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Biblical Series
Course Description:
This is Peterson's Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories. An extension of his work in Maps of Meaning, here he disects the biblical stories and their significance in the present day. He derives incredible meaning from the ancient words. You'll look at the Bible completely differently after experiencing this course.
1
Introduction to the Idea of God
158 minutes
MY LIST
Lecture I in my Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories series from May 16th at Isabel Bader Theatre in Toronto. In this lecture, I describe what I consider to be the idea of God, which is at least partly the notion of sovereignty and power, divorced from any concrete sovereign or particular, individual person of power. I also suggest that God, as Father, is something akin to the spirit or pattern inherent in the human hierarchy of authority, which is based in turn on the dominance hierarchies characterizing animals. Q & A Starts: 1:57:25
2
Genesis 1: Chaos & Order
152 minutes
MY LIST
Lecture II in my Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories from May 23 at Isabel Bader Theatre, Toronto. In this lecture, I present Genesis 1, which presents the idea that a pre-existent cognitive structure (God the Father) uses the Logos, the Christian Word, the second Person of the Trinity, to generate habitable order out of precosmogonic chaos at the beginning of time. It is in that Image that Man and Woman are created -- indicating, perhaps, that it is (1) through speech that we participate in the creation of the cosmos of experience and (2) that what true speech creates is good. It is a predicate of Western culture that each individual partakes in some manner in the divine. This is the true significance of consciousness, which has a world-creating aspect. Q & A Starts: 1:59:00
3
God and the Hierarchy of Authority
146 minutes
MY LIST
Although I thought I might get to Genesis II in this third lecture, and begin talking about Adam & Eve, it didn't turn out that way. There was more to be said about the idea of God as creator (with the Word as the process underlying the act of creation). I didn't mind, because it is very important to get God and the Creation of the Universe right before moving on. In this lecture, I tried to outline something like this: for anything to be, there has to be a substrate (call it a potential) from which it emerges, a structure that provides the possibility of imposing order on that substrate, and the act of ordering, itself. So the first is something like the precosmogonic chaos (implicitly feminine); the second, God the Father; the third, what the Christian West has portrayed as the Son (the Word of Truth).
4
Adam and Eve: Self-Consciousness, Evil, and Death
152 minutes
MY LIST
I turned my attention in this lecture to the older of the two creation accounts in Genesis: the story of Adam and Eve. In its few short paragraphs, it covers:
1. the emergence of human self-consciousness;
2. mankind's attendant realization of vulnerability, mortality, and death;
3. the origin of the capacity for willful evil, as the ability to exploit that newly-realized vulnerability;
4. the emergence of shame as a consequence of that realization;
5. the shrinking from divine destiny that occurred when shame emerged; and
6. the beginning of true history, with the self-conscious toil that life in history entails.
The only story that can perhaps match it in terms of impact per sentence is that of Cain and Abel, which we discuss in the next lecture: number five in this twelve part series.
5
Cain and Abel: The Hostile Brothers
151 minutes
MY LIST
Bible Series V: Cain and Abel: The Hostile Brothers. The account of Cain and Abel is remarkable for its unique combination of brevity and depth. In a few short sentences, it outlines two diametrically opposed modes of being -- both responses to the emergence of self-consciousness and the knowledge of good and evil detailed in story of Adam and Eve.
Cain's mode of being -- resentful, arrogant and murderous -- arises because his sacrifices are rejected by God. This means that his attempts to give up something valuable in the present to ensure prosperity in the future are insufficient. He fails, in consequence, to thrive, as he believes he should, and becomes bitter, resentful and murderous.
Abel's mode of being is characterized, by contrast, by proper sacrifice -- by the establishment of balance between present action and future benefit. This ensures his personal and social success, accruing over time. Unfortunately, it also makes him the target of Cain's malevolence.
This great short story is relevant personally, on the level of the family, and politically, all with equal force, all simultaneously.
6
The Psychology of the Flood
155 minutes
MY LIST
The story of Noah and the Ark is next in the Genesis sequence. This is a more elaborated tale than the initial creation account, or the story of Adam and Eve or Cain and Abel. However, it cannot be understood in its true depth without some investigation into what the motif of the flood means, psychologically, and an analysis of how that motif is informed by the order/chaos dichotomy, as well as by the idea of an involuntary voyage to the underworld or confrontation with the dragon. In consequence, this lecture concentrates almost exclusively on Psychology: How is an encounter with the unknown to be understood, conceptually? How and why is that represented with themes such as the underworld voyage, the dragon fight, or the flood?
7
Walking with God: Noah and the Flood
152 minutes
MY LIST
Life at the individual and the societal level is punctuated by crisis and catastrophe. This stark truth finds its narrative representation in the widely-distributed universal motif of the flood. Mircea Eliade, the great Romanian historian of religion, noted that flood stories identify two reasons for the destruction: (1) the tendency of complex things to fall apart of their own accord; (2) the proclivity of human beings to speed up that process by sinning, or missing the mark (by engaging in self-evident corruption, or by failing to attend to what cries out for attention). The Genesis story clearly states that Noah and his family are to be spared from impending disaster because Noah “walks with God,” as Adam did before the Fall. In this lecture, the 7th in the series, I intermingle the story of Noah and his survival with elements of the Sermon on the Mount, making the effort to explain to a modern audience why careful moral attitude and behavior comprises the best defence against the righteous anger of God.
8
Abrahamic Stories, with Matthieu & Jonathan Pageau
85 minutes
MY LIST
I had this 90 minute discussion with Jonathan Pageau, carver of Orthodox icons and YouTube broadcaster, as well as his brother Matthieu, who recently finished a draft of a book on the bible. I did so as part of the background research I was doing for the 8th lecture in my series The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories. We talked about the nature of the narrative landscape of the Bible, focusing on the Abrahamic stories, which constitute the subject material for that 8th and other forthcoming lectures.
9
The Phenomenology of the Divine
160 minutes
MY LIST
In the next series of stories, the Biblical patriarch Abram (later: Abraham) enters into a covenant with God. The history of Israel proper begins with these stories. Abram heeds the call to adventure, journeys courageously away from his country and family into the foreign and unknown, encounters the disasters of nature and the tyranny of mankind and maintains his relationship with the God who has sent him forth. He becomes in this manner a light in the world, and a father of nations. How is this all to be understood? I am attempting in this lecture to determine precisely that. How are we, as modern people, to make sense of the idea of the God who reveals himself to a personality? How can we relate the details of the Abramic stories to our own lives, in the current world? In what frame of reference can these stories be seen to make sense, and to reveal their meaning?
10
The Call to Abraham
155 minutes
MY LIST
In this lecture, I tell the story of Abraham, who heeds the call of God to leave what was familiar behind and to journey into unknown lands. The man portrayed in the Bible as the father of nations moves forward into the world. He encounters the worst of nature (famine), society (the tyranny of Egypt) and the envy of the powerful, who desire his wife. There is nothing easy about Abraham's life. Instead, he is portrayed both as a real man, with serious problems, and a hero, who overcomes tremendous obstacles to establish himself in the world. His covenant with God is an Ark. His decision to aim at the highest good he can conceptualize places an aura of magic around the events of his life, despite their harshness. He's a model for life in the world as it is, not as we wish it would be.
11
Abraham: Father of Nations
148 minutes
MY LIST
The Abrahamic adventures continue with this, the tenth lecture in my 12-part initial Biblical lecture series. Abraham's life is presented as a series of encapsulated narratives, punctuated by sacrifice, and the rekindling of his covenant with God. This seems to reflect the pattern of human life: the journey towards a goal, or destination, and the completion of a stage or epoch of life, followed by the necessity of revaluation and reconsideration of identity, prior to the next step forward. Abraham, for his part, makes the sacrifices necessary to continue to walk with God, or before God (as the terminology in this section has it). It is this decision that allows him to transcend the vicissitudes of life, and to take his role as the father of nations.
12
Sodom and Gomorrah
2 minutes
MY LIST
Often interpreted as an injunction against homosexuality (particularly by those simultaneously claiming identity as Christians and opposed to that orientation), the stories of the angels who visit Abraham, bless him, and then rain destruction on Sodom and Gomorrah are more truly a warning against mistreatment of the stranger and impulsive, dysregulated, sybaritic conduct. Abraham opens his heart and hearth to the stranger. The denizens of Lot’s soon-to-be lost cities threaten them with violent rape. God exacts a terrible retribution. The warning is clear.
13
The Great Sacrifice: Abraham and Isaac
153 minutes
MY LIST
In this, the final lecture of the Summer 2017 12-part series The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories, we encounter, first, Hagar's banishment to the desert with Ishmael and then the demand made by God to Abraham for the sacrifice of Isaac.To sacrifice now is to gain later: perhaps the greatest of human discoveries. What, then, should best be sacrificed? And what might be the greatest gain? There are few eternal questions more profound and difficult.In this lecture, I read an excerpt from Chapter 7 of my new book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, now available for pre-order at Amazon.ca (http://amzn.to/2wkb7MY) and Amazon.com (http://amzn.to/2x1hfXF).