August 15, 2018

Certainly one of the most tranquil and beautiful sites near the Sea of Galilee is the so-called Mt. of Beatitudes. We honestly do not know exactly where Jesus taught the beatitudes, but the indications are it was somewhere bigger than this locale, since there was a large crowd involved. It doesn’t much matter, this is a fine place to contemplate the meaning of Jesus’ counter intuitive eschatological beatitudes. Here’s the view….. The Franciscans and other Catholic orders do nice work... Read more

August 14, 2018

Perhaps you have heard of the amazing discovery of a decorated torah table at the Migdal dig. It is now safely ensconced in the Israeli museum, but a full size replica can be viewed at the site. Most scholars think the table would have been used to roll out a Biblical scroll on, for the reading during the synagogue service, and I agree that is likely. Note the menorah as well as the floral patterns on the carved stone table.... Read more

August 13, 2018

Certainly one of the most important digs in all of Israel in recent years, is the dig at Migdal, or Magdala, the home of the Mary we call Magdalene. Migdal means tower in Hebrew, but this was a thriving fishing village, complete we a fish pickle factory, making garum, the relish everyone loved to put on their food. First we will examine the beautiful chapel the Franciscans are building on the site….. There are little chapels in the alcoves of... Read more

August 12, 2018

As most of you will have heard some time ago, a boat was excavated out of the mud in the sea of Galilee when it was at a low ebb, and it turned out to be a boat from the era in which Jesus and Paul lived. This was clearly a home-made boat, made out of many different kinds of wood, as we will see shortly, apparently whatever wood was ready to hand. Today the boat looks like this…. But... Read more

August 11, 2018

Certainly some of the most dramatic two chapters in the Bible are 1 Kings 18-19– the story of Elijah’s triumph over the prophets of Baal, and the aftermath, involving a flight to Mt. Horeb. Mt. Carmel today has a nice monastery on top, and a great view of the Jezreel valley. Here’s the statue of Elijah in the act of dispatching some false prophets…. And here’s the overlook of a hazy Jezreel valley…. There are caves found here where the... Read more

August 10, 2018

Caesarea Maritima is of importance, not merely to understand the grandiose building complexes of Herod the Great, but also of course because here is where the prefect of the province of Judaea lived, including Pontius Pilate. A famous inscription, now in the Israeli museum, was found here mentioning Pilate. Here is what the original stone looked like…. But it is also important for the study of Paul and his work, because of course he was incarcerated here for two years,... Read more

August 9, 2018

The journey to Israel can take many forms, but in antiquity if you were sailing there from Greece, you would go to the Caesarea Maritima, Herod’s spectacular man-made port. We will visit it first. There is now a nice film one can see of what it would have looked like… here are some stills I took from the film…. The harbor complex seems to have been modeled on the harbor in Alexandria where the famous Pharos lighthouse could be seen…... Read more

August 8, 2018

This will be the last of our posts on Greece, and it is fitting that we end where we began, back in Athens. The new Parthenon museum is world-class, and not to be missed if one is going to Athens to see the Parthenon, not least because, major parts of that temple are now in this nice museum which lurks below the acropolis, and is even built so its angle and dimensions correspond to the angle of the Parthenon itself,... Read more

August 7, 2018

American can be proud that we have had so much to do with the dig at ancient Corinth, which fortunately was not buried beneath the modern city of Corinth. American archaeologists have worked there since before the middle of the 20th century, and much has come to light. I had the privilege of watching the excavation of a villa up above the city proper in the little village beside the site. What was unearthed was spectacular mosaic floors, such as... Read more

August 6, 2018

The Roman General Mummius rather completely destroyed ancient Corinth in about 144 B.C. and then Julius Caesar had it rebuilt along Roman lines. The only major building left standing was the ancient Temple of Apollo, which you can still see today. Both in those pictures and in the one below, you can see an ancient shop where Priscilla, Aquila, and Paul may have worked. Apollo was like a Swiss army knife— he served many functions, including riding the sun chariot... Read more

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