Speaking

Professor Miano is available for public speaking and is able to give either single talks or short lecture series with a historical theme. Allow 60-90 minutes for each lecture. Keynotes are delivered individually. Lecture series can be delivered over the course of a multi-day conference. Presentations can be tailored to your group’s needs.

Audiences love Dr. Miano’s presentations, because he takes difficult subjects and makes them easy to understand. His lectures are:

  • Never boring
  • Captivating
  • Informative
  • Funny
  • Inspiring

Dr. Miano is not stuffy and boring. He delivers fun and interactive presentations with plenty of humor and at the same time leaves audiences with information they can sink their teeth into. He is very approachable and down-to-earth. He’ll provide the audience with handouts outlining key ideas and contact information for any follow-up questions that they may have.

If your organization is seeking a keynote speaker that gets your people excited about what they are learning, then Dr. Miano is the right speaker for you.

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Dr. Miano’s most frequently requested presentations include:

Keynote Lectures

Expertise is Not the Enemy

America has had a long tradition of distrust for elites. No subject has been immune from such thinking: politics, religion, science, you name it. Any time someone asserts to be an expert on any point, certain quarters of the public explode with anger. They say that this so-called expert is an elitist who looks down on the people and who appeals to his authority in order to stifle dialogue. In this talk, Dr. Miano argues that expertise is nothing to hate or fear. It is needed in our society, in all fields. Experts are our friends. This is not to say that intellectuals should rule the world, but they do exist for our benefit. To reject expertise is to reject not only knowledge itself, but also the method we use to acquire knowledge. It’s a rejection of rational thinking, which holds societies together.

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The Trojan War: The Myth vs. the Reality

For over 3,000 years, the tale of the Trojan War pitting the Greeks against the Trojans has provided one of the richest sources of inspiration in art and literature for the inheritors of the Classical tradition. The question remains, however, did the war really happen? And if so, did it play out as the legends tell us? In this presentation, Dr. David Miano will walk you through both the myth and the history of the Trojan War, and he will show how, not only archaeology, but even the legends themselves, can be used as a window into the values and culture of the ancient Greeks.

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The Ten Commandments in Historical Perspective

The Ten Commandments are well known and frequently thought of in a modern context–i.e., what do they mean for us today? In this special session we will examine the ancient culture that created the Ten Commandments and discuss what those laws meant to the ancient Israelites. How different they understood these laws! Two versions of the Ten Commandments are well known to readers of the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 20:1-17; Deut 5:8-21). A third and fourth version can also be spotted by those with a sharp eye. Did you know that each Decalogue represents, for its source, the one and only version of the Ten Commandments and that each of the versions is a window into one of the successive stages of the Decalogue’s historical development?

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Ancient Potions, Pills, and Other Concoctions

Alchemy has been practiced for thousands of years. Among the ancients could be found professionals who claimed to have the power to cure all sorts of ailments with the knowledge of chemistry. Some even professed their mixes could confer immortality. In this special talk, Dr. David Miano will give you a taste of some of the more interesting cocktails from ancient Egypt and China.

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Human Sacrifice in the Ancient World

This talk is an examination and discussion of the ritual killing of human beings in ancient times. Specifically, we will take a close look at the sacrificial practices of the Mediterranean societies of Greece, Phoenicia, Carthage, and Israel, whether they ever engaged in human sacrifice, and if so, how it may have been conducted.

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Eunuchs in Ancient Times

In this special session we will examine the fascinating world of eunuchs, men from around the world who, for some reason or other, were castrated. The talk will explain what a eunuch was (probably not what most people think), why men became eunuchs, the effects of castration, what governments used them for and why, and where they came from. We’ll also look at specific eunuchs in history.

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Lecture Series

ANCIENT EXPLORERS

This series examines ancient travel and discovery before 500 CE. It will chronicle actual voyages, focusing on the remarkable figures who braved the unknown, the objects of their journeys, and their crude equipment and knowledge.

1. The Earliest Known Expeditions

How did the ancients get from place to place and what did they know about the world around them? This class will look into the earliest inventions in travel technology, geographical knowledge in ancient times, and some ofour earliest accounts of ancient exploration. Join us as we recount the expeditions of the great Egyptian explorers Harkhuf, Nehesj, and Wenamun.

2. The North Atlantic and the Dark Continent

The Greeks, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians made great strides in exploration between the 8th and 4th centuries BCE. The renowned explorers Midacritus, Himilco, Sataspes, Hanno, and Pytheas will be discussed. We will also address the question: Who was the first to circumnavigate Africa?

3. Expeditions East

Classical accounts tell us of several expeditions east into Asia, including those of Aristeas, Skylax, Xenophon, Nearchus, Patrocles, and Eudoxus, and these will be examined.

4. Roman and Asian Explorers

The final presentation in the series will be concerned with expeditions undertaken by the Romans, who attempted to find the source of the Nile as well as a sea passage to India. Then we will reorient ourselves to an Eastern perspective and look at the great journeys of the Chinese explorers Zhang Qien and Faxian.

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THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS IN PERSPECTIVE

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by accident in 1947, and their subsequent study has greatly expanded our knowledge of Ancient Israel and the Bible. People are always hearing about the Dead Sea Scrolls but sometimes only have a vague idea of what they contain or why they are important. This series of five lectures will cover their discovery the political controversy surrounding their translation, and their impact on both Judaism and Christianity.

1. The Discovery The Dead Sea Scrolls

This lecture will cover how the scrolls were discovered in 1947 and why they almost immediately became embroiled in academic politics. The results of subsequent archaeology will be reviewed.

2. The Qumran Community

Who were the people who authored the Scrolls and what did they do and believe?

3. The Dead Sea Scrolls in Biblical Scholarship

How the Scrolls greatly enhanced our knowledge of the Bible and its origins.

4. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Judaism

The impact of the Scrolls on our understanding of ancient Judaism will be reviewed.

5. The Dead Sea Scrolls and Christianity

Do we have a better understanding of the origins of Christianity as a result of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

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BARBARIANS!

These lectures will present an  in-depth look at the people who brought down the Roman Empire during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries.

1. The Goths.  Emperors Valentinian I and his brother Valens fought against the Goths in the Gothic War (376-382). However, Greece and Italy were ravaged by the Visigoths in the years 401-410.   We will learn about the culture of the Goths, the difference between Visigoths and Ostrogoths, and the great Gothic leaders Fritigern and Alaric.

2.  The Huns.  The creation of the Hunnic Empire occurred during 370-469 under Rugila lead to an  uneasy brief alliance with the Romans. We will look at the Huns as a people, the expansion of Hunnic power under Attila and his brother Bleda, Attila’s invasion of Europe, and his empire’s untimely demise.

3.  The Vandals.  The Vandal culture will be reviewed.  A chronicle of  their migration from Eastern Europe, through Gaul and Spain, to North Africa, where under their leader Geiseric in 439 they established an independent kingdom that would last until the 6th century, will be covered.

4.  The Franks.  The unification of the Frankish tribes under the Merovingian dynasty (481) will be covered.  Initially friends of the Romans, the Franks under Clovis I will turn on the Romans and establish independent hegemony over large parts of Gaul, setting the stage for the reign of Charlemagne later on.

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THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE HEBREW BIBLE (OLD TESTAMENT)

The Hebrew Bible is the collection of books that form the sacred scriptures of Judaism and part of the canon also of Christians (who call it the Old Testament). The books were written primarily in Hebrew between about 850 and 165 B.C.E., though they contain earlier oral traditions as well. In this five-part lecture series, we will explore the Hebrew Bible’s historical background, including the religious, social, political, intellectual, and cultural forces that helped shape it.

1. The Origins of the People of Israel
A consideration of the most mysterious times in Israelite history. The hotly debated topic: Where did the tribes of Israel come from and when?

2. The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
The rise of the monarchy in Israel, the division of the kingdom into two, and the reigns of the most important kings.

3. The Babylonian Exile and Persian Domination
The fall of the kingdoms, the end of Israelite religion, and the beginnings of Judaism.

4. The Editorial History of the Bible
How the Hebrew Bible was put together and how to find your way through it.

5. The Bible and History
Questions concerning the historical accuracy of the Hebrew Bible will be answered.

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THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

The New Testament is a collection of twenty-seven books written in Greek by people from various places, which were written between the mid first century and the early second century. Today these books make up the second, shorter part of the Christian Bible. In this five-part lecture series, we will explore the New Testament’s historical background, including the religious, social, political, intellectual, and cultural forces that helped shape it. Doing so will help us to understand how a group of peasants on the outlying fringes of the Roman Empire ended up transforming the ancient Mediterranean and later the world. We will see examples of how early Christian leaders adopted and adapted the message of Jesus for their respective audiences and about some of the infighting and political wranglings among these leaders.

1. The Jewish Background of Christianity

The Jews, their society and their religion form a significant historical context for the foundation of Christianity. In this presentation, elements of Judaism, which had an impact on the formation of the New Testament documents, will be examined. What was the political scene like in Judea during the lives of Jesus and the apostles? What was the religious climate? What ideas were being shared at this time? Who was Jesus, and what can we know about him from a historical standpoint?

2. The Apostolic Period

Very soon after Jesus’ death, his followers founded a religious community, which sought to preserve and propagate his ideas, as well as some of their own. For about two decades, their message was passed on without writing. What effect did this oral transmission have on the message? During the 50’s, our earliest extant documents from the New Testament were penned by the apostle Paul. What do we learn about Christian beliefs, practices, organization, and concerns from his letters? And then what effect did the Roman-Jewish War of 66-73 have on the church?

3. Greco-Roman Influences on Christianity

With the great influx of Gentiles (non-Jews) into the Christian community, a culture quite different from Jewish culture began to have an effect on the churches. In this lecture, we will explore contemporary Greek and Roman religious views and practices, which will help us to see more clearly the sort of influence Hellenistic and Roman culture might have had on the development of early Christianity, and also to understand why the Greeks and Romans may have reacted to Christianity as they did.

4. The Gospel Period

During the late first century, the earliest Christian Gospels were written down. Each Gospel is its own reflective compilation written in and for a particular community of believers. They express the understandings, concerns, and views of a Christian community at the time of writing. Therefore a consideration of them will shed much light on what was going on in certain churches of this period. We will look for clues in the Gospels as to their social context, circumstances, and purpose, so that we may understand the churches of this period more fully.

5. The Generation of the Fathers

In this final lecture, we will consider the latest of the New Testament writings and the circumstances of their composition. This is the period when the apostles were no more, and a new generation of leaders took up the mantle. How did these new voices shape the church? At this time, when Christians began to distance themselves from Jews, the Roman government became aware of them, and significant political consequences resulted. Why were Christians treated the way they were, and how did they deal with this treatment?

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