The Pilgrimage: Israel, Part Nine

There was a day when some more radical scholars were denying the existence of synagogue buildings in the first century, until Lee Levine and others put that myth to rest. We will be talking about the new find of the synagogue at Migdal in a later post, but here we get to look at the re-created one at Nazareth Village. Most ancient buildings, including synagogues did not have conventional windows, though they might have sky lights of a sort, but otherwise most of the light came in through the … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Eight

Among the other interesting features of Nazareth Village is the watchtower, where a villager would watch to protect the town from predators both human and animalThere is also a cave tomb to be seen here...In the back of the tomb are niches, where ossuaries, or bone boxes, could be placed.There are traditional trades to be viewed, such as wood-working, and dying of cloth. Of course the word tekton, means a craftsman, and it can be in stone or wood. No guarantee Jesus was a … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Seven

Ah viticulture. The making of wine is a very ancient practice indeed, and yes it was fermented, so yes it was alcoholic, though we are not sure just how strong it was. The process of making wine involved of course the picking of the grapes when ripe, and then the stomping of them. But here's the thing.... you need to be barefoot and you need to gently step on them so the juice will flow out into the trough, and down into the basin below. Otherwise you lose too much of the precious grape … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Six

Modern day Nazareth is nothing like the little village Jesus knew, as you can see from this picture. But fortunately, you can go to Nazareth and have an experience of what it might have been like to visit Jesus' home town if you visit Nazareth village, right in the middle of town. Built on the grounds where the old YMCA used to be, Nazareth Village is a re-creation village, somewhat like colonial Williamsburg. Here you run into first century shepherding, agriculture, wood-working, … [Read more...]

Godfather Ben starring in Apocalypse Soon

Who knew that when I went to film a course for Logos in Everett Washington, they would turn me into the Godfather? I suppose they thought that when they offered my course on Johannine Literature they were making ya'll an offer you couldn't (or shouldn't refuse) :) :) … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Five

There is still today considerable debate as to which little town named Qana (Cana) in the north is Biblical Cana, of wedding fame. It may be Kirbet Qana, but that is not the traditional site, and we visited the traditional site which has a lovely Catholic Church, and an even more lovely little wedding chapel....not far from the local wine salesman :)As you may remember, the Pope visited Israel and Jordan just a little after we moved on to Turkey, and these posters were up … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Four

Ah the Sea of Galilee, especially at sunrise and sunset its beautiful. If you can't get inspired there, you are a pilgrim without a pulse.(moonrise over the Golan from the Tiberias side, through the map of the lake).(sunrise over the Golan).From Megiddo we went north to Tiberias, and made that our base camp for several nights running. There's a lot to see up there. The sea of Galilee is of course misnamed. It is not even a lake as big as Lake Cumberland here in Kentucky. … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Three

Armageddon is a word that sends chills down one's spine. The word comes from Har Megiddo, the hilltop city on Megiddo. Megiddo, in the Jezreel valley was near the major routes north/south where armies marched--- Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and of course Israelites, so when a person of the Biblical world thought of a locale where there might be a major battle of world powers (like the battle of Carcar, for instance), Megiddo regularly came to mind. It is of course the 23 layered city … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Two

Mt. Carmel is an important site, both in terms of the OT and probably in terms of the NT. This is the mount which according to tradition Elijah had his victory over the prophets of Baal (see statue above next to the Carmelite monastery). It is possible that this, and not Mt. Hermon or Mt. Gilboa was the mount of Transfiguration. Indeed, I would say its more likely this hill, since this is by tradition the hill where Elijah had his victory, and perhaps ascended into heaven. What better place … [Read more...]