Ancient Asia’s Embrace of Christianity

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 I don't think that I've called attention to this latest installment of the biweekly column that my colleague and friend Bill Hamblin and I do for the Deseret News.  It appeared on Saturday.  Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland     … [Read more...]

Sleeping at the Very Heart of the Empire

The castle of the Prince of Liechtenstein

  I've always wanted to spend the night in Liechtenstein sometime, and, finally, my dream is coming true.  My wife and I flew into Munich on the red-eye from Tel Aviv this morning -- it's a marvelous way to reclaim all the joys of jet lag while changing only one time-zone -- and are now resting in the Hotel Oberland in Triesenberg, an elevated suburb of Vaduz, the capital of the Principality.  From our balcony, we have a gorgeous view of the Rhine River in the valley b … [Read more...]

Last Day in Jerusalem

temple_mount_jerusalem

  Well, the Israeli/Palestinian segment of this lengthy overseas trip is coming to an end. I had two obligations abroad, one here and one in Europe, during June and July, but elected to hide out in the Alps -- my favorite region of the planet, in many ways -- and try to get some work done during the interval between them rather than spend the money and incur the jet lag of coming home and then flying back.  It seemed a good idea at the time, and probably still … [Read more...]

In the Old City

The Holy Sepulcher

  As our visit to Israel winds down, and the appetite of our guests here for my enraptured narratives of ancient history wanes in the withering heat, our days are becoming shorter and more relaxing. Today, we walked through the posh new Mamilla Mall to the Jaffa Gate, and into the Old City -- one of my favorite experiences here. We dipped briefly into the Armenian quarter, and then walked onto the misnamed Mount Zion, where we visited the … [Read more...]

St. Peter in Gallicantu

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  Today was a very relaxing day, as befits the sabbath.  After attending LDS services at the Jerusalem Center, we drove over to the twentieth-century Catholic church of St. Peter in Gallicantu (roughly, "St. Peter while the cock was crowing"), which sits on the slope of Mt. Zion over the traditional site of the house of the high priest Caiaphas.  There are serious experts who believe that the high priest's house would have been higher up on the … [Read more...]

Church Services in Jerusalem

BYU's Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies by Night

  We attended church at BYU's Jerusalem Center today for the first time in many years.  (Although I've been in the Center numerous times since we lived here in 1993, I can't remember our finding ourselves in Jerusalem on a sabbath since then.) It was a very good experience. Today was district conference, and an American Area Authority Seventy, a convert and former Switzerland Geneva mission president based in Abu Dhabi, was on hand to reorganize … [Read more...]

Christianity: Jewish or Gentile?

On Thursday, I published a column in the Deseret News regarding ancient Jewish messianism and the rise of Christianity. It can be found here.  Posted from Jerusalem, Israel.   … [Read more...]

A Very Difficult Promised Land

I've always been struck by the nature of the place that was given to the Hebrews as their "promised land."  And first-time visitors are often taken aback by it. Arid, hilly, rocky, caught between two major and mutually hostile riverine civilizations (of varying names but largely consistent international purposes) along the Nile and between the Tigris and the Euphrates, the land of Israel has always been vulnerable, even inviting, to attack, and has never been what many people, … [Read more...]


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