As 2012 draws to a close and we quickly approach our date of departure for the Holy Land, remember the final two sessions of our “Going Places” series coming up on January 2 and 9.
The first will be split into two 45-minute segments: First, John will give a brief presentation on biblical archaeology, Digging In to Understand Biblical History. We will be introduced to the history of archaeology in the Holy Land and to the modern process of excavating a site. This introduction will give us an orientation to how sites are developed and interpreted, in order to help us understand some of the archaeology that we’ll encounter on our journey.
Tina will lead the second half of the session, which will be devoted to travel details, Q & A, and additional tips. We’ll plan a short break between segments so that any who wish to attend the first but who are not traveling with us this year can feel free to be dismissed if they like.
Then, on Jan. 9, we welcome back Dr. Roby Barrett for a bonus presentation on the modern situation in Israel-Palestine and an informed perspective on current events. In addition to the recommended reading mentioned in previous posts (also see under the Resources tab above), he has referred us to a well-written article on the internal challenges that Israel’s growing social diversity has generated. This is a good introduction to the reality of a complex social and political fabric in Israel of which many Americans are unaware. Read the article here.
Our group had a fun and informative final session for 2012 in our “Going Places” class Wednesday evening. The focus was on the Dead Sea, Qumran, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here are a couple of interesting links related to the Dead Sea’s history.
First is an article in the “popular science” genre that discusses the historically drastic changes in the Dead Sea’s water level: “A Dry Dead Sea Before Biblical Times.”
Second is an animated map that shows the estimated changes in the size of the Dead Sea as compared to its present level, beginning in about 3300 B.C.: “The Dead Sea: A History of Change.”
Third, Wayne Stiles offers a helpful look at the uniqueness of the Dead Sea, including its unique history and future from a biblical perspective: The Dead Sea Will Live Again
Of course, on the subject of the Dead Sea Scrolls, be sure not to miss the exhibit at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible. It runs through January 13, 2013.
A real archaeological and visual highlight on our trip to the Holy Land will no doubt be the Herodian fortress along the Dead Sea known as Masada. Wayne Stiles has an excellent article with some outstanding photos of the site and some devotional reflections: Masada: A Place of Sanctuary, Suicide, and Inspiration. This is good background for our visit as well as for general information about a breathtaking and key historical site.
When we visited the Holy Land in January we stopped near the Dead Sea at a site called Qumran. In several of the caves around Qumran, the first Dead Sea Scrolls were recovered. The first of these discoveries was in 1947, and it ushered in a new era in many fields, including biblical studies. The Dead Sea Scrolls are widely considered to be one of the most significant archaeological finds of all time.
In Fort Worth, a special exhibit is underway featuring scroll fragments owned locally by Southwestern Seminary, a rare fragment from a Genesis scroll on public display for the first time, two fragments on loan from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, facsimiles of other major scrolls, and related artifacts connected to the early archaeology of Qumran. The exhibition is called Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible: Ancient Artifacts, Timeless Treasures, and we are organizing a field trip from First UMC to go.
The Holy Land travel group from 2012 invites you to join us on Sunday, September 9, 2012. We will leave from First UMC in McKinney at 1:00 p.m. and travel to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, or you can meet us there by 2:30. The exhibit is open until 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. We will purchase a block of tickets at a group rate ($25 for adults), so to get that rate you will need to let us know you are coming. Email the Adult Discipleship office and tell us your name, email address, a contact phone number, and how many are coming. Seniors (62+), children, and students (with ID) save a little more (active military are free with ID), so tell us if you fit any of those categories. We’ll send you instructions on getting payment to the church. The deadline to reserve with the group and to make payment will be Friday, August 31 at noon.
Check out the excellent website and related resources at SeetheScrolls.com, and stay tuned to this blog over the next several weeks for some discussion and some recommended reading and resources to inform and prepare you for the experience.
On our journey to the Holy Land in January, our group will get to visit the world-renowned Israel Museum in Jerusalem. A couple of weeks ago in the Jerusalem Post, Wayne Stiles published a list of his top “7 must-sees at the Israel Museum” and, he adds, “why you should care.”
Take a look at his column here, and get a foretaste of the amazing archaeology in this collection and its significance for our study of biblical history. The Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book is also the permanent home of Israel’s Dead Sea Scrolls. We will discuss the Dead Sea Scrolls here in future posts, including their discovery at Qumran in the Judean wilderness (which we’ll visit) and an upcoming opportunity to see a local exhibit of some Dead Sea Scrolls right here in the DFW area.