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...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Ten

After a quick lunch of Shwarma (seasoned shaved meat, usually beef these days, but traditionally lamb) and veggies on pita bread with special sauce (yummmm), we moved on to the city just over the hill from Nazareth, namely Sepphoris, to have a look at the synagogue there the one with the astrological symbols and OT stories in the mosaics on the floor.Here's how the archaeologists envisioned this 2nd century A.D. synagogue must have looked.Here is an overview schematic of … [Read more...]

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...]


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