5th Edition PMBOK ® Guide–Chapter 2: Project Life Cycle (Phase Relationships)


The last post dealt with project life cycles in general. A project life cycle is when you split up a project into different phases, which for all effects and purposes each become a mini-project of their own, with their own cycle of 5 process groups from initiating to closing.

The purpose of this post is to discuss the different ways a project can be split up into phases. There are two basic categories to consider:


1. Single-Phase vs. Multi-Phase

Projects can be either single-phase, if they are relatively simple, or can be broken into several phases, in which case you have a multi-phase project.

Fig. 1 Multi-Phase Project

The points to remember about a multi-phase project are the following:

  • Each phase has a different focus; for example, when creating a new automobile, there is the computer design, the creation and testing of a prototype, and then quality assurance that the vehicle can pass regulatory compliance. Each of these phases has a different focus.
  • Each phase is a mini-project in itself that it contains the five process groups of a project. This assures create control over the process and the delivery of a clear deliverable from one phase to another.
  • The closure of one phase is like the closure of a project. It has to be formally accepted before the organization can go to the next project. This is why process 4.6 is called “Close Project of Phase”. However, if the deliverables of the project are NOT accepted, that project can be terminated at any of these points of transfer between one phase and the next. For that reason, the transfer points can be referred to as a stage gate, milestone, phase gate or review, or a kill point.

2. Sequential, Overlapping and Parallel

Now for the most part, phases are sequential. However, just like with the fast-tracking of activities in a project, phases can be made to overlap as well. Here’s an illustration of the difference. Here’s the usual arrangement of phases in a schematic form.

Fig. 2 Sequential Phases

Time Period

1

2

3

Project Phase

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 3

However, if you have to accelerate the project’s final outcome, you may try and overlap some of the phases. For example, you may have some individual modules for a software program developed in Phase 1 and then have them debugged in Phase 2, with final testing done in Phase 3.

You may want the debugging process of some of the modules to begin before they are all complete, in which case Phase 2 would start before Phase 1 is done, as in the example below:

Fig. 3. Overlapping project phases

Time Period

1

2

3

Project Phase

← Phase 1 →

 

 

←        Phase 2   →          

 

 

←  Phase 3 →

However, one important thing to remember is that overlapping phases like this can increase the risk of having to redo some of the work. This is true within a project itself, one method of schedule compression is called fast-tracking, and it involves overlapping some formerly sequential activities. It can reduce the constraint of the amount of time the project takes, but at the cost of increasing the risk. The same is true with overlapping phases.

The PMBOK® Guide does mention a third possibility, that of parallel project phases, but does not illustrate it. Here’s an schematic diagram below.

Fig. 4. Parallel project phases

Time Period

1

2

3

Project Phase

← Phase 1 →

 

← Phase 2 →

 

 

← Phase 3 →

This means that two or more phases go on simultaneously from beginning to end, and then must both be completed successfully in order for the next phase to begin. As you would expect, this has even a higher risk than the overlapping project phases would.

The next post will cover the different ways in which a multi-phase project is planned, in a predictive life cycle (totally planned beforehand), an iterative and incremental life cycle (partially planned at the beginning, with successive iterations throughout the project), and an adaptive or agile life cycle (partially planned at the beginning, with rapid iterations throughout the project).

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5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 2: Project Life Cycle (General Characteristics of Phases)


The topic of the project life cycle is a major one in the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, and so I will split it into three posts as follows.

  1. Project Life Cycle (General Characteristics of Phases)
  2. Project Life Cycle (Phase Relationships)
  3. Project Life Cycle Types (Predictive, Iterative/Incremental, Adaptive/Agile)

1. Project Life Cycle: Phases

The definition given by the PMBOK® Guide of a project life cycle is a series of phases that represent the evolution of a product, from concept through delivery, maturity, and to retirement. The reason why a large project may be broken up into phases is because it provides more control over the project and greater clarity with respect to the project deliverables.

A phase has the following characteristics:

  • It is generally sequential, that is, one phase must usually end before the next one starts.
  • It is like a mini-project, in that each phase has all five process groups from initiation through closure.

In fact, if you look at the name of the process 4.6, the last process in the Integration Knowledge Area, it is Close Project or Phase.

Some questions on the PMP or CAPM test may ask about the product life cycle, as opposed to the project life cycle. I must say that the 5th edition of the PMBOK® Guide makes this distinction somewhat clearer in its definitions than in the previous editions;

Term Definition
Product Life Cycle The series of phases that represent the evolution of a product, from concept through delivery, maturity, and to retirement.
Project Life Cycle The series of phases that a project passes through from its initiation to its closure.

The thing that these definitions have in common is that the life cycle is split up into a series of phases in each case. The thing that is different is that in the case of a product, you are dealing with the evolution of a product, and it is possible that some of these phases of a product’s life cycle, especially the design phase, may turn into a project in and of itself. But in the end, the different phases of a product’s life call for different approaches to the work, some involving projects, some involving operational work.

However, whatever the objectives of the project are, a project life cycle is just a way of better managing a project.

2. Project Life Cycle—Trends over Time

Here’s a graph that represents the cost of changes and the stakeholder influence, risk, and uncertainty during the course of a typical project life cycle.

(image taken from leadinganswers.typepad.com)

The PMBOK® Guide mentions the following principles related to this graph.

Start of Project End of Project
1. Risk and Uncertainty Greatest Least
2. Stakeholder Influence Greatest Least
3. Cost of Changes Least Greatest

The risks and uncertainty are greatest at the beginning of the project, and gradually decrease through the course of the project. This is because risks are events which may occur at different points along the way. The farther you get along the way, therefore, the more of those “risk points” have been passed, and therefore the risk decreases as you go along.

The stakeholder influence is the greatest at the beginning of the project as well, which is why the initiating and planning phase are so important. It is not the case that stakeholders will give their opinions as to what should we done less and less as the project goes along; it’s just that their ability to translate their opinions into actually changing the project will decrease as the project goes on. And why is that?

Because of the third relationship, the cost of changes as the project goes on. The cost of changes is the greatest towards the end of a project, and that is one reason why the stakeholder’s ability to influence the project decreases.

These relationships are important and they drive a lot of the reason for PMI’s focus on stakeholder management (part of the Stakeholder Management knowledge area) and on managing change requests (part of the Integration Management knowledge area).

Note, however, that the cost of the project in general does NOT follow the cost curve above. The costs of the project are low in the beginning in the initiating and planning process groups, rise to their height during the execution and monitoring & controlling process groups, and are low again towards the closing process group (after the bulk of the work has been completed). It’s only the cost of changing the project that keeps going up and up until the very end of the project.

The second and third posts in this series show how the different phases can be set up, and the different ways they can be planned, respectively.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 2: Project Teams


There are three concepts that are discussed with relationship to project teams: 1) what the various roles on the project team are, 2) dedicated vs. part-time members of the project team, and 3) virtual project teams.

1. Project Team Roles

There are those that have expertise in some aspect of developing or executing the project management plan, and then there are those that serve as a liaison with some external entity that the project must be coordinated with. Let’s take a look at the roles in these two groups:

General Role Specific Role

Role Description

Expertise 1. Project Management Staff Perform project management activities such as scheduling, budgeting, reporting and control, risk management. PMO supports this role.
2. Project Staff Perform the executing of the project to create project deliverables.
3. Supporting experts (SMEs) Perform activities to either plan or execute the project that are of a technical nature (legal, quality control, safety, logistics, etc.).
Liaison 4. User/Customer Liaison with user/customer to ensure proper delivery and validation of deliverables.
5. Seller/Supplier Liaison with seller/supplier to ensure timely receipt and acceptance of deliverables.
6. Business partner Liaison with business partners who provide specialized expertise or role in project (installation, training, customer support) .

The role of “project management staff”, sometimes referred to as “project management team”, may be confusing to some who think that “management” and “staff” cannot overlap. However, the person who is the project manager does project management, and those that assist in carrying these activities out are the “project management staff.” The “project staff” or “project team” are the ones doing the executing of the project.

2. Dedicated vs. part-time

Some members of the project team devote 100% of their time to that project, and these are referred to as “dedicated” members. “Part-time” members, on the other hand, may work on multiple projects. Microsoft Project, and other project management software, have options to deal with both levels of involvement with the project.

3. Virtual teams

More and more teams, especially those in an international setting, are virtual teams, that is those that have contact only online. A project manager’s normal challenges when it comes to communication on a project are magnified in the situation where there is a virtual team involved.

For some discussion of how a project manager should manage virtual teams, check out this related post on an Economist Intelligence Unit webinar dealing with this very topic:

https://4squareviews.com/2012/10/03/working-together-how-to-manage-virtual-teams-across-borders-an-economist-webinar/

The next post will discuss a very important concept in the PMBOK® Guide, that of the project life cycle.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 2: Stakeholders


 1. Stakeholder definition

 The definition of stakeholders is very broad in the PMBOK® Guide:

Stakeholder: An individual, group or organization who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity or outcome of the project.

 2.   Three Groups of Stakeholders

Let’s consider first the scope of the definition. The first group of stakeholders to be considered are those within the project, i.e., the project team. The second group of stakeholders are those outside of the project, but within the organization. This group includes the sponsor, functional managers, and organizational groups. Then there is the third group that are outside of the organization. This group includes business partners, sellers or suppliers, customers or users, government regulators and possibly other entities as well.

So stakeholders may not necessarily be involved in the project, but their interests may be affected by the project either positively or negatively. It is important to take the negative stakeholders into account on a project. A local environmental group could be considered a negative stakeholder for a new refinery project for example, because they could protest against the project. A government regulatory authority might also be a negative stakeholder if the new project is found now to conform to governmental regulations.

Now there is a diagram of all the stakeholders in the 5th edition PMBOK® Guide page 31. The diagram was complete in that it listed all of the categories of stakeholders; however, it was a bit confusing because it lumped together all of the stakeholders that were external to the project itself, whether they were within the company or outside of it.

I think my way of dividing the stakeholders into three groups, internal to the project, internal to the organization, and external to the organization, is perhaps a bit better in helping understand how the various stakeholders can affect a project.

3.  Stakeholder Groups–expanded view

For an expanded view of these three groups, take a look at the following diagram representing categories of stakeholders on a project. The center circle in purple represents those stakeholders internal to the project that are actually working on the project itself. Those three circles outside of that in various shades of blue represent those stakeholders outside of the project, but within the organization; these include the sponsor, the program/portfolio managers, the functional managers and the managers of ongoing operations at an organization. The third category comprises the outer two circles in different shades of green which represent those stakeholders that are outside the organization: sellers, business partners, customers/users, and then regulatory agencies. There is a detailed explanation of each circle of stakeholders below the diagram.

Fig. 1. Categories of Stakeholders on a Project

  1. The innermost circle is that of the people actually working on the project, namely the Project Manager, the Project Management Team (the other members of the team that assist with the management of the project), and the Project Team members who actually do the work.
  2. The second circle is that of the Sponsor, the person or group that provides the financial resources for the project and the one who champions the project within the organization when it is first conceived. The Sponsor acts as a spokesperson to higher levels of management within the organization, which is why I placed the Sponsor in the second circle.
  3. The third circle contains those higher-level organizers of projects, such as the program manager, who manages related projects in a coordinated way, and a portfolio manager, who manages a collection of projects or programs which may not be related in content, but which all serve the business model of the organization at large. I put them in this circle because they monitor the performance of the project and can even terminate if the business case for the project no longer holds.
  4. The next circle is still within the organization, but rather than the three inner circles that deal with project work, this circle represents the interests of the ongoing operational work, with the functional managers in charge of areas such as human resources, finance, accounting, and procurement. Depending on the type of organization, project managers will have to negotiate with them to allow their staff with expertise that would assist the project to work on that project for its duration. The operations management people will have to be consulted during the course of the project, because the project when completed is often handed off to them on account of the fact that they take care of normal operations and will provide long term support for the result of the project.
  5. Now we get to the circle which is outside of the organization, but one in which there is a business relationship between the organization and that stakeholder, such as business partners that may have a financial interest in the project, sellers/suppliers in the case of a B2B relationship, customers/users in the case of a B2C relationship
  6. The last circle consists of elements of society that may not have any formal relationship to the organization, but which may contain groups that are affected by the project or that can influence the project. The PMBOK® Guide labels this group generically as “Other Stakeholders”, but I have put an example of “Regulatory Agencies” as just one type of entity that could be considered a stakeholder. A non-governmental organization such as an environmental awareness group that is an NGO would also be an example of a stakeholder at this level.

These concentric circles, I believe, show a little more of the different kinds of stakeholders and why some of them have more influence than others. I found this diagram helpful for our group to gain awareness of the different types of stakeholders, and I hope that it is helpful for those studying for the PMP exam as well.

History of Christianity: Lecture Three—Ancient Judaism


This is a summary of the third part of twenty-four in the course on the New Testament presented by The Teaching Company. The lectures in this course are by Prof. Bart D. Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His expertise is in the Greco-Roman cultural environment of early Christianity and the textual criticism of the New Testament. For those who are interested in purchasing this course and listening to the complete lectures, please go to http://www.thegreatcourses.com.

1. Judaism and other Ancient Religions.

In order to understand early Christianity in its historical context, we need to understand the pagan religions of the Greco-Roman world, which were covered in Lecture Two, and ancient Judaism, which is covered in this lecture.

Judaism is often portrayed by modern scholars as having been unlike any other ancient religious tradition, but this is not the case. If it were totally unlike any other ancient religion, it wouldn’t have even recognized as a religion. Judaism was like other religions of the ancient world in many respects, although it was also different in many ways. It had some similarities.

2. Similarities between Ancient Judaism and Ancient Paganism

Similarity #1: Hierarchical Divine Realm

Ancient Judaism was like paganism in that ancient Jews believed in a divine realm that was inhabited by one supreme God, but which contained other divine beings of lesser orders like archangels, cherubim, seraphim, angels and demons. Judaism and Paganism both conceived of a Divine Realm which could be structured hierarchically like a pyramid with the one supreme God at the top.

Similarity #2: Sacred Places of Worship

Jews, like Pagans, had special sacred places where worship of the Divine took place in the form of sacrifices to be done and prayers to be recited.

Similarity #3: Cultic Acts

Jews, like Pagans, saw worship as principally involving cultic acts such as animal sacrifices and prayers in accordance with their ancient tradition. These cultic acts were meant to propitiate God and were meant to demonstrate their religious devotion.

Similarity #4: Present Life

Jews, like Pagans, were principally interested in life in the present rather than life after death. God was particularly interested in this world and how people lived within it.

3. Differences between Ancient Judaism and Ancient Paganism

There were, however, significant differences between Ancient Judaism and other religions, although it also true that there was significant diversity even with Ancient Judaism itself.

Difference #1: Monotheistic vs. Polytheistic

Possibly the most important difference between ancient Judaism and ancient Paganism was that Judaism was monotheistic. Some pagans thought there was one supreme god over all others, but Jews took this one step further: there was only one God who was to be worshipped, the God that created the universe. This God was more powerful than all the other gods. Most Jews at an early period in their religious history did believe in the existence of other gods. Evidence of this can be found in the Ten Commandments of the Hebrew Bible, where it says, “thou shalt have no other gods before me.” This presupposes that other gods existed; they just weren’t supposed to be worshipped ahead of the God of Israel. By the time of the 1st century AD, however, many Jews had come to believe that there was really was only real ultimate God.

This God was not the God of a particular locality, as many pagan deities were. Originally, the Jewish God may have been conceived of a local deity, namely, the deity of the land of Judah. The name “Judaism” comes from the fact that Jews came from Judah. When Jews became dispersed outside of their home land of Judah, they continued to worship the God of Judah and were known by others as “Jews”. By the 1st century AD, this God was not thought to be a local deity, but a universal God. This God was far beyond the conception of what humans could imagine, and was so holy, and so distinct from everyone else, that not even name could be pronounced. Jews therefore spelled God’s name therefore in a way that couldn’t be pronounced. This is the famous Tetragrammaton or “four letters” ( יהוה in Hebrew) which consist of God’s personal name that can never be pronounced.

Difference #2: Covenantal vs. Non-covenantal relation with deity

Ancient Jews believed that God entered a covenant of pact with humanity that he would agree to protect mankind if they agreed to worship him in the ways he instructed them. This covenant that was described in the Hebrew Bible was made between God and the father of the Jews, Abraham, but confirmed under Moses, the great savior of Israel, whom God had raised up to deliver his people out of their slavery in Egypt.

Difference #3: Laws vs. Rituals

After Moses led the Jews out of Egypt, God gave him his laws on Mount Sinai. This was the law that was to direct the worship and communal life of the people of Israel. The law comprises the third major distinction between Judaism and Paganism. The law of Moses represented the covenantal obligation of the Jews to God.

This law came to be embedded in writings, particularly the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, which are simply called the Torah as a group. The word Torah means “guidance” or “direction” or “Law”. Sometimes the books of the Torah are referred to by their Greek name, the Pentateuch, meaning “five scrolls” in Greek.

Many Christians in the modern world do not understand the importance of the Law within Judaism. Many Christians have been raised to think of the Law as some sort of undoable list of dos and don’ts which had to be followed for salvation, but which couldn’t be followed for salvation, so Jews were stuck with a law they couldn’t keep which therefore led them into damnation.

In fact, Jews themselves never saw the Law as undoable list of dos and don’ts . Instead, the Law was seen by most Jews as the greatest gift God had ever given to humans. This was God’s direction on how to worship Him and on how Jews could live together in their communities. Jews saw the law as the greatest joy, because following the Law meant yielding oneself to the all powerful and loving God who ruled the universe and called his people out of their slavery. Following the Law was not a requirement for salvation for ancient Jews; following the Law was the response to the salvation that God had already given his people. Included in the Law, of course, were not just the Ten Commandments, but also laws that were designed to make the Jews distinct from other peoples. Jews, for example, circumcised their baby boys. They were not to work one day in the week on the Sabbath. They were to observe special food laws referred as “keeping kosher”, such as not eating pork or shrimp.

Difference #4: Distinctive Temple vs. Multiple Temples

Jews had distinctive places of worship; Jews in the first century AD especially worshipped in the temple in Jerusalem. Pagan religions had many temples where sacrifices could be made and prayers said to the gods; Jews had only one temple where sacrifices could be performed, a temple that was located, in accordance with the Law itself, in the city of Jerusalem. This temple was a particularly large and glorious place in the days of Jesus. The ten-story high walls that surrounded the temple encompassed an area that was large enough to place 25 American football fields. The inner parts of the Temple were magnificently done; in the days of Jesus, parts of it were overlaid with gold. It was an extremely expensive and glorious site that Jews would come from all over the world to visit and worship in. This was the only place in Judaism where animal sacrifices could be offered to God. Moreover, since animal sacrifices were so much a part of the religion, the Temple was the central place for all Jewish worship.

Jews would come from all over the world especially at times of annual festivals like the Passover Feast, which commemorated the exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt under Moses. Most Jews in the first century AD, of course, didn’t live anywhere near Jerusalem, but had scattered throughout the Mediterranean during different periods of foreign conquest. Since the temple was so remote for most Jews that they could never go there, there developed by the time of the New Testament a practice of having local places of worship called synagogues. The word synagogue is a Greek term meaning “a gathering together,” so the synagogue was a place where Jews could gather together for prayer and the study of Torah. At this time, a synagogue could be formed wherever there was a quorum of 10 adult men. There were no sacrifices performed in the synagogue; instead, the synagogue was a place of prayer and the reading and interpretation of Torah undertaken on the Jewish day of rest, the Sabbath.

This describes some of the basic features of Judaism, how it is both similar to and different from Paganism. Here is a summary of these features.

Fig. 1 Similarities and Differences between Ancient Judaism and Ancient Paganism

Ancient Judaism Ancient Paganism
1. Similarities Hierarchical divine realm Hierarchical divine realm
2. Sacred places of worship Sacred places of worship
3. Cultic acts Cultic acts
4. Present life Present life
5. Differences Monotheistic Polytheistic
6. Covenant Non-covenant
Laws Rituals
Distinctive temple Multiple temples

4. The Diversity of Judaism: Four Major Groups

Many people make the mistake of thinking that Judaism at this time was some sort of monolith, that there was one thing called Judaism. In fact, Judaism in the first century AD was no more monolithic than modern Christianity is today. People are more widely aware of the diversity of modern Christianity. There are similarities between Greek Orthodox priests and Appalachian snake-handlers, but in fact there a lot of differences too that are often a lot more striking. Ancient Judaism in many ways was even more diverse than modern Christianity. Prof. Ehrman does not have time in this lecture to elucidate all the diversity in ancient Judaism, but is going to illustrate it by talking about some of the major aspects of Judaism that we know about that represent its diversity.

One way to talk about the diversity of Judaism is to talk about the four major groups that we know about from the time of Jesus. It is not the case that every Jew belonged to one of these four groups. There were Jews that believed in all sort of strange things that don’t sound much like what we would think of as Judaism. These four groups, on the other hand, believed in the same basic tenets of Judaism, although there were striking differences among them. The four groups are the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and what is called the “fourth philosophy.”

a. The Pharisees

The best-known group were the Pharisees. The word “Pharisees” probably comes from a Persian word meaning “separated ones.” This group were referred to as Pharisees because they were separated off from other people because of their holiness. Pharisees have been widely misunderstood in modern Christian circles. Many people associate the word “Pharisee” with “hypocrite”; in fact, in some modern dictionaries, one of the tertiary definitions of “Pharisee” is a “hypocrite.” It’s an interesting designation that is comparable to having a dictionary in 2,000 years refer to Episcopalians as “drunkards” or Baptists as “adulterers.” Of course, there probably are drunkards among Episcopalians and adulterers among Baptists, but defining them in those terms is a little bit odd. The same holds true with Pharisees. They were not professional hypocrites; they didn’t have to take a “Hypocritic Oath” to become a Pharisee. The Pharisees were in fact a highly committed group of Jews who believed in following the Torah or God’s Law absolutely as far as possible. They believed that the Law had been given by God to directly the people of Israel; therefore, this Law had to be followed. It was the blueprint, in a sense, for how people ought to live their lives. The problem with the Law of Moses for many Jews in the first century was that this Law is not explicit in how it ought to be followed, and in many places it is completely ambiguous.

For example, the Law says that a person is honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Well, what does that mean and how does one do it? Most Jews thought that you shouldn’t work on the Sabbath. Fine, but what does it mean “to work”? If you’re a farmer, working would probably involve harvesting your crops, so you shouldn’t harvest crops on the Sabbath. What if you’re not really harvesting your crops, but you just want something to eat and you go into your fields and pick some grain. Is that “work” or not? Some people think that would comparable to harvesting, and some wouldn’t. Well, a decision has to be made: if you’re to keep the Sabbath holy, are you allowed to go into the field on the Sabbath and eat grain? Some people would say “yes”, and some people would say “no.” What if you go through the field on the Sabbath and you don’t actually eat the grain, but you knock some of the grain off? Is that permitted? Well, on the one hand, that’s kind of like harvesting, because you’re taking the grain from the stalk. On the other hand, it’s obviously not “work”, so is it permitted or not? Pharisees were concerned to make the right decisions, and so they developed a set of laws that are sometimes called the “oral laws” that would help them interpret the written law from the Torah of Moses. These oral laws and the debates about these laws were eventually written down nearly 200 years after Jesus in a book that is now called the Mishnah, which is the heart of the Jewish collection of lore and learning called the Talmud. The Pharisees were behind the collection of these oral laws that were intended to help Jews follow the written laws of Moses. There was nothing necessarily hypocritical about this particular activity; they simply wanted to do what God had told them to do. In short, in their religious outlook, Pharisees stressed the Law.

b. The Sadducees

The Pharisees were sometimes opposed by the second group referred to as the Sadducees who did not subscribe to the oral law. We are not well informed about the Sadducees because none of them left us any writings. It does appear, though, that the Sadducees were made up of the upper-class aristocracy of the Jews. Many of them appeared to be priests in the Jewish temple, and since they comprised the aristocracy, many of them served as a kind of liaison with the ruling power, the Romans. In their religious outlook, since the Sadducees were connected with the Temple, Sadducees appeared to have stressed temple sacrifice and the need to perform sacrifices as God had prescribed within the law. So you have Pharisees stressing the oral law, and the Sadducees who don’t accept the Pharisees’ oral law, but who instead stress sacrifice in the temple.

c. The Essenes

The third group is simply called the Essenes. Ironically, the Essenes are the one group of the four that are not mentioned in the New Testament, but are nevertheless the group about which we are most informed about because of recent archaeological discoveries. The Essenes were a group of highly religious Jews who believed that the rest of the people of Israel had fallen away from God and had become impure. Essenes worked to improve their own ritual purity apart from the impurity of those around them. Occasionally they founded their own monastic communities where they could live together and worship God. One such monastic community was located in a place called Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. The Dead Sea Scrolls were a library of an Essene community located to the northwest of the Dead Sea. This library has been significant for a number of reasons; for one thing, it included some very ancient texts of the Hebrew Bible. In fact, the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible found in the Dead Sea Scrolls are a thousand years earlier than other surviving manuscripts that we have from the Hebrew Bible, so they are extremely important in reconstructing what the original Hebrew Bible might have said.

Even more important for our context, the Dead Sea Scrolls contain documents produced for and by this Essene community itself, so that by reading these documents, we can discover what rules this community followed in its communal life together. The books also contain hymnals, books of psalms, commentaries on scripture, and prophetic descriptions of future events. In their religious outlook, the Essenes stressed the need to maintain their own purity in view of the fact that the world as they knew it was soon to come to a crashing halt. They believed that God was going to intervene in history, overthrow the forces of evil, including forces that had inspired many Jews, the Jewish leaders, especially their enemies the Sadducees.

d. The Fourth Philosophy
The fourth group of Jews is sometimes simply called the “fourth philosophy.” This fourth philosophy comprised a number of groups of Jews who believed that God had given them the land of Israel, who also believed that since a foreign power dominated the land, that God had given them the authorization and the power to overthrow the domineering force. In other words, the fourth philosophy proposed to engage in violent resistance to foreign powers dominating the land.

Eventually, the fourth philosophy had its way. In the year 66 AD, just a generation after Jesus’ death, there was a revolt that broke out against the Romans leading to a three and a half year war that ended in the destruction of Jerusalem. The religious outlook of the fourth philosophy centered on the Jewish homeland as given to the Jewish people that should not be ruled by any foreign power.

5. Jewish Apocalypticism

Prof. Ehrman is going to conclude this lecture with one particular kind of Jewish perspective that has proved particularly important for understanding the historical Jesus and the New Testament. This is a perspective that scholars called ancient Jewish Apocalypticism. We know about Jewish Apocalypticism from a number of ancient sources, including some books of the Hebrew Bible like the book of Daniel and some non-Biblical books including those of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This appears to be a widespread form of belief among ancient Jews, held by some Pharisees, some Essenes, and by others.

The major tenets of this form of Judaism are as follows:

a. Dualism

Apocalyptics held to a dualistic view of the world; they believed there were two fundamental components of reality, the forces of good and the forces of evil, and that everybody aligns himself with one or the other of these forces. Moreover, history itself was seen dualistically. They believed that there were living in an evil age, ruled by the forces of evil, including the devil and demons, sin, disease and death—these were all powers that were opposed to them in this world. But they believed there was an age that was coming that was going to be filled with good, an age in which God will overthrow the forces of evil and establish his good kingdom here on Earth. So to sum up, apocalyptics were dualists, believing in two cosmic forces of good and evil, and in two ages, the current evil age and the age of good to come.

b. Pessimism

Apocalyptics were pessimists; they didn’t believe there was much possibility of improving life in this world through human effort. The forces of evil were in control of this age and they were going to make life worse and worse.

c. Day of Judgment

God was going to vindicate his name at the end of this age. There was a day of Judgment coming in which God would judge this world and overthrow the forces of evil. All people would be judged; not just those who were alive but also those who had died. People shouldn’t think that they can side with the forces of evil and prosper, rise to the top of the heap, and then die and get away with it; God isn’t going to allow it. At the end of this age, there is going to be a resurrection of the dead when God would force all people to face judgment, either for reward or for punishment. He would then bring in his good kingdom.

d. Imminence

When would this happen? This coming Judgment of God was imminent; it would happen very soon, and was in fact right around the corner. In the words of one famous Jewish Apocalypticist of the first century, “truly I tell you some of you standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come in power.” These, in fact, are the words of Jesus, one of the best-known Jewish Apocalypticists from the first century. “Truly I tell you,” says Jesus, “this generation will not pass away before all these things take place.” Apocalypticism is going to be a very important aspect of Judaism for us to consider in the context of the New Testament.

6. Conclusion
If we’re to understand Jesus and the New Testament, we have to situate it within its own historical context of first century Judaism. Jews were like Pagans in many respects, but they were also distinct, especially in their emphasis on monotheism with its one God, the Law that He gave, the covenant that He gave. In addition, they had a distinctive place of worship. The diversity of Judaism is represented in the four major parties: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Fourth Philosophy, but we have especially seen one of the distinctive emphases of Judaism, that of Jewish Apocalypticism, a view that dominated the teachings not only of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other works of the time, but the teachings of Jesus and his followers.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey to Childhood and Back Again


This week I finally got to see The Hobbit, a movie which rekindled a childhood memory of reading my first fantasy novel, and reignited my memory of the Lord of the Rings movie that came out a decade ago. There were a couple of themes in the movie that really resonated with me at this time in my life and echoed the feelings I had when I first read the book.

1. Mythic Geography

The Native Americans often used the North as their direction of mystey and danger in many of their myths, such as the Navajo myth “Where the Two Came to their Father” recounted by Joseph Campbell. The reason for this is because the North is the direction where the sun often “hides” in the wintertime and for that reason the North gained a special significance as the source of the Father Sun in the myth mentioned above.

In the Hobbit, I think Tolkien is tapping into an almost racial memory in England of the West as the direction of home and familiar surroundings, whereas the East is considered to be a land of mystery and danger because of the many invasions that came from that direction throughout the course of its history. You can see that mythic geography concretely in the following map of Middle Earth from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings

Notice how the Shire, the home of the Hobbits is towards the West of Middle Earth, whereas Mordor, the dangerous kingdom of Sauron, is towards the East.

As an interesting sidelight, Prof. Richard Bulliet of Columbia University in his lectures on the Middle East notes that in the Muslim world south of the Mediterranean, as opposed to the Christian world north of the Mediterranean, the cultural significance of the terms East and West are precisely reversed, namely the East is the land of the strange and unknown in Europe, whereas the West is the land of the strange and unknown in the Islamic World.   See my following post for more details:

https://4squareviews.com/2012/06/07/history-of-the-modern-middle-east-lecture-3-geography-and-inequality-part-3/

When I saw the movie, I could tell that the same mythic geography was in play that was in the movie, because the party of dwarves and the wizard Gandalf whom Bilbo Baggins joins get into more trouble and danger the farther they go towards the East.

2. The Call To Adventure

When my Dad was younger, he travelled from his home town of St. Louis to Chicago to become a newspaper reporter, and then he went to Miami, Florida, then Washington, D.C., and then over to Germany at the time of the Korean War. Afterwards, he returned to Chicago where he met my mother and started to raise a family. He wanted to get a Master’s Degree in Economics, and study over in the London School of Economics, but frankly I stopped him. How? I was born, that’s how. When the second child came around, my Mother and Father realized that they could not afford to move to England, but decided to temper my father’s ambitions by having him enter the University of Chicago instead. As I learned this family history as I grew older, I felt a little guilty at having been the cause of the diminution of my father’s ambitions.

But later in life, I found that as I myself went over to Germany after my undergraduate years, and then worked in Japan for over five years after graduate school, that my own adventures were paralleling my Dad’s travels in the world earlier in his life. And one year when I visited my father at Christmastime from where I was living in Tokyo, he said that hearing the tales of my adventures in Japan rekindled his own memories of the adventures he had living overseas when he was younger. So rather than seeing myself as the cause of the end of my father’s adventures, I realized that in a certain way, I was the means for him continuing to adventure vicariously through the tales of my own travels. I was struck by the fact that Bilbo Baggins’ adventures ended up being the source of his nephew Frodo’s own ambitions to travel and recalled how my Dad and I have been an inspiration for the other at points of our lives to explore and be interested in the wide world beyond the borders of our little Shire (Chicago).

3. The Unexpected Adulthood

As a youngster reading the Hobbit, a half-size person joining the adventures of dwarves, men and others even larger than life such as wizards, I felt very much like Bilbo Baggins did, as I imagined my impending entry into adulthood, that I too was going on an adventure where I would be so much out of my own depth. When Bilbo Baggins became the unlikely companion and helper of someone as great as the dwarven warrior Thorin Oakenshield, I empathized with him and thought that I too could join the world of adults and somehow find my place among them. When I saw the movie, however, almost 45 years after reading the book, I realized that this time I empathized with Thorin Oakenshield a lot more because I too found myself in life struggling with the role of being a leader. In the scene in the movie where Thorin Oakenshield gave a hug of gratitude to Bilbo Baggins for rashly rushing in and saving his life towards the end of the movie, it gave me a strange feeling like I was embracing my much younger self from years ago.

4. Reaching beyond the Comfort Zone

Towards the end, Bilbo Baggins expressed to the dwarves why he ended up staying with them on their journey despite his desire to return home when the adventure got to be a lot more dangerous than he bargained for. He helped the dwarves because frankly, they had no home and were on a quest to recover theirs, and his sympathy for them moved him to go on the adventure with them. This resonated with me because I too wanted to stay within my own familiar boundaries of the job I used to have, but when a company layoff made me have to an “unexpected journey” of my own to find a new job and eventually a new career, I found that the thing that kept me going and helping others was the fact that they too had no job and my volunteer work helping them lent some meaning and purpose to the adventure I was on.

5. The Endarkenment

At the time when the Hobbit takes place in Middle Earth, the land is being overtaken by an evil presence, and there are many Hobbits who are oblivious to the danger. Only those with contacts with the outside world, like Bilbo Baggins has with Gandalf, see the magnitude of the danger. But knowing the truth about the extent of the endarkenment (the opposite of the enlightenment) of the land, that it indeed affects everyone, is the first step in banding with others to try to stop it. If you think it is only happening over there, your instinct is to try to wall yourself off from it, hunker down, and ignore the suffering of those who are facing it somewhere else. There is a tendency to think of the Gandalf tries to get Thorin Oakenshield to stop thinking of the elves as the enemies of the dwarves, by making him realize that their true enemy, the dragon Smaug which has overtaken his home in the Misty Mountains, can only be defeated by cooperation with the elves. In a similar way, when the economic catastrophe facing the nation seem to effect everybody, the tendency I feel is not to be more selfish and fight for my own survival alone, but rather to have even more compassion for those less off than myself. Why? Because I know than all of us have been affected by the economic downturn, and the same attitude of neighbor helping neighbor that helped my father’s generation weather the economic storm of the Great Depression will help our generation weather the storm we are facing now.

Conclusion

Because of the themes mentioned above, I could relate the Hobbit to my life now that I would have thought possible for the dramatization of a so-called children’s book. The Lord of the Rings came out right after the tragedy of 9/11 and its tale of adventure and heroism was a great bolster of my own courage in those days, and now a decade later the prequel of that great trilogy is bolstering my courage even now to see my experience trying to stay afloat not as a grim tale of survival, but rather as a call to adventure that echoes the naïve optimism of my boyhood when I first read The Hobbit.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 2: Enterprise Environmental Factors


In my post two days ago, I introduced the two “ubiquitous” inputs to processes, in the sense that they are used as inputs to many, many processes: Organizational Process Assets, the processes, policies, and corporate body of knowledge of an organization, and the Environmental Enterprise Factors, the internal company culture and the societal environment in which the organization does business. Yesterday I talked about Organizational Process Assets or OPAs; today I will talk about Environmental Enterprise Factors or EEFs.

Enterprise Environmental Factors differ from OPAs mainly in the fact that they are conditions not under the control of the project team. OPAs are either processes or procedures, or a corporate knowledge base, which a project team has a limited amount of control over as part of the organization. EEFs can have a positive or negative influence on the outcome of a project, just like stakeholders can.

The PMBOK® Guide gives a laundry list of 13 different EEFs. Let’s see if I can introduce a conceptual scheme that may help sort some of these out in your mind.

There are two dimensions of EEFs: one is whether they are internal or external to the organization. An example of an internal EEF would be the organizational culture; an example of an external EEF would be government or industry standards.

Another dimension is whether they are tangible or intangible. A physical system or en electronic one is considered tangible in this definition; a system of values or ethics is one is that considered intangible in this definition. An example of a tangible EEF would be the organization’s communication channels; an example of an intangible EEF would be the stakeholder risk tolerances.

Let’s put these two dimensions together in the following way: let the internal vs. external dimension be the vertical dimension, and the tangible vs. intangible be the horizontal dimension. Then the intersection of these makes a quadrant, with the following four possibilities among the two dimensions:

Given this conceptual scheme, let me now put the 13 EEFs listed in chapter 2 of the PMBOK® Guide in their proper place.

If you do a count of the above, you find out that I have listed 14. This is because I listed one EEF, stakeholder risk tolerances, twice. I did this because stakeholders can be either internal OR external to an organization, and so they needed therefore to be in two categories. Now you could argue on philosophical grounds about the placement of various EEFs, but the point is to notice what each group of EEFs have in common. Notice that human resources as an EEF refers to the people themselves, as opposed to Human Resources as a department, with its own rules and guidelines; that would be covered under Personnel Administration.

An important point to understand about EEFs is that even if an EEF is listed as being internal to the organization according to the scheme above, it is still not under the control of the project team because it is external to the project, like what human resources are available for any particular project.    Those must negotiated for by the project manager.

Giving this chart a quick review will help you understand a) WHY a particular factor is an EEF, and b) the type of EEF it is under the conceptual scheme above which will help you understand HOW it affects the project. The internal factors will affect a project in a more easily understandable way than the external factors (like the political climate), but those external factors still need to be taken under consideration. The tangible factors will also affect a project in a more easily understandable way (like the communication channels available to a project), but the intangible factors (risk tolerances) likewise still need to be taken under consideration.

The next two days I will be blogging about other topics, but starting next Monday, January 28th, I will continue the series of blog posts on chapter 2 of the PMBOK® Guide with an eye towards finishing the chapter by the end of January. Then the fun of learning all the 47 project management processes begins in Chapter 3!