The first-of-its-kind trip to Israel led by Dr. Johnathon Geer, professor of Old Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, allowed GRTS students to receive credit for a two-week intensive course in January.
The trip, now integrated into the GRTS curriculum, included historic sites such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Masada, Mt. Carmel and the Sea of Gallilee.
“It helps bring these figures in Biblical history down off the flannel board and down off the stain glass window,” Dr. Greer said of the experience. “To put it simply, students will never read their Bible the same way again.”
Students can fulfill the Holy Lands requirement in one of two ways, the two-week tour of Israel or through a traditional on-campus course.
The study tour emphasizes the spiritual dimensions of the trip and mainly focuses on the historical and cultural background of the Bible.
“It fills in color on the black and white words of Scripture,” said Dr. Greer. “It brings it into clearer resolution and lets you identify with these people and places in a whole different way.”
David Turner, professor of New Testament who joined Dr. Greer on the trip to the Holy Lands, highly recommends that students choose to experience it for themselves.
“It brings the Bible to life for you in a way that looking at words that are flat on a page cannot,” he said. “You get to walk where Jesus walked. You can go and see for yourself where the various characters were.”
The next trip in June will be led by Dr. John Hilber, professor of Old Testament, and Dr. Timothy Gombis, associate professor of New Testament.
The Israel Study Tour is required for all master of divinity students who began their program in Fall 2013. The Study Tour is open to students in other degree programs but they must pay the total cost.
Generous donors and GRTS have worked to minimize the costs involved in the Study Tour for master of divinity students. In addition to the two-credit cost there is a course fee of $1,000 with the remaining trip costs covered for students in the M.Div. program. Students in other programs pay $3,500, which includes the cost of two audit credits and the course fee.
For more information about the trip and the master of divinity program at GRTS, visit www.cornestone.edu/israel-study-tour.