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Early Christianity: The Experience of the Divine cover art

Early Christianity: The Experience of the Divine

Written by: Luke Timothy Johnson,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Luke Timothy Johnson
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Publisher's Summary

After 2,000 years, Christianity is the world's largest religion and continues to prosper and grow. What accounts for its continued popularity?

In these twenty-four lectures, Professor Johnson maintains that the most familiar aspects of Christianity-its myths, institutions, ideas and morality-are only its outer "husk." He takes you on a journey to find the "kernel" of Christianity's appeal: religious experience. You'll travel back to Christianity's origins during its first 300 years to identify the elements that first made it appealing and which still hold the secret to its ability to attract new followers.

Professor Johnson employs scholarly techniques that have only recently been applied to religion. In introducing early Christian religious experience, Professor Johnson looks at questions that are new and intellectually exciting in the study of religion. Was Christ the founder of Christianity? Was Christianity's early growth due to his life and works or to his followers' powerful experience of his death and resurrection, their sense of having been transformed by the Holy Spirit?

By combining such disciplines as history, the social sciences, and comparative literary analysis, you'll look at religious experience and behavior from a fresh perspective. You'll consider a variety of theories developed by the philosophers Alfred North Whitehead and Immanuel Kant, Emil Durkheim, the founder of sociology, and Sigmund Freud. And to better understand religious experience in Christianity, you'll also study it in the two religions with which early Christianity co-existed: Greco-Roman paganism and Judaism.

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses

What listeners say about Early Christianity: The Experience of the Divine

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  • James
  • 07-03-16

Fantastic although it made me Agnostic

I've been struggling with faith for some time and can finally but the matter of Christianity to bed. You can go to any Church and listen to people ranting about God, but ask them anything about what else was going on around 1 AD and you'd think the world was blank. This course cut though so much BS and presented a very neutral view of the growth of the worlds largest religion. Highly recommended for anyone seeking answers.

8 people found this helpful

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  • MRD
  • 04-11-13

Great professor, history of faith articulated

Where does Early Christianity: The Experience of the Divine rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the top "course" books - tough to compare it with fiction or nonfiction

What was one of the most memorable moments of Early Christianity: The Experience of the Divine?

The last chapters did a wonderful job of bringing the course to a peak experience

Have you listened to any of Professor Luke Timothy Johnson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Best

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Tension Between The Institutional And The Charismatic

8 people found this helpful

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  • Noah
  • 12-05-15

fascinating

easy to follow, lecturer is a benedictine so has inside perspective yet purely objective viewpoint. for those interested in sociology of religious experience.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Edward Anderson
  • 11-04-15

Misleading title

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and Luke Timothy Johnson and/or Professor Luke Timothy Johnson?

Probably not

What was most disappointing about The Great Courses and Luke Timothy Johnson ’s story?

I thought the lectures were about early Christianity. Instead there is a lot of background noise about the culture and beliefs of pagan Rome,and how they probably had a great influence on the early Christians.I got through 4 lectures and didn't know any more about early Christianity than before I started.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Professor Luke Timothy Johnson?

Reese Witherspoon.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

A bit more clarity in the title would benefit those interested in paganism.

Any additional comments?

I'll just keep searching.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Audible Customer
  • 13-04-15

Luke Timothy Johnson ruined a good topic

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and Luke Timothy Johnson and/or Professor Luke Timothy Johnson?

Very reluctantly.

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses and Luke Timothy Johnson ? Why or why not?

If free or heavily discounted. Luke Timothy Johnson comes across as a self-absorbed, pompous ass. He may know a lot about the subject, but often I can only hear "blah, blah, blah..."

Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Luke Timothy Johnson?

Preferably not.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

Maybe, if LT Johnson did not narrate.

Any additional comments?

Johnson poisons his own course with poor narration.

2 people found this helpful

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  • MCW68
  • 23-01-23

Provides insight into the Early Church

I feel that I have a better understanding of the Bible and Christian Churches after I listen to Dr. Johnson’s courses on Christianity. Christian churches teach very little about the environment in which the Early Church developed. Christianity grew at a greater rate than any other religion without employing force. Other than the Gospels and Paul’s letters, historians have little information about activities of most disciples. The story of Jesus spread aurally. Despite rapid growth, the Early Church struggled to define itself, and developed structure only as the original generation began dying off,

Dr. Johnson describes some important apocryphal gospels and why they are not accepted by mainstream churches.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-01-23

Slow start, nice overview

This is not the best work from the great courses, but it’s really solid if you’re already listening to a bunch of other courses on the subject. I’ve done that really pagan world and the rise of Christianity and the Roman empire in a bunch of other comparative stuff, as well as the great courses deep dive into gnostics, so this is another piece of the puzzle.

Takes him a long time to get rolling in the reading. It is super clear but he’s a really endearing teacher and I enjoyed the time you spent learning together.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-07-20

informative and informational

very informative information about Jesus easy to follow and understand nicely narrated was a very easy lesson

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  • John
  • 13-10-15

Well organized. Good recording

The series of lectures is well organized. I enjoyed the recording quality and the speaker delivery

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  • lynda
  • 20-05-17

interesting angle

I enjoyed looking at Early Christianity and it's influences from a sociological stand point rather than purely historical.

1 person found this helpful

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  • eleutheria
  • 04-02-23

Really interesting and helpful

Now I'm finished, I want to listen to this all over again to glean more from it, There's so much here, and it has helped me with my own cognitive dissonance about the Christian church. Thank you very much to Luke Timothy Johnson

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  • Tout en chantant
  • 20-06-21

Too androcentric a take for a xxi century historian

Just one example: Mr Johnson repeats this statement several times: ‘ ALL jews were circumcised’
This begs the question : were all Jews male?!
For Mr Johnson Jewish women are so not part of the story that he doesn’t even notice The outrageousness of his claim.
And this mentality percolates all the rest of his telling.

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  • User EAC
  • 20-02-20

An unpleasant surprise!

I did not think that I would live to the day when a Benedictine monk will passionately invite his listeners to close ranks with polytheists. The text is almost unbearable for Christian listeners, the arguments are primitive, in particular those related to archeology, history, and religion. His treatment of religion is a compilation of secular and shallow natural religion dogmas. A very disappointing and dubious example of contemporary theology, notwithstanding the author's high posts in academia. All in all, avoid this book, if you seek genuine interpretation of Christian faith and its history and if you are here to draw an inspiration from the word of Christ.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-12-22

Helpful and uncomfortable

These lectures are not to be missed, but too be undertaken on the basis that much of it is uncomfortable and perhaps doesn’t fit well with us. The lecturer is highly accomplished and informed and makes for a truly worthwhile listing experience.