R653 Spring 2019 Civil Rights in Biblical Times: What Was It Like Then and Does Anything from That Era Apply Today?
Mondays, 9:40–11:05, Mar. 25–April 15
Instructor: Stephen Ruth
Many of us look to the Bible to justify our views on the rights of women, minorities, immigrants, persons with disabilities, etc., as well as finding models for good and bad management of cities, towns, and countries, plus tax policy, land management, and many more issues. These sessions span two millennia of biblical themes from the patriarchs (and a few matriarchs) all the way through the time of Jesus, examining the way laws and general practice affected the rich and the poor, men and women, free people and slaves, civil and uncivil societies. We will compare those times to the present day in the context of many of the issues that are on the front burner of current national policy considerations. Many famous biblical figures and their influence on various themes will be included: the daughters of Zelophehad, Mary Magdalene, and St. Paul on women’s rights; Joshua, Solomon, and Cyrus on nation building; Moses, Jesus, and St. Peter on slavery; Moses and St. Paul on homosexuality, and dozens more. There will be extensive citations from biblical sources as well as perspectives from commentators, such as Josephus, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Raymond Brown, Martin Buber, Teilhard de Chardin, and others. No previous familiarity with the Old or New Testament is needed. Course participants will also receive a free copy of Prof. Ruth's e-book One Year Trip Through the Bible–Readings and Reflections: A Layman’s Fresh Perspective on the Complete Old and New Testaments.
Stephen Ruth is a professor of public policy at Mason, specializing in technology issues associated with globalization. He is also the director of the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology. His book, One Year Trip through the Bible, examines 73 books of the Hebrew Tanakh and the New Testament.