Great World Religions (Great Courses, #6101) PDF
by Luke Timothy Johnson
Again, here's what happens when I come back a month later to write the review. This is the third one I've listened to (already read and reviewed Islam and Hinduism (and theGod and Mankind lecture) and reviewed them quite differently) and was eager to hear how the professor would structure this particular topic. I found it to be pretty great overall: great address of history and some key time spent on the divisions within the Christian church (especially close to Protestantism and (Roman) Catholicism. I liked and respected this scholar. He also brought up a lot in terms of how Christianity is unique (one of those ways being that Jesus didn't specify or give structure to a way to live, to conduct government or even groups of people). I found it particularly interesting to hear how Catholicism split from the rest of Christianity, and the focus on Rome instead of Constantinople, the former being a central location for Roman Catholics (with Rome's bishop, the Pope, and the Vatican) but otherwise doesn't have religious significance). The transition from a smaller religion to one that had to be so grandiose (thank you, Rome) was fascinating.
I was also interested to hear about the Church of England and the Puritans coming to America and setting up the idea of separation of church and state, because religion and laws and leadership had become so hopefully chaotic in England that hardly anything got done and people were fighting left, right, and center.
What didn't really come up was colonialism, aka the spread of Christianity (mostly Roman Catholicism) across the world, and I wish the scholar had addressed that more. There was limited time, I know, but he did talk about the percentages around the world and how strong Roman Catholicism is in third-world countries. He just didn't really complicate the source of that tradition. I don't think there was too much focus on connections to Judaism or Islam, which I wish I'd heard more about.
Overall, though, an excellent experience.
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