The Cardo Maximus (or Roman equivalent of Market St.) runs right through the old city of Jerusalem from the Damascus gate right past the Wailing Wall area, and on to the gate at the other side of the old town. It has been there since Roman times, which is to say, basically since this was turned into Aelia Capitolina in the 2nd century after the second Jewish revolt, and the banishing of Jews. Until 1967 there were various occupations and… Read more

There are actually not that many places where one can say with certainty ‘I’m walking where Jesus and Paul once walked’, but the steps leading up into the Temple is one of those places. Here’s Leen Ritmeyer’s reconstruction of what it looked like in Jesus and Paul’s day…. The area I’m referring to is in the bottom left of that picture, the steps leading up to the entrance way into the Temple Mount. Nearby were mikvehs, ceremonial purity baths such… Read more

And now for something completely different. It’s been over two decades since there has been a film about Asians featuring just Asians (do you remember the Joy Luck Club?). If you were pining for such a film, well your long nightmare is over. And the movie is quite good. What it is not is a rom-com, in the traditional sense. There are a few funny scenes, but it’s far more romance than comedy to be sure, for the full two… Read more

While all roads do not lead to Jerusalem and its environs, that’s where we must go for the next few posts. We start with St. Peter in Galicantu or St. Peter’s of the Cockcrow church. This is one of those locales which probably corresponds to where Jesus was held, at the house of Caiaphas in a holding cell. You can still see the Roman steps that went down to the Kidron valley, and on to the garden of Gethsemane area……… Read more

The Golan Heights are at present occupied by Israel, but they used to belong to Syria and Jordan. Biblically this area is important because over here on this side of the lake was Gerasa territory, and Gadara village, and one or the other is the locale where Jesus exorcised the man who had a legion of demons in him. Here’s the view looking towards the lake from the Golan…. The Israelis have been busy bees over here since they took… Read more

Certainly one of my favorite sites to visit is another Caesarea, Caesarea Philippi in the far north, where Peter made his confession that Jesus was the Christ. The important point is…. this was not in Israel. In fact, it was in a pagan city originally named for the Greek god Pan. It was one of the ten cities of the Greek Decapolis, and later Herod Philip’s capital. Here there were pagan temples, and statues of Greek and Roman gods and… Read more

The Gospels suggest that Jesus made Kefer Nahum (the village of Nahum)=Capernaum his home away from home. The house of Peter’s mother-in-law seems to have been the spot where he visited and stayed and today that house appears to be the one underneath the Fransican boat-shaped modern church. As you enter the site, there is a new visitor awaiting you….a homeless figure lying on a bench, which upon closer examination has a hole in his foot, and is Jesus. This… Read more

Certainly one of the most tranquil and beautiful sites near the Sea of Galilee is the so-called Mt. of Beatitudes. We honestly do not know exactly where Jesus taught the beatitudes, but the indications are it was somewhere bigger than this locale, since there was a large crowd involved. It doesn’t much matter, this is a fine place to contemplate the meaning of Jesus’ counter intuitive eschatological beatitudes. Here’s the view….. The Franciscans and other Catholic orders do nice work… Read more

Perhaps you have heard of the amazing discovery of a decorated torah table at the Migdal dig. It is now safely ensconced in the Israeli museum, but a full size replica can be viewed at the site. Most scholars think the table would have been used to roll out a Biblical scroll on, for the reading during the synagogue service, and I agree that is likely. Note the menorah as well as the floral patterns on the carved stone table…. Read more

Certainly one of the most important digs in all of Israel in recent years, is the dig at Migdal, or Magdala, the home of the Mary we call Magdalene. Migdal means tower in Hebrew, but this was a thriving fishing village, complete we a fish pickle factory, making garum, the relish everyone loved to put on their food. First we will examine the beautiful chapel the Franciscans are building on the site….. There are little chapels in the alcoves of… Read more

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