In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I finish (for now) our series on the apocalyptic literature, with a discussion of how views on the afterlife changed in the Second Temple period.
Isaiah's ambiguity has made him a crowd-pleaser for over 2,500 years. He introduces a bunch of shiny-new theological ideas previously unknown in the Bible. Christians read into his book prophecies of the Christ. Micah is his counterpoint.
In 722 BC, Hezekiah of Judah faced his first great crisis: a mass of Israelite refugees fleeing from the Assyrians. He turned adversity into opportunity, strengthening his authority and using the Israelite intellectuals to create a nationalistic religion: Biblical religion. His second crisis was the invasion of Sennacherib of Assyria. The king saved his city, but lost the countryside.
King Ahaz of Judah calls on Assyria to save him from King Pekah of Israel and the kingdom of Aram-Damascus. That works out a treat: Aram-Damascus is left in ruins, and Israel left a rump state. The prophet Isaiah puts his oar in, to no effect. Pekah is followed by his son Hoshea, who makes a bad diplomatic move and is annihilated by Assyria. So begins the Jewish diaspora.
In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I continue our series on the apocalyptic literature, with the second of two episodes on the earliest Christian apocalypse, the Book of Revelation. We find lots of magical numbers.
In Judah, we meet a bunch of kings: Uzziah, Jotham and Ahaz. Uzziah gets leprosy when he offends the priests. Jotham's reign is confused, just like I am. Ahaz is threatened on all sides. Back in Israel, Jeroboam II is followed by Zechariah, then in quick succession by Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, and Pekah. Israel is falling apart. King Retzin of Aram-Damascus hammers the Hebrews, but is squashed by the Assyrians.
Amos and Hosea are the first two prophets who get their own books. They are also the last of the four northern Israelite prophets. Amos is the perfect prophet, the template for all later prophets. He launches a socialist critique on the Israelite upper-classes, and calls on the people to be righteous, and not just rule-followers. Hosea uses uncomfortable crazy sexual imagery to denounce the Israelites' worship of Baal. Hosea is nuts.
In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I continue our series on the apocalyptic literature, with the first of two episodes on the earliest Christian apocalypse, the Book of Revelation. It barely made it into the New Testament.
Under the house of Jehu, the northern kingdom of Israel is assailed by the big bully Assyria and the little bully Aram-Damascus. I follow Jehu's dynasty for 90 years, through the reigns of Jehoahaz and Joash to Jeroboam II. The famous Tel Dan stele has a lot to say about that. The kings of Judah get a big helping hand from the Assyrians in their squabbles against Israel. Meanwhile, in Israel, Athaliah, only queen regnant of a Hebrew kingdom, gets killed by the patriarchy. The priests destroy their own puppet King Jehoash when he stops the gravy train. But his son Amaziah gets his revenge.
Two kings called Jehoram ruled in Israel and Judah at the same time. Many scholars think they were the same person. Their reigns were extinguished by the coup of Jehu, agent of God against the evil house of Omri. One of the few strong women in the Bible, Ahab's widow Jezebel, also meets her end. Athaliah becomes the only woman to rule Judah. Elisha works miracles.
In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I talk about Satan (ha'Satan, the adversary). In the Old Testament he is God's faithful prosecuting attorney. Only in the apocalyptic literature does he transform into the source of all evil. That is the Satan we find in the New Testament.
The Israelite King Ahab and the Judean King Jehoshaphat join in an ill-fated war against the kingdom of Aram-Damascus. One battle not mentioned is the Battle of Qarqar, which we know from Assyrian records. Ahaziah follows Ahab on the throne. We start the second book of Kings. Elijah dies and passes his legacy to Elisha. I discuss Elijah's importance to Jews and Christians.
The House of Omri reigned for 140 years with four kings: Omri, Ahab, Ahaziah and Jehoram. They created the first sophisticated Hebrew state, and brought the kingdom of Israel to the height of its power and prosperity. During this period, the first great prophets, Elijah and Elisha, created the religion of Yahwism. We also meet Ahab's wife Jezebel, the painted lady. Assyria makes an unwelcome appearance.
In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I talk about the obscure Jewish movement known as Merkabah mysticism, and the influential and popular Book of Jubilees.
In the first decades after Solomon's united kingdom split, the two kingdoms spent their time in brush wars. The kingdom of Judah went through three kings: Rehoboam, Abijam (or Abijah), and Asa. In the northern kingdom of Israel, Jeroboam's dynasty came to an end with his son Nadab, overthrown by general Baasha. This was not a happy time.
In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I launch into the earliest apocalypses: 1 Enoch and the Book of Daniel. The Book of 1 Enoch, older than Daniel, hid in plain sight in the Ethiopian Orthodox canon for centuries. Europeans only re-discovered it in the early 19th century.
The policies of King Solomon's idiot son Rehoboam split the united kingdom in two: Israel and Judah. The fracture was permanent. I introduce the Biblical sources we have for this period, Kings and Chronicles and a few prophets; and the Assyrian and Babylonian records. I also introduce the archaeological evidence we have (such as the Moabite stone, the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III, and the Tel Dan stele), and the very difficult chronological problems. What would we know about the Hebrew kingdoms without the Bible? Not much.
In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I introduce the rich apocalyptic literature that flourished after the canon of the Old testament closed. We get into Gnosticism, evil, and dualism.
In this ripper episode I tackle the great raging debate in contemporary biblical archaeology. Traditionalist scholars believe that modern archaeological discoveries confirm the Bible's account of David and Solomon. Modernist archaeologists believe the exact opposite. Who has the evidence on their side?
In this co-released episode, Steve Guerra of the History of the Papacy podcast and I introduce our new series on the apocalypse. We talk about the little-known but rich literature that flourished between the closing of the Old Testament, and the opening of the New Testament; and how it crucially influenced Judaism and Christianity.
Solomon, it is said, wrote books of Wisdom, Psalms, Odes, and a Testament. I discuss these, and then begin my survey of what modern scholarship has to say about the united kingdom. I start with Saul, and wonder why he is treated so differently in the books of Samuel and Chronicles.
Solomon spends big time on his Temple and Palace. Hiram of Tyre bankrolls him. Solomon dies on the verge of a major rebellion led by his own slave-master, Jeroboam. I also discuss the two most important books attributed to Solomon: Proverbs, and the Song of Songs.
David's son Solomon is the first Hebrew king we can assign reliable dates to. Or maybe not. Solomon is a dazzling glitter-ball on the international stage; the richest, wisest, and most awesome king in the entire Middle East. He marries an Egyptian princess. I go through the legends of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, and investigate the role of Solomon's benefactor, King Hiram of the Phoenician city of Tyre.
My special guest is Dan Libenson of the Judaism Unbound podcast. We talk about Israeli author Yochi Brandes' novel The Secret Book of Kings, set in the period of Saul, David, Solomon, and then the divided monarchy. It has been recently translated into English from the Hebrew. The novel was a smash hit in Israel. We discuss the novel and its impact in israel, and how it bears on Dan's quest to forge the next Jewish future.
I finish my survey of the Book of Psalms. The psalms are replete with references to God as but one member of the pantheon of the ancient Canaanite religion, a god fighting the ancient sea monsters of the Canaanites: Rehab, Leviathan, and Behemoth. Boney M. sings psalm 137.