Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Last minute I have organized a research trip to Israel for the first couple of weeks of January (1-10). This will be my second trip to Israel. The first time was in 2000 when I went on a dig with my grad school.
This year I applied for a development grant from North Park and I was award funds to conduct research in archaeology and for a course I will be teaching next year on Historical Geography of the Land. One of the benefits of having a wife who works for American Airlines is the flying privileges. Karla's connection allows me the opportunity to go.
I have a real passion to bring the concreteness of the Jewish eschatological expectations to my classroom and in my publishing and I can think of no better way than to spend time in the Land for which all Jewish hopes were tied.
There are varying motivations for having a strong affection for the Land of Israel. Growing up in a dispensational context the land was important because it it here where Jesus' 1000 year reign will be conducted. Furthermore, the occupation of the Land in the 40's was considered to be nothing short of the fulfillment of prophecy. Thus, for some dispensationalists supporting the contemporary Israeli government became a spiritual discipline.
Others--and these are not mutually exclusive--have an affection for the Land as a place of religious relics. If you have ever been to the Land you know the sense of feeling like you are at Walt Disney World when you tour the scared Christian sites. This part of the Land I don't really enjoy. The gaudy churches and religious relics seem to me to take away from the humble way of Jesus.
For me, I am motivated to be in the Land in order to awaken my historical imagination. I want to taste the tastes and smell the smells of first-century Judea, Samaria and Galilee. I want to gain a familiarity with distance and language and culture and topography. And this is not so much because I want to lecture on a given topic, but I want there to be an unconscious familiarity with the place on which the Jewish people have set their hopes. The place for which they longed to be restored.
My itinerary will be flexible but here is what I am thinking right now: 3 days in Jerusalem, 3-4 days in Galilee and 1-2 days in Dead Sea region. I will be spending the first few days with Jerusalem University College before venturing out on my own.
Posted by Joel Willitts at 8:52 AM