Home / Lecture & Tour: Israel-Palestine: An Evangelical Arab Introduction

Lecture & Tour: Israel-Palestine: An Evangelical Arab Introduction

Nazareth Evangelical College is pleased to offer an integrated course including lectures and field trips on various aspects of the Holy Land, both past and present, seen from an Arab evangelical perspective, including opportunities to interact with local Arab Christians.

Course introduction

Israel-Palestine – for many “the Holy Land”—is a small sliver of land characterized by immense diversity. Historically it has seen the rise and fall of different civilizations that have left their mark in the abundant archaeological records and even in the culture and identity of Israel’s indigenous populations. Today the region is home to four major religious groups with their attendant denominations, each living in greater or lesser harmony with each other. Geographically, too, one can experience sand and snow, desert and forest, steppe and marshland, all within a few hours of each other.

To this diversity can be added the deep religious and political significance this region has to large segments of the global community, a significance that is not without tensions and ambiguity. Alongside the ancient records of the past stands the legacy of the newly created modern Israel—a state struggling to balance secularism and religious heritage, democracy and commitment to the Jews as an ethnic community. For Christians, with their commitment to the Bible, the land also has its deep significance. In terms of the past it provided the stage and focus for much of Biblical salvation history. In terms of the present and the future Christians must struggle with the meanings of the Bible’s prophetic vision of the future.

In the midst of this ideologically-laden diversity, there is a small community of Palestinian-Israeli evangelical Christians. They are a three-fold minority: Arabs among Jews, Christians among Muslims, Free church Christians among traditional Christians. As such they are part of Israel-Palestine’s diversity and significance and they have their own stories to tell, their own perspectives.

It is from the heart of this community that Nazareth Evangelical College, Israel’s only evangelical Arab theological seminary, would like to help visitors discover the land—ancient and modern— for themselves, from an Arab evangelical perspective. NEC’s faculty have put together a series of lectures looking at different facets of the context of evangelical Palestinian-Israelis: religious, political, historical, theological. These lectures will be delivered in the college on the first four days, with excursions to Nazareth interspersed. After this, a licensed evangelical Arab tour guide will take you on a ten-day tour to various sites of geographical, Biblical, historical, religious, and political significance. In addition to this, there will also be opportunity for interaction and worship with local evangelical Christians.

Here a summary in short:

Course content:

  • Instruction focusing on the past and the present: the Israel of the Bible and the Israel of today,
  • delivered through in-class lectures, outdoor fieldtrips, and interaction with local Christians,
  • offered from a specific and unique perspective, that of Israel’s Palestinian-Israeli evangelical minority.
  • In short: A total package including
    • scholarly input and dialogue,
    • first-hand experience of the land,
    • personal interaction with local believers.

Method of delivery

  • 4 days of lectures (1.5 hours each) and
  • 10 days of field trips to sites of
    • Biblical,
    • historical,
    • geographical,
    • cultural,
    • political, and
    • religious interest.
  • Including the opportunity of meeting and worshiping with local Christians.

Brief Overview of Itinerary and Contents

The course essentially consists of 18 hours of lectures with ten days of travel, including visits to local evangelical churches and opportunities to interact with local Arab Christians.

Here is a possible itinerary for a 15-day trip (lectures are underlined, field trips are in bold, interaction with locals is in italics), arriving on a Wednesday.

Day 1

Wednesday

Arrival

Reception in Nazareth

Tour of college (depending on time of arrival)

Day 2

Thursday

09:00 – 10:30: lecture 1 “Arab Christianity”

10:30 – 11:00: coffee break (+ tour of college?)

11:00 – 12:30: lecture 2 “Christians in Israel-Palestine Today”

12:30 – 14:00: lunch in college

Tour of Nazareth

Arabic Barbeque with local evangelical Christians and students of the college.

Day 3

Friday

09:00 – 10:30: lecture 3 “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict”

10:30 – 11:00: coffee break

11:00 – 12:30: lecture 4 “A Theology of the Land”

12:30 – 14:00: lunch in college

Tour of Nazareth

Day 4

Saturday

09:00 – 10:30: lecture 5 “Judaism”

10:30 – 11:00: coffee break

11:00 – 12:30: lecture 6 “Evangelicals in Israel”

12:30 – 14:00: lunch in college

14:00 – 15:30: lecture 7 “Messianic Judaism”

Day 5

Sunday

10:30 – 12:00: Worship in an Arab Baptist church in Nazareth

12:30 – 14:00: lunch in college

14:00 – 15:30: lecture 8 “Islam I”

15:30 – 16:00: coffee break

14:00 – 15:30: lecture 9 “Islam II”

Day 6

Monday

North West: Caesarea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo and Jezreel Valley.

Day 7

Tuesday

North East: Cana, Golan Heights, Caesarea Philippi, Sea of Galilee (West)

Day 8

Wednesday

Sea of Galilee (North) and Jordan River

Day 9

Thursday

Israel’s religious communities 1: Druze, Circassians, and Christian rediscovery of Hebraic roots

Day 10

Friday

Israel’s religious communities 2: Jewish Synagogue, Bahai shrine, Ahmadiyya Muslims, Samaritans

Day 11

Saturday

Jerusalem 1: Biblical sites. Visit to Messianic congregation.

Day 12

Sunday

Jerusalem 2: Biblical sites and significance to contemporary Judaism

Day 13

Monday

Wilderness of Judaea: Dead Sea, Masada, Jericho

Day 14

Tuesday

Jerusalem 3: Muslim Jerusalem (“Temple Mount”) and Modern Jerusalem (Knesset, Holocaust Museum)

Day 15

Wednesday

Departure

Detailed Contents and Itinerary

Day (1) Wednesday:

Guests will be picked up in the airport and taken to their hotel in Nazareth. Depending on time of arrival there can be a reception in Nazareth Evangelical College, which is centrally located, along with a tour of the college.

Day (2) Thursday:

The nine lectures offered by the faculty of the college will be delivered on days 2 – 5. The first two days will include a tour of Nazareth in the afternoon. The third day will include a free afternoon. The fourth day will be a full day of lectures.

Each lecture lasts 1.5 hours and they treat different aspects of the context of evangelical Palestinian-Israelis in Israel. These lectures will be interspersed with coffee breaks and lunch within the college.

Day one includes the following:

Lecture 1 “Arab Christianity”: A brief history and survey of Arab Christianity that shows the diversity of Christian church families.

Lecture 2 “Christians in Israel-Palestine Today”: An introduction to major Palestinian theological movements and tendencies in Israel along with statistics and terminology.

A tour of Nazareth, starting at the main historic and traditional fountain of Nazareth: Mary’s Well.  We will visit the Orthodox church which was built upon the historic spring of Nazareth.  This will be followed by a walk through the old city of Nazareth. On the way we will visit the old bazars and the traditional site of the Synagogue of Nazareth where Jesus is said to have read the Torah and the prophet Isaiah.

Our tour will continue to the site where the Angel Gabriel announcedthe birthof Jesus to Mary. This will be followed by an ascent to the Mount of the Precipice, the traditional site of the “cliff” from which the people of Nazareth tried to cast Jesus.

The day will be concluded with an Palestinian BBQ with local Arab evangelical Christians.

Day (3) Friday:

Lecture 3 “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict”: The history of the conflict from a Palestinian Israeli perspective, addressing the major wars and the Palestinian Israeli Christian response to them.

Lecture 4 “A Theology of the Land”: A study of the theology of the land in the Old and New Testaments, with a special reference to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.

In the afternoon a visit to Nazareth village, an open air museum with local actors recreating the life of the village of Nazareth during the time of Jesus.

Day (4) Saturday:

A full day of lectures:

Lecture 5 “Judaism”: An introduction to the history and thought of Judaism, including a consideration of its major turning points and divisions. There will also be a comparison of modern and ancient Judaism.

Lecture 6 “Evangelical Christians in Israel”: An introduction to indigenous Evangelical Christianity in Israel from both a historical as well as contemporary perspective.

Lecture 7 “Messianic Judaism”: A brief introduction to the history and theology of Messianic Judaism by a Messianic Jew, including current challenges faced by the community in Israel today.

Day (5) Sunday:

Worship in a local Arab Evangelical Church followed by lunch in the college.

Lecture 8 “Islam”: An introduction to the basic tenets, beliefs, and practices of Islam.

Lecture 9 “Islam II”: An interaction with a Muslim scholar who explains Islam in the world today.

This is the last day of lectures. The rest of the course will consist in a tour to key Biblical, historical, geographical, and religious sites and communities in the region.

Day (6) Monday:

Following the Via Maris—an ancient trade route translated as the “Way of the Sea” (Matt 4:13-16)—we will drive to Caesarea, where Peter preached to Cornelius (Acts 10) and where Paul was imprisoned before sailing to Rome. From there we ascend Mt. Carmel to visit the Muhraka, the site where Elijah fought with the prophets of Baal.

We then descend to the Jezreel Valley where to visit Megiddo before continuing to the fields of Armageddon; according to Revelation 16:16, this is where the last battle will take place.

Day (7) Tuesday:

Today we explore the Galilee, driving first to Cana of Galilee, the traditional site of the wedding where Jesus transformed water into wine (John 2: 1-11). We then drive northward to the Golan Heights and visit the major sites of the Six Day War. There we will also ascend Bental Mountain in order to look over the border with Syria and see the now ruined city of Quneitra on the other side. We will continue northwards, descending to Caesarea Philippi, the site of Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt 16:16).” Then we return to the Sea of Galilee to eat St. Peter’s fish. After this meal we will visit holy sites around the Sea of Galilee. We will begin at The Mt. Of Beatitudes, the site of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7), and go on to Tabgha, the site commemorating the miracle of the ‘loaves and the fishes’ (Mark 6:34-44).

We will then have a quiet time on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, an ideal opportunity for songs, praise and prayer time reflecting on the events that took place around the lake. We will conclude our day with a visit to the Boat Museum to experience one of the most the exiting archaeological discoveries of the 20thCentury: a first century wooden fishing boat from the Sea of Galilee dating to the time of Jesus.

After this, we will return to our hotel in Nazareth for Dinner.

Day (8) Wednesday:

Today we return to the Sea of Galilee. First stop will be the three towns that Jesus cursed because they saw his power the most but refused to believe, namely Bethsaida, Korazim and Capernaum. The last town contains Peter’s house and an impressive fifth century Synagogue built on the ruins of the one Jesus had taught in.

We will then visit the site of Gadera where Jesus healed the demon possessed person in Kursi. Our final stop will be a baptismal site on the Jordan River.

Dinner will again be in Nazareth.

Day (9) Thursday:

After our breakfast we will drive to Nabi Shue’eb, a large shrine belonging to adherents of the Druze religion, and here we will learn about their beliefs. We will then drive to Magdala, the city of Mary Magdalena, in order to look a first century Synagogue in which Jesus most likely preached. This will be followed by a visit to the community of “Domos Galileo”, a Catholic seminar for training priests which focuses on discovering Christianity’s Judaic roots and bringing the church into contact with the living tradition of Israel. Here we will see how Christians study Jewish prayer and feasts and Hebrew liturgies.

This will be followed by a visit to the Circassian village of Kufer Kama where we will learn about this ethnically unique group of Muslims, visiting their museum and mosque.

We return to Nazareth for our final night there.

Day (10) Friday:

Today is another day of religions: We begin in the ancient coastal city of Acre where we will visit a unique Jewish Tunisian Synagogue called Or Torah. All the walls of the synagogue are covered with mosaics telling the stories of the Torah. We will visit sites of different religions to learn and experience the traditions and beliefs of those religions.

Then we will drive to the coastal city of Haifa to visit the Bahai shrine and learn about the Bahai religion. This will be followed by a visit to the Kababeer neighborhood to meet a religious leader of the Ahmaddies, a Muslim sect that does not believe in “jihad” against other religions.

Our journey will then take us to Samaria in the West Bank to visit Jacobs’ Well, the place where Jesus met the Samaritan woman. The tour will be concluded with a trip to the Biblical Mount Gerizim where we will meet the high priest of the Samaritan community and visit their temple and museum.

We will then drive to our hotel in Jerusalem to check into our hotel and eat dinner.

Day (11) Saturday:

Our first excursion is to the Mt. Of Olives to behold a breathtaking panorama of the Old City. Then we will walk the Palm Sunday route, stopping to reflect on Jesus’ weeping for the destruction of Jerusalem. We will arrive at the Garden of Gethsemane where Judas betrayed Jesus, and from here we will also be able to see the Kidron Valley and the Eastern Gate. Then we will then drive to visit Mt. Zion and St. Peter In Galicantu, a church commemorating the house of Caiaphas, the place where Peter’s denied his Lord three times (Matthew 26). We will also view the pit of Jesus’ prison. Then we will walk into the upper room where Jesus had his final supper. This is next to King David’s tomb, which will cause us to ask why it is located under the Upper Room.

In the afternoon we will drive to Bethlehem,the town of the birth of Jesus, to visit the Church of the Nativity and the Shepherds’ Field, the place in which the angles announced the birth of the Messiah to the shepherds.

We return to Jerusalem to eat and sleep and visit a Messianic congregation.

Day (12) Sunday:

We will start our day in the Garden Tomb where we will see an authentic ancient cave used as a tomb. This place may well have been the real tomb of Jesus. We will then visit the Pools of Bethesda where Jesus healed the Paralytic (John 5); we will enter through the Sheep Gate from where the Jews used to bring the sheep to the Temple for the sacrifices. Our Lord would have passed through this gate on hisway to the cross. Our route will then trace the Stations of the Cross following the “Via Dolorosa”, including such sights as the Ecce Homo (John 19) and the Antonia Castle, the seat of Pontius Pilate where Jesus was judged. We will end up at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the church built on the traditional sites of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.

After Lunch we will proceed to the Temple Institute, a religious Jewish organization that recreates the tools that will be used in the future Third Temple, designing them according to Biblical and Rabbinic prescriptions. This day will conclude with a walk to the Western Wall, all that remains of the temple precinct built by Herod the Great. This is the holiest place for the Jewish people today.

Day (13) Monday:

Today we take a break from Jerusalem and head east to the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea. We will also stop at Qumran, the caves in which the oldest copies of the Bible were found, the famous “Dead Sea Scrolls”. We then go on to Masada, a fortress which was the scene of the final last stand of the Jewish rebels fighting Roman occupation after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD. Our journey will also take us to Jericho, one of the oldest cities in the world, to see the site of the Canaanite city that fell to Joshua. This city also contains the sycamore tree of “Zacchaeus”, known from the gospels. Our final stop will be at the Mount of Temptation, the traditional place where the Devil tempted Jesus.

We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for supper.

Day (14) Tuesday:

Back in Jerusalemwe first visit the Temple mount, also known in the Bible as “Mount Moriah” which today is the location of the Muslim Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque. We will tour the Western Wall tunnel, visit the southern steps of the second temple, and then end up at the City of David, an archaeological site containing remains from the time of King David and Solomon. Here we will also go through Hezekiah’s tunnel, a tunnel built by the Biblical king as a defense mechanism against the invasion of the Assyrian king Sennacherib.

We will then move on to the Israel museum, which contains an impressive model of Jerusalem from the time of Jesus as well as some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then we will visit the Holocaust museum, where we will learn about the events surrounding the Holocaust.

We will then proceed to the “Knesset,” Israel’s Parliament, where we will look at a large Menorah covered in pictures of Israel’s history.

Day (15) Wednesday:

Departure from Jerusalem to Ben Gurion airport and the flight back home.

For more information, please contact the course director Dr. Philip Sumpter at philip@nazcol.org, or call us on +972 (0) 4646 4898.