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More in Jerusalem

This has been a great trip.  One of the things I’ve liked about it is that it has been focused on Israel in a number of historical periods as well as in the present; it has not been entirely about Christian and Jewish Holy Sites.  And so, for example, today we did the City of David (that I’ll talk about below), had a grand overview of the Temple Mount (with the Dome of the Rock), walked through good chunks of the Jewish Quarter, had a very nice lunch outside the old city walls, went to the Jerusalem Market (outdoors, lots of food and spice merchants, etc.), and so on.   It wasn’t just one holy site after the other, but there was plenty of holy site time as well. The City of David is in some sense the “original” Jerusalem, the place that King David allegedly conquered from the Jebusites and where he then set up his kingdom.  It is outside the “old” city walls, which in fact are (only!) from the 16th century, built when [...]

Touring Jerusalem

We are in that part of our tour of Israel – getting near the end – when everything more or less melds together and you can’t remember what you did when or where.  These trips involve some serious sensory overload. Today we did some amazing things.   First we went to the Western Wall, probably the most sacred spot for Jews in Israel.   Years ago people referred to it as the Wailing Wall, but no longer.   It is what remains of the wall surrounding the Temple compound back in the days of Jesus, the wall constructed at the time of King Herod.   It is most sacred because it is the spot that remains that is closest to what was at the time the Holy of Holies within the temple itself (i.e., it is not a wall of the temple, but of the temple complex).   The Temple complex was enormous – large enough to fit 25 (American) football fields (which, among other things, makes it very hard indeed to think that Jesus actually shut down the entire [...]

On to Jerusalem

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 [...]

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