This is my first experience with the Modern Scholar Series. Basically these are college lectures packaged as audiobooks. If the rest of the series is the same as this one, then it is literally just a professor recording their lectures, sometimes with a voice over asking a question and the professor answering at the end of the lecture. I am glad I am not in the room while they are recording because I like to ask questions in context. But the audio is good, the organization of the lectures is good. And best of all it was free on Netlibrary.
This course was a history course that looks at the history of early Christianity starting with the culture and history around the time of Jesus’ birth and continues through about 500 AD (approximately the fall of Rome). In grad school I had a class on the History of Christian Thought from 500 to 1500, so I had some background and a rough understanding of the theological disputes, but there was a lot of new information.
Thomas Madden is a history professor at St Louis University. The lectures were pretty orthodox, both in theology and history. He was not trying to break out any radical theory. My guess is that he is probably Roman Catholic, but that is just a guess from the lecture. The earliest lectures I thought were most useful and interesting (they concentrated around Jesus, Paul and the first generation or two Christians). The later lectures spent more time on theological disputes and issues with the Roman Empire. These were also very informative, but I was less interested in the content.
The whole set of lectures was just over 8 hours and most lectures were about 45 minutes. I will likely try out another in the series, especially since several more were free. (It is only $7.49 if you are a member of audible.com.)