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OLLI Lecture Series: Pagans, Jews, Jesus Followers, and the Birth of the West
October 22 at 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm$20
An Archaeological and Literary Overview of the First Five Centuries CE, with Valerie A. Abrahamsen
The roots of Western civilization lie in Greece and the Roman Empire. In this lecture, we will use both literary and archaeological evidence to examine those roots from the perspectives of polytheism, Judaism, and the early Jesus movement. In the first century Before the Common Era (BCE) through the fifth century of the Common Era (CE), a vast amount of literature was produced that allows us to know a great deal about the Empire, its people and its deities. The literature was, in general, however, created by elite men. Professional archaeological excavations throughout the Mediterranean and Europe over the past century help fill in the gaps of those traditional treatments, including the importance of pagan deities and the lives of more “hidden” people such as women, slaves, and children. We will see that some of the extant literature, including the writings of St. Paul and other documents of the first few centuries CE, have been misinterpreted and misused, to the detriment of many. Using photos taken on-site, we will learn about liberating themes that can enhance our current lives in the West, including the involvement and leadership roles of women in paganism, Judaism and early Christianity and the positive contributions of same-sex missionary pairs. A packet of resources will be available to attendees, and there will be time for questions.