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Francis Of Assisi

Discover the deeply human sense of the man himself, what he stood for—and find what it means to live life in faith, hope, and love.
Francis of Assisi is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 102.
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Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not a lot of details The instructors give a few examples in the lectures, but details are lacking. In 12 lectures, one should get more than snippets about the subject.
Date published: 2024-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Francis of Assisi Well done and well presented. They know the Sources and use them to present the deeper meaning of events in the saint’s life.
Date published: 2022-11-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Better than I Expected As one would surmise, this course is essentially a biography of Saint Francis of Assisi. Obviously, this is of greater interest to those who are Christian than to those who are not and similarly of greater interest to those who are Catholic Christians than to those who are Protestants or Orthodox. However, it is more than a hagiography. It puts Francis and his movement into historical context. For example, the course shows that they can be considered a reaction to the rise of the money economy (as opposed to subsistence farming and a barter economy) and to the heretical Waldensian and Albigensian movements. It also follows the movement after the death of Francis, including Bonaventure (who wrote a biography of Francis), and especially St. Clare (who founded an order of nuns similar to the Franciscans). Dr. Cook and Dr. Herzman team taught this course. There is team teaching in other courses, but usually that entails one lecturer teaching a group of lectures while another lecturer teaches a different group of lectures all within the one course. In this case, however, Dr. Cook and Dr. Herzman take turns speaking to the student within a lecture. It is as though they are conversing with the student although not with each other. There are several courses offered by The Great Courses (TGC) that mention Francis and the Franciscans. However, I consider this the clearest and most illuminating. Dr. Cook and Dr. Herzman team taught at the State University of New York, so they are experienced at working together. This synergy shows in this course. The course guide is in outline form (which I think is less useful than the paragraph format used by later courses) and it has no graphics. However, the appendices are good. There is a timeline, a glossary, biographical notes for key individuals, and a bibliography with notes on what value the reference materials provide. The course is available only in audio streaming. The course was published in 2000.
Date published: 2022-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very helpful I really enjoyed the course. It was very well taught.
Date published: 2022-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating course I began listening and have gone through a few lectures with this great duo of teachers. Very broad in its exploration. I'm learning a lot.
Date published: 2022-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative I knew a lot about the subject and now know much more. Enjoyed the conversation between these two scholars.
Date published: 2022-02-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Misses the boat This short series was more a history of the era St Francis lived in than of the man himself. Worth listening to but it did not add much to my knowledge of the man himself. The tandem presenters did offer a nice change from the usual solo professor.
Date published: 2020-11-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Undecided Not sure how to properly frase this. I do not want to be disrespectful to religious people and I am Roman Catholic; but I felt this course was something that would suit Sunday school. Not sure what I really expected... Other than referring to St. Francis as "a grubby little guy" (really?!), the course had a clear religious slant without questioning some of the controversial aspects of St. Francis' life. I was hoping to get a more secular view of things. Who really was this guy? Why did the pope accept his radical ideas and behavior (others called heretics and imprisoned or executed for less). And how did he get the stigmata? Nobody else finds it sketchy that a guy goes off to the mountains and returns with wounds? Nobody else questions they may be self induced? Nobody else get the feeling that Saint Francis, as sympathetics figure as he was, was a little... off? The professors do not question miracles attributed to Saint Francis and Claire. Again, no offense; but maybe a more skeptical analysis was needed. All and all I enjoyed listening to the course, but was left with more questions than answers. Also, like others, I do not like the back and forth format of these lectures. I have listened to other courses by these 2 (Dante being one) and did not like the format there either.
Date published: 2020-10-01
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Overview

When Francis of Assisi died in 1226, he left behind little material wealth. And yet he did leave behind a spiritual legacy that survives and changes lives even today. Francis of Assisi, delivered by the veteran teaching team of Professors William R. Cook and Ronald B. Herzman, gives you a well-rounded and fully informed introduction to this luminous man and his influence on the course of both Christian and Western history. Throughout each of these lectures shines the deeply human sense of Assisi and his views on faith, hope, love, and more—views that, Professors Cook and Herzman argue, are needed as much today as they were when Francis was alive.

About

William R. Cook

In some ways, being detached from the world allows you also to be united with the world.

INSTITUTION

State University of New York, Geneseo
Dr. William R. Cook is the Distinguished Teaching Professor of History at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1970. He earned his bachelor's degree cum laude from Wabash College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa there. He was then awarded Woodrow Wilson and Herbert Lehman fellowships to study medieval history at Cornell University, where he earned his Ph.D. Professor Cook teaches courses in ancient and medieval history, the Renaissance and Reformation periods, and the Bible and Christian thought. Since 1983 Professor Cook has directed 11 Seminars for School Teachers for the National Endowment for the Humanities. His books include Images of St. Francis of Assisi and Francis of Assisi: The Way of Poverty and Humility. Dr. Cook contributed to the Cambridge Companion to Giotto and edits and contributes to The Art of the Franciscan Order in Italy. Among his many awards, Professor Cook has received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1992 the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education named him New York State's Professor of the Year. In 2003 he received the first-ever CARA Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Medieval Studies from the Medieval Academy of America.

By This Professor

The World's Greatest Churches
854
The Cathedral
854
The Catholic Church: A History
854
Ronald B. Herzman

I am astonished and deeply grateful for all the feedback from people for whom the Dante course has made a difference in their lives.

INSTITUTION

State University of New York, Geneseo

Dr. Ronald B. Herzman is Distinguished Teaching Professor of English at the State University of New York at Geneseo, where he has taught since 1969. He graduated with honors from Manhattan College and earned his master's degree and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Delaware. Dr. Herzman's teaching interests include Dante, Chaucer, Francis of Assisi, Shakespeare, the Bible, and Arthurian literature. He has written many articles and book chapters and is the coauthor of The Apocalyptic Imagination in Medieval Literature and coeditor of Four Romances of England. Professor Herzman received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1976, and in 1991, Manhattan College awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. Professor Herzman and Professor William R. Cook have been collaborating intensively since 1973, when they team-taught a course at SUNY-Geneseo called The Age of Chaucer. Subsequent courses included The Age of Dante and The Age of Francis of Assisi. Both prolific writers in their own right, together they have published The Medieval World View with the Oxford University Press, currently in its second edition. In 2003, Professors Cook and Herzman were presented with the Medieval Academy of America's first-ever CARA Award for Excellence in Teaching Medieval Studies.

By This Professor

Why Francis of Assisi Is Alive Today

01: Why Francis of Assisi Is Alive Today

Who was Francis of Assisi? What are the reasons for his continuing significance in the modern world? How can we learn about him by studying his own time? What are some of the unexpected places where his influence reaches?

34 min
The Larger World Francis Inherited

02: The Larger World Francis Inherited

In order to answer the questions of the previous lecture, we need to know what the world of Francis was like. More years divide Christ from Francis than divide Francis from us. How had the institutions that mediated the teachings of Jesus changed by the 13th century?

30 min
The Local World Francis Inherited

03: The Local World Francis Inherited

It is important to know Francis not just as a medieval but as a man of Assisi, a thriving market town of central Italy. Francis came from an urban world where a new money economy was in tension with the old feudal order and raising new questions for Christians.

31 min
From Worldly Knight to Knight of Christ

04: From Worldly Knight to Knight of Christ

Francis grew up as the conventional, somewhat pampered son of a merchant. In his early twenties, he began to seek out both solitude for prayer and an active life repairing rundown churches. Prayer and service came to replace his earlier, more worldly values, leading to a dramatic renunciation.

31 min
Francis and the Church

05: Francis and the Church

Although Francis rejected many elements of "the world" that the Church had come to embrace, he never doubted the Church's authority, and sought its blessing for all he did. This is one of the striking—perhaps even paradoxical—things about Francis that must be grasped to understand him.

30 min
Humility, Poverty, Simplicity

06: Humility, Poverty, Simplicity

After giving up his earthly goods, Francis wandered, lived as a hermit, cared for the rejected (especially lepers), and rebuilt churches. The basis for his deeds—voluntary poverty and simplicity—was his experience of the Christian call to love God and neighbor with a whole heart.

30 min
Preaching and Ministries of Compassion

07: Preaching and Ministries of Compassion

Although he was neither learned nor ordained, Francis felt called to preach the Good News, often informally. He once preached to a Muslim sultan, and even to birds, flowers, and stones. Francis was living Christ's command: "Preach to all the creatures of the Earth."

31 min
Knowing and Experiencing Christ

08: Knowing and Experiencing Christ

Some scholars who knew Francis realized that his intuitive grasp of Scripture was superior to book learning. Francis's well-known love of nature was one facet of how he sought God. His reception of Christ's stigmata on Mt. LaVerna is part of the same journey.

31 min
Not Francis Alone—The Order(s) Francis Founded

09: Not Francis Alone—The Order(s) Francis Founded

Often when people adopt a radical way of life, no one joins them. But Francis drew companions from early on. This lecture describes the rapid growth of Franciscan communities, and the difficulties as well as the opportunities this created.

31 min
Not Men Alone—St. Clare and St. Francis

10: Not Men Alone—St. Clare and St. Francis

Clare of Assisi, a younger contemporary of Francis, combined her own charism with traditional forms of monasticism and Franciscan poverty to create a new way for women to serve Christ.

31 min
The Franciscans After Francis

11: The Franciscans After Francis

Francis was canonized just two years after his death. Ever since, he has been the most popular post-Biblical saint in Christendom. Million have journeyed to Assisi to pray or to see the magnificent art that decorates the walls of the Basilica of St. Francis there.

31 min
A Message for Our Time

12: A Message for Our Time

Does this poor, simple man from a distant age have anything to teach Christians in particular and humanity generally? This lecture discusses some surprising people who have thought that the answer to both questions is yes, and powerfully made this point about a saint whose message continues to touch hearts and inspire people across all confessional boundaries.

31 min

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