This page is devoted to sharing free academic lectures on the Bible and biblical religion, gathered from colleges and universities around the web. Lectures may include downloadable course materials such as handouts, quizzes, and transcripts.
Yale course lectures: Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)
with Christine Hayes
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.
Yale Course Lectures: New Testament History and Literature
with Dale B. Martin
This course provides a historical study of the origins of Christianity by analyzing the literature of the earliest Christian movements in historical context, concentrating on the New Testament. Although theological themes will occupy much of our attention, the course does not attempt a theological appropriation of the New Testament as scripture. Rather, the importance of the New Testament and other early Christian documents as ancient literature and as sources for historical study will be emphasized. A central organizing theme of the course will focus on the differences within early Christianity (-ies).
MSU Course Lectures: Introduction to Religion
with Micky Pulleyking
This course investigates what religion is and does, compares culturally diverse religious ideas and practices. This course explores how religion influences the relationship between individual and community by examining religious ethical systems, and providing community engagement opportunities.
UCLA Course Lectures: Jerusalem: The Holy City: A History of Jerusalem from Ancient Canaan to Modern Israel
with Robert R. Cargill
This course surveys the religious, political, and cultural history of Jerusalem over three millennia as a symbolic focus of three faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The course content will focus on the transformation of sacred space as reflected by literary and archaeological evidence by examining the testimony of artifacts, architecture, and iconography in relation to the written word. We will study the creation of mythic Jerusalem through event and experience. Course requirements will focus on developing advanced writing skills.
Stanford Course Lectures: Historical Jesus
This is a course about history, not about faith or theology. It will examine the best available literary and historical evidence about Jesus and his times and will discuss methodologies for interpreting that evidence, in order to help participants make their own judgments and draw their own conclusions. Presented by the Stanford Continuing Studies Program.
NYU Course Lectures: Ancient Israel
with Daniel Fleming
You may think you know ancient Israel quite well, or you may be sure you know nothing. In either case, this course is designed to make the acquaintance from scratch. My ancient Israel is strange, sometimes shocking, diverse, and mostly hidden. It can be approached from archaeology and non-biblical writing as well as from the Bible as its most famous artifact. I am a biblical scholar and student of ancient literature, so this class will lean toward what is written, embracing the Bible as a source. In a broadly chronological framework, we will ask what I hope to be unfamiliar questions, trying to get you to see things you had not considered before. The course assumes no prior knowledge, and all knowledge is built from the ground up based on “primary evidence,” the actual material from the ancient world – including the Bible. Every full-class meeting will involve conversation in response to some piece of primary evidence, with expectation that students have as much right as any scholar to figure out who these people are for themselves.
Harvard Course Lectures: The Hebrew Scriptures in Judaism and Christianity
with Shaye Cohen
In 70CE the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Second Temple Judaism, whose worship consisted of animal sacrifice permitted by biblical command only at the Temple, would have to reinvent itself as Rabbinic Judaism. Contemporaneously, the authors of the New Testament Gospels were writing about the Jewish apocalyptic prophet whom they believed was the awaited messiah. For both the rabbis and the gospel writers, for both ancient Jews and ancient Christians, the central authoritative text was the Torah and the other books we now call the Hebrew Scriptures. This course surveys how the interpretation (and reinterpretation) of these books spawned two rival cultural systems, Judaism and Christianity. The issues addressed are: 1) What are the truth claims of Judaism and Christianity? 2) In the first centuries of our era, how did Jewish biblical interpretation differ from Christian? 3) What differences resulted in “the parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity? 4) How does each culture deal with the biblical passages concerning: circumcision, the food laws, the Sabbath, Passover, the manifestations of the deity (e.g., Logos), the messiah, atonement/redemption, and the concept of Israel as the chosen of God?
University of Notre Dame Course Lectures: Jews and Christians Throughout History
with Michael A. Signer, Rabbi
This course will explore a number of issues which emerge from the history of Christian theology: How did a negative image of Judaism develop within Christianity? In what ways did these unfavorable teachings contribute toward violence against the Jews over the centuries? What is the relationship between Christian anti-Jewish teachings and Anti-Semitism? Is there any corresponding Jewish hostility towards Christians? In what ways have Jewish authors reacted to developments within the Christian traditionIn the final days of the II Vatican Council the publication of Nostra Aetate (Declaration on non-Christian Religions) reversed a negative attitude of the Catholic Church toward Judaism and the Jewish people as well as toward Muslims and Hindus. This remarkable change promoted “dialogue” with Jews, and positive changes in the ways in which Judaism was presented in Liturgy and Catechesis. Reactions from the Jewish communities were diverse: from rejection to welcoming. Subsequent documents produced by the Vatican as well as Bishops’ Conferences have brought more Jews into dialogue with the Catholic Church. This course will explore a number of issues which emerge from the history of Christian theology: How did a negative image of Judaism develop within Christianity? In what ways did these unfavorable teachings contribute toward violence against the Jews over the centuries? What is the relationship between Christian anti-Jewish teachings and Anti-Semitism? Is there any corresponding Jewish hostility towards Christians? In what ways have Jewish authors reacted to developments within the Christian tradition? As we survey the past, we shall also want to explore the possibilities of a more constructive theological relationship between the two communities for the future. How can Jews and Christians develop religious responses to modernity? In what senses can a study of Judaism by Christians, or Christianity by Jews, help either community to understand itself better? How can Christians and Jews develop a theology of “the other” which is not triumphalist, but empathetic and based on love and justice?
Gresham College Course Lectures: Christian Themes in Art
with Lord Richard Harries
The earliest surviving Christian art is in the catacombs in Rome. This lecture will look at how this developed, survived two centuries of iconoclasm and established itself with a distinctive rationale. This is a part of the 2010/2011 series of Divinity lectures by Lord Harries.
The Great Courses Lectures
Many people suggest the free lectures found on iTunes U. However, I much prefer the scholarly lectures offered by The Great Courses, taught by some of the best professors in their respective field. They are longer and offer much more academic quality. That said, you should never purchase them directly from the website as they are very expensive. Instead, download them directly from Audible for a huge fraction of the price. You can even download one for free by starting a free trial, with the option of canceling any time.
I highly recommend the following: