Foundations of Western Thought: Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans (Portable Professor Series)

Foundations of Western Thought: Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans (Portable Professor Series)

4.6 13
by Timothy B. Shutt
Portable Professor™ is a series of exciting and informative lectures recorded by some of today's most renowned university and college professors. Each course introduces listeners to fascinating, and sometimes startling, insights into the intellectual forces that shape our understanding of the world. Each package includes 14 riveting lectures presented by


Portable Professor™ is a series of exciting and informative lectures recorded by some of today's most renowned university and college professors. Each course introduces listeners to fascinating, and sometimes startling, insights into the intellectual forces that shape our understanding of the world. Each package includes 14 riveting lectures presented by notable professors as well as a book-length course guide.

Even at a remove of several millennia, it is impossible to overestimate the considerable influence of three ancient civilizations—the Hebrew, Greek, and Roman—on Western thought. In his inimitably entertaining and accessible style, Professor Timothy Shutt illustrates how the concepts with which these civilizations wrestled, individually and in concert, continue to shape the cultural life of the West.


  1. Overview and Backgrounds
  2. The Hebrew Bible: Introduction and Genesis
  3. The Hebrew Bible: Exodus, David, the Prophets, and Job
  4. Homer and The Iliad
  5. Homer: The Odyssey and the Birth of Tragedy
  6. Aeschylus and the Greek Drama
  7. Herodotus and Thucydides: Historians and Hellenism
  8. Socrates and Plato
  9. Plato and Aristotle
  10. Virgil and Rome
  11. Virgil and Ovid
  12. The Christian Bible: The Gospels
  13. The Christian Bible: The Diaspora and St. Paul
  14. Plotinus and St. Augustine: The End of Antiquity and the Medieval Synthesis

Timothy B. Shutt is a graduate of Yale, and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Virginia, where he specialized in medieval literature and the history of ideas. Shutt—who today lectures on Homer, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible and the Greek historians, Virgil, and Dante to packed houses—joined Kenyon College in 1986, and has since been honored frequently for his teaching skills.

Product Details

Barnes & Noble
Publication date:
Portable Professor Series
Edition description:
Unabridged, 8 CD's, Full-length Course G
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.25(h) x 2.00(d)

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Foundations of Western Thought: Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans (Portable Professor Series) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Professor Shutt eloquently and carefully discusses the foundational works of literature that shaped the unique and profound outlook of Western society and culture. The booklet that accompanies the lecture is thorough on its own, but it also has an exceptional reading list to help the student pursue the subject in depth. I've listened to most of the courses in this series and this is in my top 3 favorites.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Professor Shutt is stimulating and full of energy in his presentation. I was thoroughly interested in what he had to say during this course. This course takes on a HUGE subject and gives a great overview.
Guest More than 1 year ago
He turns his scholarship to the great story that history gives us. He has excellent judgment about what it is that helps define a period, a people. He creates images which allow the mind to visualize the facts. He's a good story teller. If only more teachers were good story tellers, we might become better characters for the stories they may one day tell about us.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book and lectures by Professor Shutt is a gift we have just received. We couldn't stop listening to the lectures. We recommend this book and lectures wholeheartedly. I can't imagine a better teller of these events. There is a magic in the presentation. We will listen many times to the informative lectures.
Manirul More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The enthusiasm of Professor Shutt is absolutely contagious. I listened to the presentation in the car but couldn't wait to read some of the recommended further reading suggested in the supplemental material. Even the Greek philosophy was covered in effective lay person language.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who gets that hung up on dates is missing the point of the lectures. If one wants an archeology lesson, there are probably better sources than this lecture. I, perhaps alone, am not one to remember dates and wasn't the least bit interested in exactly when things happened as much as what, why, and how things happened and what came of these events and the merging of ideas that forms our current culture. This was an excellent lecture series which, regrettably, I am only able to listen to in my car and thus can't take notes. But the chance to have my meager world opened up to a deeper understanding of just how much 'we westerners' draw from our ancestors can only be briefly described as amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I always welcome corrections, of course, and always regret disappointing readers or listeners. So as soon as I read the previous review, I went back to check my facts. One problem is, of course, that all of the dates in question are to greater or lesser degree conjectural, in the sense that they are based not on existing, dated texts or inscriptions, but archaelogical evidence, and, in the special case of the gospels, on textual scholarship, correlation with other texts, and a general sense of congruity with historical events, for example, the Jewish revolt of 66-74 C. E. That is to say, the target is constantly and rightly shifting to some degree and is accordingly, by the very nature of the case, subject to some degree of interpretation. None of this is to suggest, though, that it is not an author's responsibility to be as up-to-date and accurate as possible. So let's take these dates up one by one. The 'so-called Neolithic revolution' took place at different times in different places, and with it, or shortly thereafter, the cultivation of barley, emmer wheat, and the like, and the domestication of animals (dogs were domesticated well before, so I understand, and I am aware of some very recent evidence suggesting that cats may have been as well, or at least one cat). As I understand the matter there is evidence of herding of a sort, or at any rate, systematic culling of young wild sheep, in Kurdistan from about 10,500 B.C.E. By 8000 B.C.E., I read that there is evidence from the same area of the herding of goats. And what I understand to be the oldest full farming village yet discovered is Catalhoyuk in Anatolia, dated to about 8300 B.C.E., though settlements of one sort or another at Jericho are purportedly older. As I understand the matter agriculture did indeed begin to spread to Europe, to Greece, the Balkans, and the shores of the Black Sea about 6500-6000 B.C.E. But these dates do indeed change as we come to know more, and I welcome the chance to become more accurate. As for Sumer, the best dates I have at my disposal suggest suggest that urban settlements date from 4500-3500, an admittedly wide range, and the earliest evidence of cunieform to 3300. The 'Royal Graves' at Ur to about 2500. The most recent dates I have on the Trojan War are 1250-1225, but here I sought to correlate the events at Troy with the widespread cultural collapse in Aegean around 1200, when the Mycenean world too began a precipitous decline. This period, though, as I understand the matter, is subject to particularly fast-moving reassessment, so I suspect a light touch is necessary. Traditionally the collapse was associated with the 'so-called' Dorian invasions and the incursion of the 'Sea Peoples,' but again, this is a fast-changing field, and I cannot claim to certainty or anything like it. The Mycenaeans did indeed take over Crete sometime between 1500-1425---the dates which I have at my disposal differ---bringing the 'Linear B' script with them and Knossos evidently was destroyed about 1375. But my understanding is that Crete too suffered severely after 1200. The gospels are special case. This field is wonderland of ideological speculation and tendentious argument as proponents of 'Lost Christianities,' partisans of the Gospel of Thomas, the speculations of the 'Jesus Seminar,' and their more traditional opponents all seek to make their respective cases. It is, I think, no easy matter in this most contentious of all fields to separate the wheat from the chaff as various scholars seek to argue that Jesus was a political revolutionary, a 'liberation theologian' before the event, or that he was a proto-feminist, or a gnostic wisdom teacher, or simply a badly misinterpreted but more or less traditional Jewish reformer---or even what most Christian traditions have claimed, Orthodox, Catholic, Nestorian, Monophysite, or whatever disagreements aside. In this context, the early dates for the gos
Guest More than 1 year ago
Professor Shutt has a nice voice, but the course was so full of major mistakes that you wonder if you¿ve learned anything true when it¿s over. Here are examples. His dates for the so-called ¿Neolithic revolution¿ and origins of Sumerian civilization are wrong, dated to 6000 and 2500 B.C. so that these dates are wrong by several thousand years and five centuries, respectively. His discussion is based on dated scholarship, and he seems unaware of the new positions on the introduction of cuneiform. The dating of the Trojan War to 1200 B.C. is wrong, and Professor Shutt seems unaware that scholars now date the event to ca. 1250 B.C. and consider Troy VI as the Homeric city (rather than VIIB). Abraham is dated to ca. 1750 B.C. and as a native of Ur in lower Mesopotamia. This is a position that was advanced in the 1940s and 1950s, but this dating has been abandoned in light of documentary evidence and archaeological evidence. The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations are treated as the same, and destruction of Minoan civilization (i.e. on the island of Crete) is dated to 1200 B.C., when it was destroyed by the Mycenaeans in 1400 B.C. Professor Shutt dates the writing of the Gospels at least ten to fifteen years earlier than any scholar today is willing to accept. I could go on. If this was a college course, I¿d want my tuition back.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most memorable course I took in college (UVA)! Will buy this to share with my kids as they get older.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It took quite a while through this lecture to get interesting. The overview of Hebrews and Greeks seemed to be just that - an overview. There was no real depth. It was more like a broad-stroke history. The section on the Romans (the last couple of CDs) was very interesting, but I really didn't feel like I was getting anything out of it until then. I suppose it could be argued that - being a foundation course - you aren't supposed to get much out of it, but to build on it later. However, I found this course to be a let-down after some of the other courses in this series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was fortunate enough to be able to take this course 'live,' several years ago, and it was -- hands down -- the most useful class I have ever taken. Professor Shutt provides a guide (a map, if you will) to the ancient cultures that shaped the present world. Familiarity with these foundations is essential to a deep understanding of the evolution of Western culture: philosophy, theology, politics, art, and even scientific thought. In Professor Shutt's lively and learned lectures, what could be as dry as dust is presented, instead, with infectious enthusiasm. His customary amiable approach and warmth of manner make an intimidating subject accessible without sacrificing content. Using the metaphor of a river system, he explores the sources of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman thought, their influences upon each other, and the confluence of these streams in the mighty Roman Empire. Fourteen lectures bring us to 'The End of Antiquity,' on the cusp of the Middle Ages. Professor Shutt's course is, as always, not only interesting, informative, & engaging, but thoroughly absorbing. After nine years, I have the inestimable pleasure of revisiting my favorite course -- and finding that it's still my favorite.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had this professor in college, and he is absolutely fabulous! Witty, clever, energetic, inspired, baudy, funny and a joy to all students. I heard he was putting out this series and ordered it before it even came out. This guy can make history and literature come to life in such a compelling way, that if this audio presentation is anything like the live prof., you'll be entertained and educated beyond anything you could have expected. If you love the humanities and liberal arts, Prof. Shutt will be your guiding light.