Just a quick post because of time constraints. We just got into Jerusalem and I am off to give a lecture in half an hour.
We left Tiberias (and the Sea of Galilee) this morning and traveled down to Jerusalem. En route we went to one of the traditional sites of Jesus’ baptism, in the Jordan River; it can’t be the actual site, since it’s way up north and it is clear in our earliest account, Mark’s, that John was baptizing somewhere in walking distance of Jerusalem. But it’s a gorgeous setting, and there are always groups of people getting baptized there – as today.
From there we went to Beth Shean, one of the major archaeological sites of (Greek and) Roman ruins in Israel, with terrific colonnaded walk ways, a very nicely preserved theater that seats 8000 (in the Greek style – that is, built into the natural slope of a hill, rather than the Roman style which tended to be “free standing”), some terrific public baths, temples, and lots of other things.
We continued to Jerusalem where we had an overview of the city from Mount Scopus (from the east); and had lunch at the Israel Museum. There is an enormous “model” of Jerusalem there, from ca. 66 CE, to scale. But the highlight of the museum for most visitors, and for me personally, is the Shrine of the Book, where the first seven discovered Dead Sea Scrolls are housed, including the Isaiah scroll (they have only a facsimile presented, since the original needed more careful conservation) – a complete copy of Isaiah.
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