Free Courses and Lectures

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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 Bible Study Courses

Click here to view all courses

Yale Bible Study Lectures

Click here to view all lectures


The Book of Genesis: An Online Bible Study

Clicker here to view playlist of videos 

From the magisterial six-day creation through Adam and Eve, the flood, the sacrifice of Isaac, and the Joseph story, Genesis contains many of the most well-known and beloved passages in the whole Bible. Join Dr. Joel Baden in exploring the most popular Yale Bible Study. We’ll examine where these stories come from, how they relate to similar traditions from Israel’s neighboring cultures, and how they have grown over time until reaching the version we have them now. How have our modern interpretations obscured what the texts might have originally meant? This study will provide new perspectives for appreciating some of the Bible’s most famous stories.


Yale Open Course Lectures: Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible)

with Christine Hayes

Click here to view course page

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

Click here to view course page

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

Click here to download from iTunes

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

Click here to download from iTunes

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

Click here to view course page

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

Click here to download from iTunes

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?


Gresham College Course Lectures: Christian Themes in Art

with Lord Richard Harries

Click here to view course page

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

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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:

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Video Lectures by Bart Ehrman

Bart Ehrman’s SMU lecture on this Historical Jesus

Bart Ehrman’s Stanford lecture on his book Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

Bart Ehrman’s Commonwealth lecture on forgery in the Bible

Bart Ehrman’s UC Berkely lecture on Suffering in the Bible

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