Watch Understanding the Old Testament

Add to Watchlist

The Old Testament is one of the foundational documents of Western civilization. In 24 enthralling episodes, Professor Robert D. Miller II of The Catholic University of America guides you through a core selection of the major books of the Old Testament, inviting you to probe their meaning and relevance in incisive and thought-provoking commentary.

Understanding the Old Testament is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (23 episodes). The series first aired on .

Where do I stream Understanding the Old Testament online? Understanding the Old Testament is available for streaming on The Great Courses Signature Collection, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Understanding the Old Testament on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon online.

Ad
i
Watch Episodes

Understanding the Old Testament Full Episode Guide

  • Conclude by examining a recurrent image within the Old Testament: the figure of the dragon as the personification of evil. Look back through the Old Testament at the metaphor of dragon-slaying, at the hands of God, and explore its appearance within earlier mythic traditions. Through multiple references, see how this unusual metaphor constitutes an analogy for human suffering and redemption.

  • Grapple with the fascinating and elusive text of the book of Ecclesiastes. In the apparent bleakness of Qohelet's words, grasp why many through the centuries have found the book depressing. With a careful and rigorous reading, plumb the verses for their deeper meaning: a singular vision of affirmation, reaching beyond the futility of human life to an authentic joy in the gifts of God.

  • Immerse yourself in the book of Job, first identifying its biblical genre and unusual literary structure. Witness God's wager with the accuser, who questions Job's faith, and see the unfolding of the guiltless Job's ensuing tribulations and reckoning with God. Contemplate the many historical explanations of God's actions, and what the narrative suggests about divine providence and human value.

  • Discover the Old Testament genre of "wisdom literature" and the varieties of knowledge it encompasses. In the first nine sections of Proverbs, study the use of paired metaphors that guide the reader's understanding. Examine the use of personification in Proverbs to express wisdom: as referred to as a woman, as present with God at creation, and as equivalent to the nature of the universe.

  • In a second look at Psalms, investigate the primary psalm genres (hymns, thanksgivings, and laments) taking account, in each, of who is speaking within a given Psalm and with what intent. Also delve into lesser genres, such as wisdom psalms, pilgrimage songs, and penitential psalms. Discover how psalms are structured, and how these beloved prayers express the gamut of human emotions.

  • Uncover the musical nature of the book of Psalms, which were prayers that were originally sung, and how the Psalms embody the words of humans to God. Study the poetic features of the Psalms, highlighting parallelism (correspondence of lines). Learn about the titles of the individual Psalms and what they tell us, and how the Psalms fall into five sections or "books."

  • Within the life and preaching of the prophet Jeremiah, study the book of Jeremiah, Chapter 7, regarding his "temple sermon" preaching against idolatry, injustice, and fraudulent worship. Witness the prophet's response to his later persecution, and his struggle against his own call to be a prophet. Also read the hopeful prophecy in which God offers a new covenant to Israel.

  • Examine the three distinct sections of Isaiah: first, the prophet's stern denunciation of social injustice, and his intimation of a new era of peace under a messianic king; next, a promise of restoration and redemption for Israel, through the figure of the "Suffering Servant"; and finally, the vision of a post-exile Jerusalem, where all peoples are included within the worship of God.

  • Discover the genre of the biblical short story: Old Testament books that recount single plots, often focusing on displaced women. Learn the story of Ruth, of the land of Moab - Israel's hated enemy, who survived in Bethlehem through loyalty and resourcefulness. Also, encounter the Jewish, Persian Queen Esther, who saved her people by honoring her Jewishness while being queen of a gentile society.

  • Chart the origins of prophecy in ancient Israel, with prophecy seen during ecstatic, trancelike spiritual practices. Observe how Samuel, the last judge, initiated monarchy among the Israelites, appointing Saul as king. Trace the disastrous reign of David, and the story of Bathsheba. Then meet the wise Solomon, builder of the first temple to Israel's God.

  • Take account of the context of Judges, within the Old Testament books that reveal the story of the Israelites in the Promised Land. Assess different accounts of how the Israelites came to the land of Canaan. Then witness the violent cycle in which they fell into idolatrous behavior, then wound up in enslavement, followed by God sending them a series of charismatic leaders ("judges") to free them.

  • The book of Leviticus sets out the ways Israelites were to live as God's people. Delve into three sections of the text, beginning with sacrificial practices. Examine five types of ritual sacrifice and the motives or purposes of each. Investigate the Manual of Impurities, which includes dietary rules on the purity of food. Then learn about the Day of Atonement, the holiest day of the year.

  • In a deep look at the figure of Abraham, the spiritual father of three major religions, examine the features of the Covenant made between God and Abraham as Abraham embarks on his legendary journey. Study the three promises God makes, and what God asks of Abraham. Learn about the paradox embodied in God's command that Abraham sacrifice his son, and what this signifies about the nature of faith.

  • Look at the creation of humanity according to Genesis Chapter 1, and in particular, at how we interpret the idea that humans were made in the image and likeness of God. Then learn about the unique seventh day (the Sabbath) and how the Sabbath was also a day of creation. Investigate the question of the authorship of the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch or Torah.