Old Testament and New Testament history

I’d previously posted a link to the wonderful online video lectures from Yale University, in particular the course on “Introduction to the Old Testament” by Christine Hayes. I’m now about half-way through the course on “New Testament History and Literature” by Dale B. Martin. This makes a good companion to the Christine Hayes videos. I’ve posted both videos below for your convenience :)

Do note that a significant time-commitment is required to go through all these videos, but the rewards are many. Go for it!

Introduction to the Old Testament With Christine Hayes:

New Testament History and Literature:

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.

Eugenie C. Scott to retire

Over the years I’ve come across the work done by Eugenie C. Scott and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and I’ve posted some articles on her work. I remember quite clearly when she was awarded the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Science in 2010. Earlier this year, Scott announced that she would retire by the end of the year.

NCSE’s executive director Eugenie C. Scott announced on May 6, 2013, that she was planning to retire by the end of the year, after more than twenty-six years at NCSE’s helm. “It’s a good time to retire, with our new climate change initiative off to a strong start and with the staff energized and excited by the new challenges ahead,” she commented. “The person who replaces me will find a strong staff, a strong set of programs, and a strong board of directors.”

During Scott’s time at NCSE, she was honored with no fewer than eight honorary degrees as well as the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Science, the inaugural Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Public Service Award from the National Science Board, and the Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It’s not going to be easy to fill the shoes of someone who has done so much to make NCSE into the respected and admired organization it is,” remarked Brian Alters, the president of NCSE’s board of directors. “We look forward with working with Genie to find the best possible successor.” A job announcement is now available; members and friends of NCSE are encouraged to spread the word that what Scott once described as “the best job in the world” will soon be open.

Science Insider (May 6, 2013) reported on the announcement, quoting Kenneth R. Miller of Brown University as saying of Scott, “She’s incomparable, irreplaceable, and indispensable,” and Sean B. Carroll of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as saying, “The entire scientific community, legions of teachers, and millions of students owe her a great debt for her dedication and passionate advocacy. She has established a remarkable legacy at NCSE.”

She’s done a good job at the NCSE, and I’d like to thank her for that work there and for her lectures.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2013

Steiner – Waldorf schools, founded on nonsense, superstition and the occult

Further to a recent post on Steiner Waldorf schools, Quackometer has posted a couple of articles on the obfuscation practised by those schools, and the results of the investigations by the BBC et al:

The education of our children should not be left in the hands of those steeped in nonsense, superstition and the occult. There is enough unreason already in this world without more sewage being poured over the impressionable and the vulnerable. The level of indoctrination practised by these schools does not appear to be as overt as those of other religious schools but the nature of the risks needs to be understood.

An extensive resource is here for those wanting to research more:

I, of course, have similar objections to other religious schools but the need to highlight the nature of the Steiner Waldorf schools required prioritising as not everyone is aware what these schools are all about.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012

Steiner-Waldorf Schools

Andy Lewis and his legitimate concerns on the Steiner-Waldorf schools:


Andy also makes reference to the excellent posts by Professor David Colquhoun:

  1. The true nature of Steiner (Waldorf) education. Mystical barmpottery at taxpayers’ expense. Part 1
  2. The Steiner Waldorf cult uses bait and switch to get state funding. Part 2
  3. Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 3. The problem of racism

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012

Pakistan – will you condemn the pro-Taliban?

My thoughts are quite clear on the depravity that is the Taliban:

And now we see Fazlur Rehman, leader of a pro-Taliban group in Pakistan, suggesting that the shooting of Malala Yousafzai was not the result of Taliban action.

Rehman is obviously reacting to the negative response in Pakistan that such an incident has had on the Taliban. What he fails to do is take responsibility for his own support of the Taliban encouraging such barbarity.

The Taliban’s aims are clear; they are evil through and through. Those who turn an blind eye to the Taliban’s actions, and those who refuse to acknowledge the actions of the Taliban, are as much responsible for the Taliban’s evils as the Taliban themselves.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012

The evils of the Taliban fought by education

The abhorrent core of the Taliban, its evil teachings, its inhumane actions are highlighted by the shootings of a 14 year old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai:

Education is key to fighting the barbarity that people such as the Taliban bring. This poster from last year makes the point quite clearly:

The Taliban and their supporters are not friends of humanity. The incident with Malala Yousafzai is not an isolated event; the Taliban have been destroying lives for years. They cannot be allowed to prevail. I do what little I can through this blog to fight nonsense, to fight irrationality and to fight barbarity.

When I was in Afghanistan, I wrote:

It was sad to see this empty space where the [Bamiyan] Buddha statues had stood for 1,500 years. It was the criminal destruction of the Buddha statues by the Taliban in March 2001 that had first brought this region, and the word "Taliban", to my notice. I had felt an anger and a sadness back in 2001; I never did imagine that one day I would be here at Bamiyan. Today, I just felt a terrible sadness. The statues were gone. I can never forgive the Taliban for these actions and for their other crimes against humanity. A backwards people in all regards.

For those who previously supported the Taliban, or for those who turned a blind eye, and who are only now questioning and denouncing what the Taliban have been doing need to look into themselves. They need to reassess what led them to support such an evil group in the first place.

Article by Kulvinder Singh Matharu – 2012