September 7, 2018

Something new on this visit was we stopped at the pottery workshop where they make beautiful vases, plates and other things with images from Madaba, including of course the Madaba map. For example here is an etched vase (not really mosaics pasted on a vase), Or alternatively, you can get a mosaic representation of the Madaba map…. There is a nice demonstration of how they do this detailed work….. I’ll let you guess what that last object does in the... Read more

September 6, 2018

Here is the Church of the Apostles…. It has a large central nave, with mosaic floors in all directions…. These are more typical of the period, in that they involve animal and people mosaics, not a map. In case you are wondering about those last two shots, that’s a picture of one of the four winds, with one at each corner of the mosaic. For reasons not entirely obvious, Christ is depicted in the central mosaic as the lord over... Read more

September 5, 2018

Certainly one of my favorite places to visit in Jordan is Madaba, home of the famous Madaba map in the church of St. George, which is still an active Orthodox Church. The dominate form of Christianity in Jordan is Greek Orthodox, but it makes up only a tiny percentage of the population, perhaps 2%. Here is the church itself….. And here are a whole series of shots of the mosaic map in the floor of this church. It was damaged... Read more

September 4, 2018

Mt. Nebo is an important site for Christians, and there are quite a few churches in the area…. Mt. Nebo is of course the site where Moses saw the promised land today, though at present the view is so hazy, you can only barely make out what is in the distance— which is the Jordan river and Jericho on a clear day. There was an ancient church on this overlook. Here is some of the original flooring of the Byzantine... Read more

September 3, 2018

One of the sites that I had not personally visited before was Bethany beyond Jordan, which of all the claimed locations of Jesus’ baptism by John, this one has the best claim of all. It’s become a beautiful site with various Orthodox and Catholic churches, and I actually got down in the Jordan and performed a ceremony of baptismal remembrance for various folks…. The river has various tributaries here, and they are not terribly deep in May. I sank up... Read more

September 2, 2018

Jerash is yet another of the cities of the Greek Decapolis. The Biblical name is Gerasa, and it appears it was in the territory of Gerasa that Jesus ran into a demoniac with a Legion of demons. There is some textual uncertainty involved as the Greek may have originally read Gadarene demoniac (as in the city of Gadara near the south end of the Sea of Galilee). In any, Jerash is a major site of the Biblical period well worth... Read more

September 1, 2018

We are now heading into Jordan, and the first stop is Amman, the capital city itself. But actually this is a very ancient city named Philadelphia, the city of sisterly love, and it was one of the major Greek cities of the Decapolis. We will start with a visit to the Citadel, the ancient acropolis of the city, and to its museum. When you cross into Jordan near the Dead Sea, you notice how much the Dead Sea has shrunk,... Read more

August 31, 2018

By now, unless one has been in a coma since 1947, you have heard of the Dead Sea (or better Qumran) scrolls. The day we visited Qumran in May it was 120F…. and humid, as we are near the lowest point on earth— the Dead Sea. Here it is…. You can just see Jordan through the haze in the distance on the far shore. The Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking, mainly because its main source of in-flow is the Jordan,... Read more

August 30, 2018

On the back side of Bethlehem there are several important sites, shepherd’s fields for one, and the Herodium for another. They are both worth a visit. This time we did the usual things at shepherd’s field, but visit a new cave where there is clear evidence that shepherds and sheep sheltered. Bethlehem was providing lambs for the slaughter, literally, for the sacrifices in Jerusalem. It is ironic, but appropriate that the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of... Read more

August 29, 2018

The garden tomb is a nice site near the old city of Jerusalem to give one a visual image of the kind of tomb Jesus was likely buried in. It is a rock cut tomb with a rolling stone that fits the Gospel descriptions of what it would look like. Unfortunately it does not have an ancient pedigree, and there are many such tombs around Jerusalem. Yes, this tomb is outside the current old city walls, but they only date... Read more

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