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My Notes on Massive Open Online Course:
Letters of the Apostle Paul
The letters of Paul are the earliest texts in the Christian scriptures, written by a Jew at a time when the word “Christian” hadn’t yet been coined. What is the religious and political context into which they emerged? How were they first interpreted? How and why do they make such an enormous impact in Christian communities and in politics today?
Notes on 14 Lectures I Watched in This Course:
Paul's Letters: Authorship and Audience
Form and Physicality of Ancient Letter Writing
Paul's Letter Writing Within the Tradition of Ancient Rhetoric
Ancient Responses to the Letters of Paul
How Ancient People Wrote about Their Place in History: Polybius and Daniel
Four Stories of Empire in Judea: Babylonian, Macedonian, Seleucid, and Roman
The Roman Empire's Knowledge of Early Christian Communities
Josephus on the Definition of Jew and Christian in the Ancient World
Understanding the Historical Josephus
The Priene Inscription
Intertwining of Religion and Politics in the Roman Empire
Letters to the Corinthians
Slavery and Freedom in Roman Corinth
Slavery in First Corinthians
9 People I Have Learned About in this Course:
Antiochus IV (215-164 BC)
Greek king of the Seleucid Empire (312-63BC, Iran/Levant/Turkey)
  • near-conquest of Egypt
  • had been a political hostage of the Roman Republic
Herod the Great (74-4 BC)
Known for his colossal building projects throughout Judea, including his expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem
  • Roman client king of Judea, has been described as "a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis",
  • "the evil genius of the Judean nation"
  • "prepared to commit any crime in order to gratify his unbounded ambition"
  • "the greatest builder in Jewish history"
  • the Second Temple in Jerusalem was known as "Herod's Temple"
Seleucus (358-281 BC)
Infantry general under Alexander the Great, was appointed Satrap of Babylon
  • from 312 BC, he ruthlessly expanded his dominions and eventually conquered the Persian and Median lands
  • he not only ruled Babylonia, but the entire enormous eastern part of Alexander's empire
Suetonius (69-122 AD)
Roman historian who wrote a set of biographies about twelve successive Roman rulers
  • his work was called "De Vita Caesarum" and covered the rulers from Julius Caesar to Domitian
  • belonged to the equestrian order
Trajan (53-117 AD)
Roman emperor who presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history
  • ruled from 98 AD to his death 117
  • second of the Five Good Emperors
  • declared by senate as "best ruler"
  • successful soldier-emperor
Titus Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD)
A first-century Romano-Jewish scholar and historian
  • born in Jerusalem, then part of Roman Judea
  • known as Josephus
  • initially fought against the Romans during the First Jewish–Roman War as head of Jewish forces in Galilee
  • Josephus claims the Jewish Messianic prophecies that initiated the First Roman-Jewish War made reference to Vespasian becoming Emperor of Rome. In response Vespasian decided to keep Josephus as a hostage and interpreter.
  • After Vespasian did become Emperor in 69, he granted Josephus his freedom, at which time Josephus assumed the emperor's family name of Flavius.
  • Flavius Josephus fully defected to the Roman side and was granted Roman citizenship.
  • became an adviser and friend of Vespasian's son Titus, serving as his translator when Titus led the Siege of Jerusalem
  • Josephus recorded Jewish history which provided valuable insight into first century Judaism and the background of Early Christianity
Vespasian (9-79 AD)
Founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Roman Empire from 69-96
  • dynasty included two sons Titus and Domitian
  • from an equestrian family that rose into the senatorial rank under the Julio–Claudian emperors
  • renown came from his military success: he led the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 and subjugated Judea during the Jewish rebellion of 66
Polybius (200-118 BC)
Greek historian in Hellenistic Period who wrote "The Histories" which covered 264-146 BC in detail
  • describes the rise of the Roman Empire
  • he is is renowned for his ideas concerning the separation of powers in government, later used in Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws and in drafting the United States Constitution
Tacitus (56-117 AD)
Senator and a historian of the Roman Empire
  • two major works: "Annals" and "Histories" examine the reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, Nero, and the Year of the Four Emperors
27 Vocabulary Words I Learned in this Course:
alacrity, adj. cheerful willingness, eagerness, liveliness, enthusiasm  "They resigned up their souls with great alacrity."
apologia, n. [ap-ah-LOH-gee-ah] a formal written defense of something you believe in strongly  "We find in 2 Corinthians an apologia where Paul says that he's actually up to being an apostle and gives the image of himself in a triumphal procession."
apotheosis, n. deification, specifically under the Roman empire, the formal attribution of divine honors to a deceased emperor or other member of the imperial family  "A deceased emperor held worthy of the honor could be voted a state divinity by the Senate and elevated as such in an act of apotheosis."
arete, n. [AHR-ay-tay] virtue, excellence  "Providence has filled Augustus with arete for the benefit of humanity."
benefaction, n. an act of doing good; a benefit, a blessing, a contribution of money or assistance  "They nurtured a patron-client relationship that was marked by mutual benefaction."
beneficent, adj. characterized by or performing acts of kindness or charity  "The Roman Empire was not entirely beneficent and kind to its provinces, of course."
bouleuterion, n. a building which housed the council of citizens (boule) in Ancient Greece  "Our sole source of knowledge of the code is the fragmentary boustrophedon inscription[2] on the circular walls of what might have been a bouleuterion or other public civic building in the agora of Gortyn."
cajole, v. [ka-JOHL] to persuade someone to do something which they are reluctant to do, often by flattery, to coax  "The letters of 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 are about poverty, about others giving money for the saints, about cajoling the Corinthians and others in the region to give money."
codex (pl. codices), n. [COH-dee-seez] a historical book made up of a number of sheets of paper, vellum, papyrus, or similar, with hand-written content  "The Codex Vaticanus is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of the Greek Bible (Old and New Testament), one of the four great uncial (style of writing characterized by somewhat rounded capital letters) codices."
cognomen, n. the third and usually last name of a citizen of ancient Rome, as "Caesar" in Gaius Julius Caesar  "Paulus Fabius Maximus talks to the Asian League about the birthday of Caesar, i.e. of Octavian, also called Augustus, who took on the cognomen of his adopted father Julius Caesar."
diadochi, n. [digh-AD-oh-kee] the rival generals, family and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for the control of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC  "Seleucus I Nicator (ca. 358 BC – 281 BC) was one of the Diadochi, having previously served as an infantry general under Alexander the Great, he eventually assumed the title of basileus and established the Seleucid Empire over much of Alexander's near eastern territories."
exordium, n. the introductory part of a discourse or written composition, which prepares the audience for the main subject; the opening part of an oration  "Verses 1:4-9 of 1 Corinthians is an exordium of thanksgiving."
hybridity, n. something with mixed origin or composition  "A better framework for understanding the historical Josephus is to think of him as a hybridity."
instigate, v. to stimulate to an action or course, to incite to do something, to set or goad on, to urge, generally in a bad sense  "Their acts instigated yet another crime."
lacuna (pl. lacunae), n. [la-KOON-igh] a gap in a manuscript, inscription, text, painting, or a musical work  "There are substantial lacunae in the surviving texts, including a gap in the Annals that is four books long."
magus (pl. magi), n. [MAY-guhs, MAY-gee] a magician or sorcerer of ancient times  "In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, and Daniel is the magus who can interpret it."
palimpsest, n. [PAL-imp-sest] a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped or washed off and which can be used again(added)  "It contained fragments of Fronto's correspondence with Verus, which overlapped the Milan palimpsest."
pastiche, n. [pass-TEESH] an incongruous mixture; a hodgepodge, especially a work of art, drama, literature, music, or architecture that imitates the work of a previous artist, or a work that quotes other works  "Second Corinthians is probably a pastiche of letters written over time and edited together later."
patera, n. a shallow ceramic or metal libation bowl used for the ritual pouring of a liquid as an offering to a god, often having a bulbous indentation in the center underside to facilitate holding it, and typically having no handles, and no feet  "A statue of Augustus has a toga pulled over his right shoulder which indicated he was offering a sacrifice, his right arm was probably holding a patera."
progymnasmata, n. [pro-jim-NAZ-meh-tah] rhetorical exercises gradually leading the Greco-Roman student to familiarity with the elements of rhetoric, in preparation for their own practice speeches and ultimately their own orations: 1. Fable, 2. Narrative, 3. Chreia (anecdote), 4. Proverb, 5. Refutation, 6. Confirmation, 7. Commonplace, 8. Encomium (short speech that praises a person or thing), 9. Vituperation (short speech that criticizes a person or thing), 10. Comparison, 11. Impersonation, 12. Description, 13. Thesis, 14. Defense or Attack of a law  "In ancient Greek and Roman education, the fable was the first of the progymnasmata training exercises in prose composition and public speaking, wherein students would be asked to learn fables, expand upon them, invent their own, and finally use them as persuasive examples in longer forensic or deliberative speeches."
prytaneion, n. [prigh-TAY-nee-on] the seat of the executive, or the seat of government in ancient Greece, or the ancient structures where officials met relating to the government of a city, a place which contained the holy fire of Hestia, the goddess of the hearth and the symbol of the life of the city, and today  "Included in the civic honors were free meals at the town hall or prytaneion and front row seats at festivals."
salvo, n. a concentrated fire from pieces of artillery, as in endeavoring to make a break in a fortification, any volley, as in an argument or debate  "The war was only the opening salvo in a long running struggle between the two peoples."
satrap (pl. satrapies), n. [SAH-trap] name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid (Persian) Empires and in several of their successors, also used today to refer to world leaders or governors who are heavily influenced by larger world superpowers or hegemonies and act as their surrogates  "Seleucus [say-LOO-kuss] was an infantry general under Alexander the Great, was appointed Satrap of Babylon, and from 312 BC, he ruthlessly expanded his dominions and eventually conquered the Persian and Median lands."
stoa, n. in ancient Greek architecture, a covered walkway or portico, commonly for public usage, early stoas were open at the entrance with columns, usually of the Doric order, lining the side of the building, they created a safe, enveloping, protective atmosphere ##stoa  "A two-storied stoa, 17.5 m wide, was constructed at the eastern and western side of the agora."
synoptic, adj. presenting a summary of the principal parts or a general view of the whole  "Polybuis' history offers a synoptic view, i.e. he says that he puts together all of the world and explains it."
topos (pl. topoi), n. a traditional theme or motif; a literary convention  "A slightly different kind of topos is the invocation of nature (sky, seas, animals, etc.) for various rhetorical purposes, such as witnessing to an oath, rejoicing or praising God, or sharing in the mourning of the speaker."
vellum, n. a parchment made from calf skin, as opposed to that from other animals  "The writing was washed from parchment or vellum using milk and oat bran."
16 Flashcards I Recorded in this Course:
who created the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?
King Nebuchadnezzar
who wrote "The Histories" around 120 BC?
who was Rome's first emperor?
Octavian, as he was called until his great-uncle, Julius Caesar, adopted him, then Augustus, took power in 27 BC
Iranian/Levant empire 312 BC - 63 BC
Seleucid [sel-LOO-sid] Empire
empire 626 BC - 539 BC in present day Iraq to Levant
Neo-Babylonian Empire (Nebuchadnezzar, near end)
who commanded at the final siege and destruction of Carthage
Scipio the Younger (185–129 BC)
what is the difference between the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah?
KINGDOM OF JUDAH (930 BC - 586 BC): referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" whereas the "Northern Kingdom" was the Kingdom of Israel, at the beginning, the Kingdom of Judah tried to establish rule over the north, 587 BC: Nebuchadnezzar destroys Jerusalem, KINGDOM OF ISRAEL (930 BC - 720 BC) conquered by the Assyrian Empire
empire from 215BC-164BC in Iran/Levant/Turkey
Seleucid [sel-OO-sid] Empire
northern Iranian empire from 678-549 BC
Median Empire
western and central Asian empire from 550–330 BC
Achaemenid [ah-KEE-men-id] Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great
kingdom founded 305 BC after death of Alexander the Great, ended with the death of Cleopatra and Roman conquest in 30 BC
Ptolemaic [tall-ah-MAY-ik] Kingdom
ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions between 140-116BC
Hasmonean dynasty
who were the five good emperors
Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius
Roman historian who wrote a set of biographies of twelve successive Roman rulers
Suetonius [soo-TOH-nee-us] (69-122AD)
according to Josephus, what were the four kinds of Jews in the ancient world
Pharisees, Sadducees [SAD-joo-seez], Essenes, and "the fourth sect" led by Judas of Galilee
who was the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion
Asklepios [ah-SKLEE-pee-us]