Thursday, March 05, 2009

Try not to do this yourself.

I may or may not have mentioned previously my ongoing fascination with iTunes U. in this little corner of iTunes is hidden a vast number of really good courses - refreshers on things you took years ago, chances to listen in on courses you didn’t get the chance to take, talks on subjects esoteric and topical.

But around these little gems is a vast array of uninteresting junk, poorly produced or mixed audio files and outright crapola.

In this last category I give you “Old Testament Content and History” from the Concordia Seminary. Groan. I listen to these bits of audio frustration so you can keep your ear canals pristine. Don’t do this one to yourself.

Now, coming in I had a number of  expectations:

  • Analysis of the Old Testament especially teasing out the threads of history from myth
  • Analysis of what it tells us about traditions and influences on Jewish and Christian thought and communities
  • Some reference to archaeology, somewhere along the line.

What I got was:

  • Recitation of a lot of Old Testament lines and characters
  • Assertions of each cited verse, person or incident being historical
  • a lot of waffle about Jesus being the fulfilment of……whatever the fuck he fulfilled. Actually there was more waffle than the table next to the door at an International House of … Waffling Bullshit? I can’t think of anything that works and gives the initialism IHOP.
  • Pretty much no mention of any text or material not in the Bible. There’s a passing mention here and there of legends, but there not illustrative of anything as far as it was treated in the course

I knew there was trouble in the first lecture when the prof, David Peter, referred to the Genesis and Noah stories as overture leading to Abraham - the main history of the in the Old Testament starting around 2000 BC. The command, open your Bibles to Genesis Chapter 1, Verse 1, didn’t fill me with hope and the large dollops of semi-new age babble about God’s intentions and meaning, Jesus fitting in there somewhere sunk me a little further.

From there it devolved mostly into credulous nonsense. Books that scholars have determined are the product of two writers writing in two time periods are hand waved back together because we accept the existence of prophesy so events can be foretold and don’t date a book to after they happened so…blah, blah, blah.

Moses’ authorship is taken as fact due to tradition, which by implication is near supreme in terms of evidential value. Textual analysis of the Old Testament is blown off and hand waved away without any particular explanation.

And so it went never getting any better than that.

A severe disappointment. Try the Historical Jesus course if you’d like to see decent scholarship on biblical topics.

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