Galilee vs. Jerusalem

I have only been here less than 24 hours, but I already feel that Galilee makes a different sort of impression, at least on a modern Christian of the liberal and/or Protestant variety.

Jerusalem exemplifies the overlay of subsequent history in the very layer upon layer of city, stone, and soil. Its churches cover over any historical traces with edifices and icons that symbolize the obscuring of history by subsequent dogma, piety and theology. It testifies clearly to the need to dig beneath the surface to get at the past, to find what you are looking for.

Galilee, on the other hand, has the sea and the Jordan River. It is not the same water, but since you never step in the same river twice, this was something that has always been true. But we can still speak of it as the same lake and the same river.

Both regions have places where he could have walked, spoken, and interacted with people. And I think it is important to try to imagine Jesus walking through the Old City of Jerusalem, being addressed by hawkers, and not merely standing in large open squares preaching.

Still, in the Galilee more seems to lie in plain sight, near the surface, just like the sarcophagi that one can see in plain view at the side of one road I drove on – neither buried by the ages and hidden from view, nor carried off to a museum.

Nevertheless, everywhere you walk in the Holy Land, you are stepping on history – sometimes more literally and more directly than others. And so are the different impressions made by Galilee and by Jerusalem about history, about aesthetics, about different sorts of piety, or are all three inseparable when it comes to how a human being responds to a particular location?

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