Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Holy Week in Jerusalem

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, when most of Christendom commemorates Jesus’  Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem.  Tomorrow also begins Holy Week, the commemoration of the final days of our Lord’s mortal life, culminating in his suffering, death, and resurrection.  We have a wonderful opportunity while we are here in the Holy City to study and reflect upon the pivotal events of our faith while we are where they occurred.  For years I have looked forward to being here to experience this.

Each day I will making posts, reflecting on the scriptural texts for each day and posting pictures and even video clips of the traditional sites in and around the city where these sacred events are believed to have occurred.  

Wishing you and yours a a reflective Holy Week and a blessed, joyous Easter,
Eric Huntsman 
View towards the Basilica of the Agony and the area of Gethsemane

Gordon's Calvary, a Protestant alternative for Golgotha near the Garden Tomb

The Holy Sepulchre, the traditional site of the crucifixion and resurrection
African pilgrims throng the Garden Tomb
Last year I produced a book-length study of the Passion and Resurrection Narratives, God So Loved the World: The Final Days of the Savior’s Life, and LDS Living had me write a brief article on using the events of this week as part of our celebration of Easter.  From them I have drawn the chronology that appears below.  It includes a list of scripture readings and even musical selections for each day that can be used in personal and family study and reflection during this week.  As the week progresses, I am adding links to each day so readers can go directly to blog posts about experiences on these days here in Jerusalem

  A Chronology of the Final Days of the Savior’s Life

Friday or Saturday
The anointing described by John (John 12:1–11).
Triumphal Entry; cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21:1–17; Mark: 11:1–11; Luke 19:28–46; John 12:12–19).  Suggested Music: Sing “All Glory, Laud, and Honor.”  Blessing of Palms and procession St. George Anglican Cathedral (10:30 a.m., 20 Nablus Road); Palm Sunday processional from Bethphage to St. Anne’s Church (2:30 p.m.)
Cursing of the fig tree; cleansing of the temple in Mark; teaching in the temple (Matthew 21:18–22:14; Mark 11:12–19; Luke 19:47–20:18; John 12:20–36).  Suggested Music: Sing “Come, O Thou King of Kings.”  Go up on the Temple Mount (no scriptures or hymnbooks) and/or sit somewhere on the Mount of Olives or on a Jerusalem Center terrace where you can read Jesus’ teachings in the temple while you view the Haram.
Lessons from the fig tree; more teachings in the; the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 22:15–25:46; Mark 11:20–13:37; Luke 20:19–21:38; John 12:37–50). Suggested Music: “Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth.”  Go to the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens (in a large group) or the Pater Noster Church to read, sing, and view the city as Christ would have when he delivered the Olivet Discourse.
Plot to kill Jesus; the anointing described by Mark and Matthew; Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:1–16; Mark 14:1–11; Luke 22:1–6).  Suggested Music: “O Love That Glorifies the Son.” Bethany is not an easy option, so find another site on the Mount of Olives to remember the last day that Jesus spent with his friends, taking time in particular to recount the anointing of the unnamed woman and what it represents.
The Last Supper; Gethsemane; betrayal and arrest; Jesus before the Jewish authorities (Matthew 26:17–26:75; Mark 14:12–72; Luke 22:7–71; John 13:1–18:27).  Suggested Music: Listen  Bach’s St. Matthew Passion; sing “Reverently and Meekly Now.”  Go to the Garden of Gethsemane during the day, perhaps visit St. Peter’s in Gallicantu (site of Jesus’ hearing before Caiaphas) and the Cenacle (traditional Last Supper site).  Students should not be in the Old City or East Jerusalem after dark.
Jesus in the hands of the Romans; the Crucifixion; the burial (Matthew 27:1–61; Mark 15:1–47; Luke 23:1–56; John 18:28–19:42).  Suggested Music: Listen to Bach’s St. John Passion; sing “O Savior, Thou Who Wearest a Crown” and “Behold the Great Redeemer Die.”  Join the Via Dolorosa Way of the Cross procession (starting at 11:30 a.m. at the First Station down from Lion’s Gate); attend the Good Friday Service at Christ Church (1:00 p.m. inside Jaffa Gate across from the Citadel); go to the Garden Tomb to contemplate the Burial.  
Jesus in the Spirit World (Matthew 27:62–66; 3 Nephi 9–10; 1 Peter 3:18–4:6; D&C 138).  Suggested Music: Listen to Wilberg’s Reqieum or Cundick’s Redeemer; sing “Turn Your Hearts.”
The Resurrection (Matthew 28:1–15; Mark 16:1–14; Luke 24:1–49; John 20:1–23).  Suggested Music: Listen to Handel’s Messiah; sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”  Attend the Easter Sunrise Service in the garden of the German Archaeological Institute-Auguste Victoria Compound (5:30 a.m., on Mount Scopus behind the center), the Sunrise Resurrection Services at the Garden Tomb (6:30 and 9:30 a.m.) or the Solemn High Mass at Notre Dame of Jerusalem (10:00 a.m., opposite New Gate).

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Galilee 11 Medterranean Sites

We left Galilee this morning on Day 11 of our rotation and drove to Haifa, the first of our stops at sites on the Mediterranean Sea: Haifa, Mt. Carmel, and Caesarea.  Haifa is the third largest city in modern Israel and serves as its largest port.  But we did not come to see that city itself.  Instead, we drove into the city to visit the Templar Cemetery, after which we drove up Mt. Carmel, where we viewed the Baha'i Gardens from above and then went to Muhraqa, the traditional site of Elijah's contest with the priests of Ba`al.  We then drove down the coast to Caesarea, the city that Herod the Great built as the new port for his kingdom.

See and read about our previous visit to these sites in last semester's blog entry.

Templar Cemetery

The German Templars were a millennialist German denomination that began to settle in the Holy Land about 1850, bringing advancements in agriculture and technology to Palestine.  Early LDS Missionaries in what was then the Turkish mission came to Haifa, primarily to work with resident European Christians like the Templars.  When the first LDS missionary to the Holy Land arrived in 1886, he met a German Templar, whom he has seen beforehand in a dream, and soon taught and baptized him.  His name was J. Georg Grau, and he became the branch president of a small branch of the Church in Haifa.  He and his wife Magdalena are both buried in the cemetery.

Two young LDS missionaries, Adolph Haag and John Clark came to Haifa in 1892 and 1894 respectively.  Both of these young men died of disease, Haag of typhus and Clark of small pox.  They too are buried in the cemetery, and their graves together with those of the Graus are evidence of early LDS presence in this land.  Visiting them, hearing Kent Jackson read from their journals and letters, and singing fuenral hymns such as "Come, Ye Disconsolate" and "Though Deepening Trials" on the spot was very moving.

New marker over the grave of Georg Grau

Original marker of Magdalena Grau with a quotation from Revelation 14:6
Graves of the Kegels, another early LDS couple

One of our students, Aimee Sioux Washburn, is the great great granddaughter of Adolph Haag. Another, Kelsey Clark, is a distant relative of Clark. 

Aimee Sioux Washburn in front of the grave of her great great grandfather, Adolph Haag

Kelsey Clark by the grave marker of John Clark.
Baha`i Gardens

The world headquarters of the Baha`i faith is in Haifa.  In addition to the Universal House of Justice, where their administrative offices are located, their is a beautiful shrine over the tomb of the Bab, the forerunner to Baha`i founder Baha'Ullah (who happens to be buried in Acco, though we did not get to see his grave site when we were there).  The Bab's shrine sits in the middle of beautiful terraced gardens.

Group pic
Bro pic

Sis pic


Muhraqa is the Arabic word for "sacrifice" and recalls the sacrificial contest between Elijah, prophet of YHWH, and the priests of Ba`al in 1 Kings 18.  It is located on the beautiful Mount Carmel, a long ridge actually, that juts northwest into the Mediterranean Sea, forming the bay that makes Haifa such a great port and which separates the Jezreel Valley from the Plain of Sharon to the south.

The Carmelites, a Roman Catholic order that was formed here during the Crusades, built a monastery here which was restored when they returned in the seventeenth century.  Here we met the other class, which had been stranded because of a bus break-down.  To help them structure their time a bit, we suggested that they "put on a show" for us, reenacting the contests between Elijah and the false prophets.

After the "play," I took my class in front of the statue of Elijah, where we talked about 1 Kings 19 a little more seriously.  We then went into the small, simple Caremelite chapel, where we sang a number of reverential hymns and having a prayer before going up on the roof of the monastery to appreciate the view from the lookout spot.


Our last stop was Caesarea Maritima, the city on the coast that Herod the Great transformed into a busy port and the most important Greco-Roman city in his kingdom.  Later it became the capital of the Roman province of Judea, and it was here that Cornelius became the first Gentile convert baptized.  Paul was held here for two years and tried before appealing to Caesar and being sent to Rome. 

First we stopped outside of the site itself to look at the remains of the aqueduct to the north of the ancient city.

We then entered the site itself.  Jared Ludlow talked to our students about the history of the site in its theater, after which I led the students down to the remains of Herod's palace, which was later used as the headquarters of the Roman governors, where I taught from Acts 24-26.

Group pic with Herod's palace in the background

Lower portion of Herod's palace
Upper portion


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Galilee Day 10: Western Galilee

Galilee is usually divided into Upper and Lower Galilee, but for our purposes we have a field trip called "Western Galilee," which simply means we head out west of the lake to hit three sites, one of which is on the Mediterranean Sea.  They were Chorazin (spelled Korazim in Hebrew), Sepphoris, and then Acco (also spelled Akko and usually called Acre in English).  Another site, Nazareth, normally would fit into this rubric, but we visited it on the first day of our Galilee rotation.  Click here to see the report and images from last semester's field trips.

And today's highlight video:


Chorazin is part of the "evangelical triangle" that also included Capernaum and Bethsaida.  Jesus spent much of his ministry in and between these three cities and performed many of his miracles there.  Like Capernaum, most of the construction was done with local black basalt stone and actually dates to periods after Jesus' day.  Jerome Murphy-O'Connor called it "Capernaum with a view" because it lies in the hills above the Sea of Galilee.

We started our visit in the fourth century synagogue, where Kent Jackson talked to us about synagogue architecture, noting "Moses' seat" and talked about first century and then Talmudic-era synagogue practice.  I picked up with the Moses seat image by quoting and explicating Matthew 23:1--12, noting how we in our own faith community often "add burdens to the law" by presuming to speak for the Lord or his servants without authority.

Rebecca Holland pointing out "Moses' Seat"
Kent Jackson teaching
"Get some depth!" In the fourth century synagogue at Chorazin
But mostly in Chorazin I reviewed the "woes" that Jesus pronounced on Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum in Matthew 11:20-24, pointing out that we could substitute any of our own cities for them.  We have Jesus' teachings and he likewise does many miracles in our own lives but we do not always repent!


A tiny speck or mote of stone

Compare the mote with this stone beam used in construction

On of the leading cities of Galilee, Sepphoris became its capital when Herod Antipas inherited it as his tetrarchy following the death of Herod the Great.  Just two miles away from Nazareth, Antipas' building projects here might have attracted a tekton or craftsman like Joseph from over the hill.

In both Jesus' time and the Talmudic period, Sepphoris, though Jewish, was highly Hellenized.  Greek culture and art permeated the town.  The synagogue was even decorated with Greek motifs and mythological images, as were many of the homes. 

Reconstruction of the Sepphoris synagogue
Mosaic of the zodiac on the synagogue floor

Another lovely mosaic, "the Mona Lisa of Galilee," adorns the floor of a large wealthy home
Group pic in the theater at Sepphoris
The other class on the top of a Crusader tower
Ethan and I pose with the Lady Erin

Next we do some GQ modeling with Kent Jackson

Ten days of touring has led to some surprising, if silly, incidents on site.   Here, the "Count Your Blessings" rap:


Acco has been an important port for almost 4,000 years.  During Crusader period, it was known as Acre and served as their last stronghold in the Holy Land.  We visited the Crusader fortress, walked through the Templar Tunnel, and walked along the water front.

Class Program

For our final night her at `En Gev, we had a special class program after dinner down at the beach.  Sitting around a bon fire, we sang hymns, listened to two special musical numbers, were inspired by a brief talk on the atonement by Maddie, and shared testimonies.  Sitting there under the stars as the waves lapped against the shore is a memory I will always treasure.