The History and Archaeology of the Bible

Watch The History and Archaeology of the Bible

  • 2021
  • 1 Season

The History and Archaeology of the Bible from The Great Courses Signature Collection is a fascinating exploration of the origins, development, and historical context of the Bible. Hosted by renowned scholar and author Jean-Pierre Isbouts, this 36-lecture course offers viewers an in-depth look at the history and archaeology behind the world's most famous book.

Over the course of 18 hours, Isbouts guides viewers through the most important events, people, and places of the Bible, providing historical and cultural context for the stories and teachings contained within its pages. Using a variety of sources and evidence, from the latest archaeological discoveries to ancient texts and artifacts, Isbouts brings the stories of the Bible to life in an entirely new way.

The course is divided into six major sections, each focusing on a different era or aspect of the Bible's history. The first section, "Introduction to the Bible," provides an overview of the book's structure, content, and influence on Western culture. From there, viewers dive into the world of the Hebrew Bible, exploring its creation myths, laws, and historical narratives. Along the way, Isbouts explains how the Bible was compiled and translated over the centuries, and how it came to be canonized as the definitive text of Christianity.

The course then moves on to the New Testament, examining the life of Jesus and the early Christian church. Isbouts provides a detailed analysis of the Gospels, and explores the historical and social context in which they were written. He also discusses the development of Christian doctrine, and the role of the church in shaping the course of Western history.

Other sections of the course delve into specific topics, such as the Bible and archaeology, the representation of women in the Bible, and the influence of the Bible on art and literature. Isbouts presents a wealth of new information and insights on each of these topics, drawing on his deep knowledge of history, religion, and culture.

Throughout the course, Isbouts maintains a lively and engaging style, using vivid storytelling and visual aids to bring the material to life. He also makes frequent use of primary sources, including ancient maps, manuscripts, and artwork, to provide viewers with a firsthand glimpse into the world of the Bible.

Overall, The History and Archaeology of the Bible is an essential viewing for anyone interested in the history and culture of Western civilization. With its insightful analysis, captivating storytelling, and expert presentation, this course is sure to deepen viewers' understanding of the Bible and its enduring significance.

The History and Archaeology of the Bible is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on January 1, 2021.

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The Rise of Christianity
24. The Rise of Christianity
January 1, 2021
Observe the process through which the Christian movement gathered force in the decades following Jesus's death. Learn how Paul undertook three missionary journeys across the Mediterranean world, finding particular receptiveness among Gentiles. Note how Christianity's message of universal redemption resonated with many in the Roman world, ultimately becoming the sole religion of the Empire.
The Passover Events in Jerusalem
23. The Passover Events in Jerusalem
January 1, 2021
Explore the highly charged events of Jesus's arrival in Jerusalem. Grasp why Jesus reacted with anger to the presence of moneychangers in the Temple, and why his actions led the Temple's high priest to seek his death. Visit the palace likely to be the place where Jesus was tried by Pontius Pilate, and follow the highly unusual sequence leading to Jesus's Condemnation to Crucifixion.
The Ministry of Jesus
22. The Ministry of Jesus
January 1, 2021
Study three phases of Jesus's ministry, as he cast a wider and wider net with his message. Take account of Jesus's role as a healer, and of his central vision of the Kingdom of Heaven as social change. See how his ministry responded to the humanitarian crisis of brutal taxation and dispossession of the Judeans, and how, in its final phase, he determined to take his message to Jerusalem.
Jesus and John the Baptist
21. Jesus and John the Baptist
January 1, 2021
Take the measure of the dissident figure of John the Baptist, who preached in the wake of repression and violence against the Judeans by the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. Learn about John's role as an apocalyptic prophet, and grasp Jesus's motives in seeking John and being baptized by him. See how John came into conflict with the Roman authorities, leading to his death at the behest of Salome.
Young Jesus
20. Young Jesus
January 1, 2021
In a departure from traditional assumptions about Jesus's youth, examine evidence suggesting that Joseph and Jesus were actually farmers. Learn of the strife and violence that consumed Galilee at this time, surrounding bloody peasant revolts against Rome, events that would undoubtedly have impacted Jesus's family. Also consider where Jesus may have learned the Torah and become a rabbi.
The Birth of Jesus
19. The Birth of Jesus
January 1, 2021
Consider how both prophesy and miraculous signs figured in the birth of Jesus, and why it was essential that Jesus be born in Bethlehem. Grasp the tensions within the story related to Mary's immaculate conception. Note how Matthew and Luke explained the journey to Bethlehem, and the ways in which their Gospels serve to frame Jesus's birth with a divine purpose.
The World of the Gospels
18. The World of the Gospels
July 22, 2021
Learn how accounts of Jesus's life spread through oral tradition following his death, forming source material for the Gospels along with early Christian writings. Examine the question of who wrote the Gospels, and how they originated in Christian communities that sought scripture and liturgy for their worship. Note the key differences between the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John.
The Kingdom of Herod the Great
17. The Kingdom of Herod the Great
January 1, 2021
Track the events through which Herod became the Roman ruler of Galilee following the assassination of Julius Caesar. Note how Herod secured his kingdom, and visit key sites from the period, including Scythopolis and Herod's great city of Sebaste. Take account of how Herod ruled, forestalling rebellion by offering employment, repressing dissent, and expanding the Second Temple.
Judea in the Early Roman Empire
16. Judea in the Early Roman Empire
January 1, 2021
Rome played a pivotal role in the development of both Judaism and Christianity. Study Rome's social and political structure, and witness its rapid ascent to become a major empire, a time when Judean society became fragmented into the factions of the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. Follow the resulting tensions within Judea, and how the kingdom eventually fell to the Romans.
The Empire of Alexander the Great
15. The Empire of Alexander the Great
January 1, 2021
The two biblical books of the Maccabees recount the Greek period in Judea (Judah). Trace the process by which the vast influence of Greek culture, called Hellenism, reached Judea. In the wake of Alexander's short-lived empire, learn how the Judeans came under the rule of the Egyptian Ptolemies, an era which led to the creation of synagogues and the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek.
The Persian Era
14. The Persian Era
January 1, 2021
During their Babylonian exile, learn how the Israelites became a distinct community in religious terms. Then follow the rise of the Persian Empire under Cyrus the Great. Grasp the singular character of Cyrus's rule, as he built fair trade and raised the quality of life for all within his realm, allowing full religious freedom for subjected peoples and restoring their religious shrines.
The Rise and Fall of Judah
13. The Rise and Fall of Judah
January 1, 2021
Now delve into the history of the second Hebrew nation, Judah. Track the expansion of Judah under its early kings, and note how Judah and Babylon suffered as vassals of the Assyrians. Examine the historical record of their ill-fated rebellion against Assyrian rule. Then witness how Judah again challenged the Assyrians, whose successors, the Babylonians, dealt a death blow to the kingdom.
The Rise of Assyria
12. The Rise of Assyria
January 1, 2021
In the 9th century BCE, Assyria emerged as a near-invincible military power. Trace the motives behind their major wars of conquest, and view the majestic bas-reliefs that recount the empire's triumphs. See how new military technology drove their conquests, and how the empire continued to expand, forcing mass deportations of the peoples held in captivity.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel
11. The Northern Kingdom of Israel
January 1, 2021
After Solomon's reign, grasp how the kingdom of Israel divided into a Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Observe how the Northern Kingdom became dominant under the powerful King Omri, creator of the capital of Samaria, excavated in the early 20th century. Learn of the divisive rule and tragic fate of Omri's son, Ahab, and how the kingdom fell to aggression by the Assyrian Empire.
The Temple of Solomon
10. The Temple of Solomon
January 1, 2021
Follow the arc of Solomon's life, as he reorganizes his kingdom and develops trade, making the kingdom wealthy and powerful. Examine archaeological finds that may be traceable to Solomon's reign. Then learn about the design and building of Solomon's magnificent Temple, based in the architectural form of a Greek "megaron." Witness the fortunes of the temple and the trials of Solomon's rule.
The Kingdom of David
9. The Kingdom of David
January 1, 2021
Explore the momentous period of David's kingship, beginning with his selection of Jerusalem as the Israelite capital, and examine excavation evidence at ancient sites that relate to the story. Chart the dramatic events within the house of David: the story of David and Bathsheba, the tragedy of Absalom, and the struggle over succession that led to the anointing of David's son Solomon as king.
The Rise of the Israelite Monarchy
8. The Rise of the Israelite Monarchy
January 1, 2021
This episode traces the transformation of the Israelite tribes into the beginnings of a nation. Study how the tribes spread across Canaan, where they suffered constant threats from armed enemies, as archaeology shows. See how the tribes coalesced around a supreme commander, making Saul the first Israelite king. Follow the rise of David as a military hero and ultimately successor to Saul.
The Settlement in the Promised Land
7. The Settlement in the Promised Land
January 1, 2021
In the Book of Joshua, learn how Joshua succeeded Moses as a military commander, and note what archaeological evidence tells us about the heroic saga of Joshua's conquests. Then witness the rise of the Philistines as a military force and their aggression against both the Egyptians and the Canaanites. Study evidence that the Israelites settled in the highlands of Canaan during these conflicts.
The Mystery of the Exodus
6. The Mystery of the Exodus
January 1, 2021
Grasp how the biblical story of the turning of the Nile to blood and the plagues of flies, locusts, and hailstorms brought by God may have been inspired by actual events within Egypt's ecosystem. Then follow the exact route of the Exodus, and study historical perspectives on Moses's parting of the waters, the rain of bread from heaven, and other key features of the journey.
The Story of Moses
5. The Story of Moses
January 1, 2021
Examine parallels between the history of ancient Egypt and the book of Exodus. Observe historical evidence that the Hebrews living in Egypt were forced into slave labor for the Pharaoh. See how the biblical story of Moses correlates with earlier legends and Theban history, and how the event of the Burning Bush is connected with a physical location and the life of the prophet Muhammad.
Joseph in Egypt
4. Joseph in Egypt
January 1, 2021
Uncover archaeological traces of Abraham's descendants, beginning with the tragic events surrounding Dinah, daughter of Jacob, and how their clan was forced to leave Canaan. Learn the extraordinary story of Joseph's bondage in Egypt, and his eventual reversal of fortune. See what the historical context tells us about the plausibility of Joseph's rise to become the grand vizier to the Pharaoh.
The Journeys of Abraham
3. The Journeys of Abraham
January 1, 2021
Trace the life of Abraham, the iconic father of three faiths, from his origins in the Mesopotamian city of Ur. Witness how Abraham followed the call of God in traveling to Canaan (Palestine) to found a new nation. Take account of historical evidence related to the events of Abraham's journey, and follow the narrative of Abraham's search for an heir to his clan and to God's covenant.
The Tower of Babel
2. The Tower of Babel
January 1, 2021
Explore the symbolism of the tower and pyramid in ancient architecture, beginning with the famous Egyptian step pyramid at Saqqara. Learn about the Mesopotamian ziggurat, a tower-like structure composed of receding platforms, and its role in religious life and ritual. Discover parallels between the building of ziggurats and the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis.
The World of Genesis
1. The World of Genesis
January 1, 2021
Consider the nature and scope of biblical archaeology, as it explores the intersection between biblical tradition and the historical record. Observe how the book of Genesis uses the legends of earlier faith traditions to make its case for the existence of a single God. Note archaeological evidence for a great flood and its possible connection to the story of Noah. #Music, Philosophy & Religion
Where to Watch The History and Archaeology of the Bible
The History and Archaeology of the Bible is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The History and Archaeology of the Bible on demand at Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime, Amazon and Kanopy.
  • Premiere Date
    January 1, 2021