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman (Oxford University Press; 6 edition)

Featuring vibrant full color throughout, the sixth edition of Bart D. Ehrman's highly successful introduction approaches the New Testament from a consistently historical and comparative perspective, emphasizing the rich diversity of the earliest Christian literature. Distinctive to this study is its unique focus on the historical, literary, and religious milieux of the Greco-Roman world, including early Judaism. As part of its historical orientation, the book also discusses other Christian writings that were roughly contemporary with the New Testament, such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the letters of Ignatius.

Book cover of The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings by Bart D. Ehrman
An interesting looking textbook from Ehrman.

This is a recommended text for Dale Martin’s course Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature.

👓 Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature | Open Yale Courses

Read Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature by Dale B. Martin (oyc.yale.edu)
About the Course

This course provides a historical study of the origins of Christianity by analyzing the literature of the earliest Christian movements in historical context, concentrating on the New Testament. Although theological themes will occupy much of our attention, the course does not attempt a theological appropriation of the New Testament as scripture. Rather, the importance of the New Testament and other early Christian documents as ancient literature and as sources for historical study will be emphasized. A central organizing theme of the course will focus on the differences within early Christianity (-ies).

Course Structure

This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Spring 2009. The Open Yale Courses Series. For more information about Professor Martin’s book New Testament History and Literature, http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300180855 click here.

Ran across this while looking at some podcasts on another topic and it sounds like an interesting overview based on some of my previous readings of Bart Ehrman’s works. It dovetails with the recent book on archaeology and King David I’ve recently started and some conversations I’ve had recently with friends.