Study Leave—Week Nine

Nine weeks have now passed since I arrived in Israel for my study leave, and Easter is here again as the Eastern rite Christians celebrate Easter.

That liturgical cycle began for me with an Easter play performed by some of the young adults of the Sabeel community in Nazareth. As befits a Nazareth version of the story there was a considerable emphasis on Mary and the Annunciation, but the story certainly included Holy Week, Good Friday, and Easter morning. There was an impressive use of digital imagery to convey the story, and to tease out its larger significance. The performance was presented in the small theatre at Beit Miriam, The International Marian Center across the street from the Basilica. You will find a good set of photos from this event on the Sabeel Nazareth Facebook page.

On Sunday I was invited to join the Greek Orthodox Palm Sunday celebrations, followed by a meal with a local family in Nazareth. Some photos and videos of that event have already been posted on my own Facebook page.

Much of Monday through Wednesday was devoted to work on my paper for the “Biblical Characters in the Three Traditions” seminar at the Society of Biblical Literature international meeting in St Andrews, Scotland just before I head home in mid-July. I did not quite reach my goal of completing that 7,000+ words project before heading to the airport on Wednesday afternoon to meet Eve, but I am only about 500-1000 words short. That paper explores the rivalry between Herod’s three surviving sons (Archelaus, Antipas, and Philip) as reflected in their coins, and draws on some of my recent work in the coin department at Israel Antiquities Authority. “We Three kings” is all but finished, although I then need to turn it into a 10 min Powerpoint presentation for the seminar session.

On Tuesday I spent several hours at a local Bedouin school where a friend of mine teaches English. I took a session with four of her regular classes from the Middle School (or Junior High, as they would say). This was a fascinating experience and gave me a small insight into the Bedouin experience within the larger Israeli society. The kids also seemed to enjoy the sessions, so I think it was a good day for us all.

Eve arrived here on Wednesday evening, after a pretty gruelling flight from Australia via London. We are having a couple of days in Jerusalem, staying at St George’s College where we met back in December 1991. Thursday was spent visiting some special places around the Old City, but also included about 4 hours at the Sabeel office in Jerusalem. Friday morning began with a visit to the Mt Olives followed by several hours at the Israel Museum. Later afternoon we went down to the Damascus Gate to sit for an hour or so and watch the passing parade of humanity, which is especially rich this week due to so many people from Coptic and Orthodox communities being here for the Easter celebrations.

For the next two weeks I am on annual leave, so please note that there will be no study reports during that time.

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