In 2012, my wife and I packed up our things—well, two suitcases each—and moved to Israel for graduate school and a ministry opportunity. Our time in the land, and living in a small Palestinian village just outside of Bethlehem was one of the most amazing seasons in our lives. Whenever we’re asked about what we took away from the experience I always respond, in part, by saying, “I feel like I read the Bible in color!” St. Jerome said something similar 1600 years before me,
Just as one understands the Greek historians better when one has seen Athens, or the third book of Virgil when one has sailed to Troas or to Sicily…so we also understand the Scriptures better when we have seen Judaea with our own eyes…and discovered what still remains of ancient towns. That is why I myself took care to travel through this land. (Praefatio Hieronymi in Librum Paralipomenon, MPL XXIII, col. 1324)
Every day pilgrims from all over the world travel to the land of the Bible to see the places where God’s story of redemption took place. This practice helps believers better understand the Bible on its own terms, and it brings a sense of reality to the God who actually invaded human history.
Dr. Jonathan Greer, associate professor of Old Testament and Director of the Hesse Memorial Archaeology Lab at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary knows this first-hand. Because of this first-hand knowledge, Dr. Greer leads a trip to Israel every January with GRTS students and is an active archaeologist at Tel Dan in northern Israel. He is passionate about studying the places, times and the events of the Bible in order to arrive at a deeper understanding of the Scriptures and, in turn, our Lord.
Dr. Greer is the associate director of excavations and is the residing zooarchaeologist at Tel Dan. His educational background includes two master’s degrees from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a doctoral degree from Penn State University. His research areas include the Bible and archaeology; latter prophets (Isaiah through Malachi); Israelite religion and history; and Ancient Near Eastern languages and culture.
Next week, on Tuesday, Oct. 20 from 7-8:30 p.m., Dr. Greer will be hosting a lecture and informational meeting about his work at Tel Dan and how you can get involved! This free lecture will be hosted at the Pirsig/DeBruyn Chapel at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and will include Middle Eastern appetizers. Dr. Greer will be speaking about why Tel Dan is important for the study of ancient Israel and the Bible. He will also be presenting on ways you can get involved with a fully operational archaeology dig next summer. No experience necessary!
Please join us next week as Dr. Greer shares his heart for the Bible, the land and the ways which archaeology can benefit Bible study.
My time in the land of the Bible was one of the most formative experiences in my life. I’m excited about the opportunities students will have traveling and digging into the history of God’s redemptive plan with Dr. Jonathan Greer. If you have any questions about the event, email Dani Lauer. You can read more about the dig at www.teldanexcavations.com.
We hope to see you next Tuesday!
Tel Dan photo courtesy of Derek Winterburn