Brian Wallheimer | March 4, 2019
The Notre Dame Department of Theology is hosting an academic experience in the Holy Land this summer for graduate students in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity and History of Christianity, adding a sense of place for those studying ancient scriptures.
Abraham Winitzer, the Jordan H. Kapson Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, and Robin Jensen, the Patrick O’Brien Professor of Theology, will lead the trip for up to 10 students. They will spend four weeks at Notre Dame’s Jerusalem Global Gateway and Tantur Ecumenical Institute learning the geography and history of the Holy Land, then spend two weeks at a nearby archaeological site, Tell Azeka, to participate in an excavation led by experts from Tel Aviv University, along with others from other leading institutions, including Heidelberg University and the Pontifical Biblical Institute.
Having feet on the ground adds considerable depth for students trying to make sense of texts written thousands of years ago, Winitzer said.
“The Bible, both the Old Testament and New Testament, come out of a context of the Holy Land. Being in the landscape and what things literally look like and how the geography relates to the text is incredibly meaningful for understanding the biblical text,” Winitzer said.
“If you read the Old Testament, you come out almost inevitably with an impression that at the time of its writing, the main idea is that there is one God. You go to the Holy Land and visit sites and realize that was an ideal, but it was very different on the ground. There is every reason to believe the old ways persisted much longer than those writing the text want you to believe.”
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