After my last positive experience with a Great Courses audiobook, I picked up several more when they were on sale last month. The first of those that I have listened to is Sacred Texts of the World by Grant Hardy.
As Professor Hardy notes in the opening, this is an introduction. As someone that know a good bit about Christian scriptures, I had some quibbles with his presentation of Christian scriptures. But if I can assume that the rest of the presentations were of roughly similar quality, then I think this was probably fairly accurate.
Part of being educated about the world is being educated about the world’s religions. This is not primarily about evangelism, although I think it is a good idea to know about for evangelism reasons. Primarily this is about understanding additional context to international news.
My overwhelming feeling is how much the ‘Protestant Bias’ has effected the way we think about other world religious scriptures. As Hardy presents it, Protestant Bias comes into play because so many of the early scholars of world religions were Protestants that assumed that other world religious scriptures acted like the Christian bible (and they often do not.)
Many of the other world’s religion’s sacred texts are not primarily about meaning or narrative but the sound or tradition or other purposes. And some of those sacred texts are more about government regulations, or stories or rules than revelation about God. One example is that early interaction with many eastern texts attempted to find eastern equivalents to the creation story and often those just do not exist.
Hardy attempts to present the texts as the followers of those texts would understand them. He is occasionally critical of how the followers read or use their sacred texts, but mostly he gives a presentation that seems positive.
The length of presentations of each is roughly equivalent to size of following. So smaller religions get less time. But in an 18 hour course, there is still time to cover a lot of texts. The final lecture is in an interesting conclusion. He looks at the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Gettysburg Address and I Have a Dream speech as if they were sacred texts to help the listener understand the basic ideas of what sacred texts can mean.
This definitely was dry at points. I set it aside a couple times to listen to other audiobooks before coming back. But overall Sacred Texts of the World was helpful.
Sacred Texts of the World (The Great Courses) by Grant Hardy Purchase Links: Audible.com Audiobook