RTT Quarterly April-June 2024: Ancient/Biblical Times

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RTT Quarterly April-June 2024: Ancient/Biblical Times

Editado: Mar 14, 12:39 am

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During the second quarter we will be reading books that were written or take place in the Ancient/Biblical era. As in most older time periods, there is often debate about the actual dates. This issue can not be addressed, as different historians, countries, and even religions define the periods differently. Unofficially, Biblical/Ancient times begin when people learned to write and settled in cities (about 1200 BCE) and ended with the beginning of the Medieval Ages (around 500 CE). However, you choose your definition and book according to your dates!

Some ancient/Biblical Civilizations:
Greek, Rome, Egypt
Celtic Britain
Japan, China
Middle East (Mesopotamia, Persia, Hittites,)

Some books members have read previously for this prompt:

The Secret Chord Geraldine Brooks
Ancient Evenings by Norman Mailer
I, Claudius by Robert Graves
A Day of Fire by E. Knight
Romans, Celts, and Germans by Maureen Carroll
Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles
Torn from Troy by Patrick Bowman
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Eagles at War by Ben Cane
The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood
The Murder of Tutankhamen by Bob Brier
Sarai by Jill Eileen Smith
A Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar
Mary, Called Magdalene by Margaret George
Brothers by Angela Hunt
I, Judas by Taylor Caldwell
Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George
Ben Hur by Lew Wallace
The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas
Helen of Troy by Margaret George
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough
Medicus: A Novel of the Roman Empire (Gaius Petreius Ruso) by Ruth Downie
The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

Please make suggestions and let us know what you will be reading. As always, both fiction and non-fiction will work.

Mar 15, 12:11 pm

This quarter is the most busy of the year for me at work, so I need some rather light reading and am planning on The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis and Death Comes As The End by Agatha Christie.

Mar 16, 8:17 pm

I have The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus on my shelf for years. I think I will attempt this for starters.

Mar 17, 3:00 am

NRSV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible by Zondervan publishers. I think they also publish an NIV version, but NIV is more an "easy read" translation and isn't as academically accurate. Unfortunately, Zondervan is strictly Protestant canon and doesn't include the Roman, Greek, and Slavonic deuterocanons, but I have these in the NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha. I've been thinking of doing a cover-to-cover of the Bible, I've read the full Roman-Greek-Slavonic (but not Ethiopic, though I do have a copy of the Book of Enoch) deuterocanons, and Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible has superb illustrations and color plates. Not a project I'll complete in three months, but I can get a good start.

There are also some commentaries on the Psalms I'd like to read – C.S. Lewis's and Dietrich Bonhoeffer's as well as a reread of Mary Ellen Chase's – after I get through a complete read-through of Psalms in Zondervan.

I've already read a little of (just the Gospel of Thomas and the fragmentary Gospel of Mary Magdala) and want to finish The Gnostic Gospels of Jesus: The Definitive Collection of Mystical Gospels and Secret Books about Jesus of Nazareth edited by Marvin Meyer. It really isn't "definitive" (for example, it doesn't include the Gospel of Judas, but I may have Reading Judas by Elaine Pagels and Karen Armstrong around the house somewhere).

For those who have never read the Mahabharata, tnere's a magnificent blank-verse adaptation in English by Carole Satyamurti, Mahabharata: A Modern Retelling, that "only" runs about 900 or so pages. (My prose translation by Bibek Debroy runs to 10 paperback volumes.) One of these lifetimes I'd like to get to the full Debroy translation and also do a reread of Satyamurti.

I might also do a read of the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is. I've read the Gita in various editions (including a Norton Critical with its supplementary materials), but the Bhagavad-Gita As It Is is the text favored by in International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

And I could try getting to the Upanisads (Oxford World's Classics). I started on the version by Eknath Easwaran years ago but lost interest when I discovered that it was actually a very loosely (though prettily) translated abridgment. And I have the Rig Vega in the 19th century translation by Ralph T.H. Griffith.

I much prefer the Mahabharata story over Ramayana, which I've read in the terrible abridgment by R.K. Narayan and the interesting (for its color-illustrations) abridgment by Krishna Dharma. I also have around somewhere the Illustrated Ramayana: The Timeless Epic of Duty, Love, and Redemption (Bibek Debroy) and I might give that abridged version a read-through.

There are quite a number of good videos available on the Great Courses (I have a Wondrium subscription) of Greek, Roman, and other mythologies as well as Jewish and Christian antiquity. I've already watched most of the interesting ones on Asian religion and philosophy.

Mar 17, 3:04 am

>3 Tess_W: I really liked that one by Atwood in the Canongate Myth Series. (I didn't all that much care for Jeanette Winterson's Canongate Weight on the Atlas myth.)

Editado: Mar 17, 8:21 am

I've now had time to go through what I have, and in addition to >3 Tess_W:, these are possibilities:
The Secret History by Procopius this is like a tell all right before the fall of the Byzantine empire. on shelf

I have the first four Masters of Rome books by Colleen McCullough that I've wanted to read forever..on virtual shelf

Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland on virtual shelf

Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, Second Edition by Martha Roth, a "left-over" supplementary text from a class I took, never read on shelf

Hymns, Prayers and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric Poetry by John Foster ditto above on shelf

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton on virtual shelf

Count Belisarius by Robert Graves (6th century Byzantine) on virtual shelf

Oedipus Trilogy by Sophocles. I have read before, but would not mind a re-read. on shelf

***Oh look, the "new and shiny!" I would love to read The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks. Mind you, I don't have it........

Mar 17, 11:21 pm

I'm going to start off with reading the next couple/few of books in the Marcus Didius Falco series (by Lindsey Davis) which take place during the reign of Vespasian (69-79 CE):

3. Venus in Copper
4. The Iron Hand of Mars
5. Poseidon's Gold
6. Last Act in Palmyra

We'll see how far I get...

I have an odd assortment of both fiction and non-fiction titles spanning Sumer/Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt and Biblical Times but I think I'll hew to Ancient Rome this time round.

Editado: Mar 18, 3:40 am

Another one I just thought of that I've had sitting around for ages: Thomas Mann's Joseph and His Brothers (H.T. Lowe-Porter translation, entire quartet in a single volume so it also qualifies for the Big Fat Book Challenge).

Abr 3, 3:35 pm

I’ve found a lot on my shelves to fit this time period and have picked two books that have been there quite awhile: The Birth of Classical Europe: A History from Troy to Augustine by Simon Price and Peter Thonemann and The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology by Joseph Campbell. These books complement each other well and I’m hoping to read them along at the same time….we’ll see. And one new book, the audio version of The Iliad in Emily Wilson’s translation—this has surprised me by being a real “page turner” on audio. An ambitious plan, but should make a great quarter of reading!

Abr 5, 3:34 am

>9 dianelouise100: That's some heavy reading! I look forward to your reviews!

Abr 5, 8:24 am

I read The Secret History by Procopius This was a tell-all by Procopius, who served as the official scribe and historian for Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora. (6th century) Procopius wrote what historians consider a respectable if not propagandistic war history of Justinian's reign. The publication of this book did not happen until after his death. One could only imagine the horrors this author would have been subjected to if he were alive when published. Is it true? Probably some of it; though to what degree or percentage one will never know. Most scandalous was the sexual appetite of Theodora. Evidently one of her favorite sexual escapades was sprinkling her genitals with grain and allowing geese and ducks to peck off the grains. ???? We do know that Procopius' numbers were incorrect as he uses the number 1 trillion to describe the number of people that Justinian slew. That was more than the total world population at that time, especially since part of these years were plague years. Favorite "new" word--rapine (violent seizure of someone's property). 3 stars 205 pages RTT: Biblical/Ancient

43. Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor by Martha Roth This was a compilation of various laws that have been translated. There was no commentary and it was very dry. I recognized a lot of similarity between the Biblical Book of Deuteronomy and some of the Assyrian or Hittite laws. As Israel had fought wars with both, it is to be expected that certain customs would be transferred and adopted. Probably the most famous translation contained within is the Code of Hammurabi. I felt like I was reading a lists of things, no real story here, strictly the laws. The law about lending/borrowing an ox was very lengthy! 304 pages 3 stars RTT: Biblical/Ancient

Abr 5, 3:56 pm

I tried reading this for the last quarter but ended up not finishing it, but i think its an interesting book and would fit here pirkei avot: a social justice commentary The pirkei avot is the sayings of the fathers in the talmud thats rather the background of the ancient Judaism. Whats fascinating about this translation is that the rabbi (who is local) puts many of these difficult ( ie not pc sayings) into a more releventmodern light.

Abr 8, 1:21 am

I just finished watching Jodi Magness, The Holy Land Revealed 5***** in a Great Courses video – 36 roughly half-hour sessions, 18 hours. Really excellent, and I do want to get to her other video in the Great Courses, Jesus and His Jewish Influences. She's an archaeologist by training and by inclination, although her actual academic appointment is as Professor of Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Although I do want to get on to her other Great Courses video, I think my next Great Courses view (also for this quarter's time period) is going to be of The Mysterious Etruscans (24 segments for twelve hours).

Most of these Great Courses videos are really top notch (though I've had two or three that were clunkers). They're really only affordable, though, if you snag one on streaming as well as with a DVD and at a really sharp discount, say in the $30 range or so, or if you subscribe at $150 a year for unlimited viewing by streaming but without DVD. An annual subscription is a really good deal but only if you watch these courses regularly.

Looking at my Great Courses "Dashboard," I see that I've "watched more content than 85% of active members" over the past twelve months and "more content than 91% of active members" over the past month, which makes it a really good deal for me. Thing is, though, I need to nebulize twice daily for COPD, roughly 20-30 minutes one time and 30 minutes or more another time. Since I like to nebulize sitting up (the medicine cup shouldn't be at a tilt like it would be if you're lying down), I've started nebulizing while sitting at my desktop computer watching Great Courses videos, so I can take in three or four full-length courses in a month.

If you don't have the occasion and the incentive to watch those videos as frequently as I do, a subscription might be kind of pricey. For myself, though, I can find at least one Great Courses video (and generally a whole lot more) for every time period in our multi-year sequence.


NOTE: I posted The Holy Land Revealed to the Wiki and did some initial set-up for this second quarter, but I didn't monkey around too much with things because I was afraid of messing things up. Tess, could you take a look at things and follow up on what I did? Tnanks!

Abr 9, 9:00 am

>13 CurrerBell: You did fine! Thank you!