How Moses and his God shook the ancient world & laid the foundations for Christianity and modern civilisation Secularisation has become the new normal and the idea of God is being challenged and pushed out of public life. What do we stand to lose?

In such a world we need more than ever to go back to the very roots of faith. Few people can do this quite as powerfully as Iain Provan. He peels back the layers of belief in the Old Testament – and particularly the works of Moses – to discover the radical innovations about belief in God that made Jerusalem so unique and disruptive in the ideas and religions of the ancient world. So what was so unique and remarkable about this tiny outpost of ‘Jerusalem’ such that it could withstand the intellectual might of Greece – and not only that – it could start an alternative thinking tradition that would end up taking over the world?

Building on Edwin Judge’s previous Gospel Conversations talks on the impact of the Christian gospel on the Graeco-Roman world-view, this series develops the idea of the Jerusalem exception: that Jewish belief and practice offered a startling alternative not only to “Athens” (the default Greek worldview) in the centuries before Christ, but also to various other emerging alternatives to “old religion” across the globe. It was this Jerusalemite religion – the “seriously dangerous religion” Professor Provan explored in his 2014 book of that name – that formed the foundation for what Jesus said and did in the first century AD, and ultimately has profoundly shaped the world in which we now live.

This series won’t just be an intellectually intriguing journey. It will help us to understand and explain the uniqueness of the Gospel today. We all live in a world that has been shaped and blessed by the Gospel – but the forces of secularisation forget or deny this heritage. By taking us back to what the ancient world was like – everywhere ‘except in Jerusalem’ – we will much more deeply appreciate the massive achievements, blessings and influences of the Gospel that built on the Jerusalem heritage and revelation about the nature of reality. Thus we will be much better equipped to read our contemporary world, and know how to live in a distinctively Christian way within it. And it will better equip us to explain the Gospel to this world.

Iain Provan
Iain is Professor of Old Testament at Regent College, Vancouver. He is, without doubt, one of the leading scholars in the world on the Old Testament. But scholarship in Iain’s case does not mean burrowing down into the details of the text but rather lifting our gaze higher and broader to see the topography of the narrative in all its contours and implications.
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