Mar 06


Religion in the Ancient Mediterranean World, taught by Glenn Holland ?
This is an audio lecture offered by the Teaching Company. It’s focus is the ancient religions of the Mediterranean basin, including the ancient religions of Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Canaan, Egypt, Greece and Rome, as well as Israel. The entire set is not what I had hoped it to be. I doesn’t give a very good feel for the development and structure of religions outside of the Judeo-Christian realm. Coverage of important texts, like the Gilgamesh epic, leaves much to be desired. Holland offers very little analysis of these non-Israelite religions until the very end of the series, when he offers the pathetic statement of how they all have a unifying notion of our search for the divine. I don’t need to suffer through a 48 lecture course for that conclusion. There is no serious comparison and contrast of the various religions, and typically minimal insight into how these religions and their differences affected the various cultures. There were many religions that Holland mostly glosses over, such as the religions of the Ammonites and Edomites, which have substantial source material to work with. Meanwhile, he is quite ready to offer inane criticisms of the Bible, falling into the confusion of the higher school redaction criticism of the texts. Even here, Holland is not up to date on his facts or critical of his assessments, as I would expect of a university professor. As an example, his disagreement with the dating of Abraham simply shows misguided and uninformed criticism. He seems to be most critical of the Judeo-Christian texts since they are endowed with a certain reverence in the Western world. I don’t expect him to manifest a similar enthusiastic reverence, but I do hold him accountable for providing a critical review free of personal bias and as eager to prove as well as to disprove the veracity of a the sacred texts at hand. It was difficult to endure to the end this series because of the absence of true scholarship.

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