The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Eighteen

The ride through the desert (not on a horse with no name please--- it's too hot) is a long one to get to Masada, especially from Galilee where we started the day. You can however see the bluff from a great distance as you ride along beside the every dwindling Salt Sea (can you say, too much mining by the Ahava cream people?).The famous Israeli warrior turned archaeologist, Yigal Yadin was originally responsible for the dig here, and he is commemorated in the entrance building to the … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel, Part Seventeen

Our next destination as we head south to Qumran and the Dead Sea is Beth Shean/Scythopolis, or more properly speaking, just the latter. There isn't time to do both in one day. Scythopolis or the city of the Scythians (I'll let you look them up. They are mentioned in passing in the NT). This is the only city of the Decapolis, the league of ten Greek cities, that is within the traditional borders of Israel. It is a further reminder of how Hellenized Israel was long before Jesus was born. This … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Sixteen

Our next place to visit is Migdal or Magdala, the hometown of you know who. Our previous mental image of a quaint little impoverished fishing village has been completely blown out of the water by the recent excellent archaeological work done on this site. Kudos to the team. My group was fortunate enough to have Richard Bauckham (who was there at the time) to come give an excellent lecture on what has been found at Migdal.... which is to say, a considerable synagogue (which Jesus may have … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Fifteen

Unlike at Tabgha, when you get to Capernaum (the ancient name is Kefer Nahum, which means the village of the prophet Nahum) you have arrived at a spot where it is certain Jesus did a variety of things. This was his home base once the Galilean ministry started (notice for instance the end of the Cana wedding feast story, where they go down to Capernaum after the celebration). It would appear that he stayed in the home of Peter's mother-in-law (which of course means Peter was married, like the … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Fourteen

Bethsaida was the home of Peter, and Andrew, and Philip. It is today an important archaeological site dug by Rami Arav and company. But before we got there we had some lunch at St. Pete's restaurant, and when we left we discovered a hyrax climbing a tree...an interesting critter to say the least. Imagine a ground hog out on a limb...It's amazing the lengths some will go to have a tasty bit of lunch...Just to review here is a map to show you where Bethsaida is, right at the … [Read more...]

Building a Better Twenty-First Century Christian– Thoughts on Real Independence

As it becomes increasingly clear that even in America the culture is moving increasingly away from Christian ethical and theological standards of all sorts, instead of ringing our hands and ushering cries of dismay, it would be better to think about how we can best do the same thing as first century Christians did--- namely become counter culture Christians who only affirm those values of the larger culture that comport with Christianity. If there is something true, good, honorable, excellent … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Thirteen

There are many sites in Israel where the tour guides will take you, and sometimes they will and sometimes they won't say 'this is the site where, according to tradition....X took place'. You should be wary of such claims. Sometimes, as at a site like Caesarea Philippi, you know you're in the right spot, and Jesus and the gang was there. Sometimes not so much. Below is a picture taken from on the Sea of Galilee of Tabgha (right end of the picture right at the shoreline) with the cliffs of … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twelve

Certainly one of the most important sites to visit, if one wants to understand a text like Mk. 8.27-30 and its Matthean parallel is Banias or Panyas (the city of Pan) which was a Greek city Romanized by Herod Philip and renamed Caesarea Philippi. Today it is in the far north of Israel, but in Jesus' day it was a largely pagan city on the periphery of the Holy Land. And this leads to the question why in the world Jesus would take his disciples north of Galilee to a place like that in order to … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Eleven

By now the story is old news. Sea of Galilee reaches all time low ebb. First century fishing boat found in the mud near Nof Ginnosar (a kibbutz). Boat carefully extracted from the mud using space age foam. Boat cleaned, and then immersed in a liquid wax bath to hold the thing together. Problem, how to then remove the wax from the surface. Solution--- wax eating goldfish! Only problem is, they become wax goldfish! 'Look Mommy what is that dead gold thing next to the boat.... tell me it's … [Read more...]


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