The origin and development of the Old Testament

I love how certain universities make available a number of free resources such as lectures. One resource, in particular, that I’ve really enjoyed has been Yale University’s “Introduction to the Old Testament” by Christine Hayes. There are many hours of video material from this introductory course, and I would recommend that these are augmented through further personal research.

The course description:

This course examines the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) as an expression of the religious life and thought of ancient Israel, and a foundational document of Western civilization. A wide range of methodologies, including source criticism and the historical-critical school, tradition criticism, redaction criticism, and literary and canonical approaches are applied to the study and interpretation of the Bible. Special emphasis is placed on the Bible against the backdrop of its historical and cultural setting in the Ancient Near East.

Fascinating stuff!

According to Wikipedia:

Christine Hayes is the Robert F. and Patricia Ross Weis Professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, and one of the foremost American academics focusing on talmudic-midrashic studies and Classical Judaica. She is also a specialist in the History and Literature of Judaism in Late Antiquity. Before her appointment at Yale, she served as the Assistant Professor of Hebrew Studies, Department of Near Eastern Studies, at Princeton University from 1993 to 1996. She has published several books and numerous articles in American and international academic journals, and has received academic accolades. Her class on the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) was selected for the pilot program of “Yale University Open Courses,”  and has subsequently been one of the most watched online courses about Classical Judaica.

Monks in Myanmar

Novice monks in Pindaya, Shan State, Myanmar (Burma). This place also had the biggest mosquitoes that I’ve ever seen; so big that I didn’t recognise the little blighters until they started biting and, by then, it was far too late to apply any insect repellent! Photo taken in December 2014.

Monks and smoke

Non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA)

It is easily demonstrated that non-overlapping magisteria (NOMA) is an invalid construct; science is the process used to gain an understanding of the world and, as religions claim superstitious phenomena interact with the world, then that phenomena is subject to scientific analysis. The religious deny this, of course, and cling to NOMA. Those particularly fond of NOMA are the so-called accomodationists who want to claim the beauty of science alongside the irrational and the nonsense of religion. Their cognitive dissonance, or delusion, can be highly ingrained. I, therefore, try and link to resources that highlight the nonsense that is NOMA.

Jerry Coyne’s recent article is quite apt:

Also, just for the delight in seeing him perform again, here is a short clip of Christopher Hitchens talking about the incompatibility of religion with reason.

Tower of London poppies

Today at the Tower of London…”Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red“. The moat is filled with ceramic poppies, to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War (the First World War), with each poppy representing the fatality of each British and Commonwealth soldier in that war. tower-hill-2

Coinciding with the school holidays and the unexpectedly glorious weather today, throngs of people visited this commemoration. Busy it certainly was, and most were impressed with this sea of red.

Impressive, yes, but a time of reflection and remembrance was given.