A Georgia Baptist Institution
ISRAEL EXPERIENCE 2009
Beginning in May 2009, Shorter University will expand its study abroad program to include participation in an archaeological excavation in Israel. This trip is also open to non-students.
Application deadline is December 1, 2008.
Prior to coming to Shorter in 2006, Dr. Hix taught at Louisiana College where he helped to establish the Israel Studies Program at that institution. Recently, Dr. Hix has been appointed and an Associate Director of the Kursi Excavation and as a faculty member of the Jerusalem Institute for Biblical Exploration.
Excavations revealed the remnants of the largest Byzantine-period monastery in Israel (123 by 145 meters). The monastery and the church inside it were built in the middle of the fifth century C.E. and were apparently damaged during the Persian invasion (614 C.E.). The church was repaired but abandoned in the eighth century and never again used for prayer. In the church, archeologists found a mosaic floor with pictures of animals (chickens, geese, doves, cormorants, and fish), parts of which were vandalized, and pictures of plants such as citrons, dates, pomegranates, and grapes. The mosaic floor in the baptism room has a Greek inscription.
In 1980, a small chapel was discovered with its apse built in a cave. Christian tradition ties this cave with the place the possessed man revealed himself to Jesus and where Jesus cleansed him cast the demons into the swine.
The healing of the demon-possessed man and his subsequent evangelistic efforts mark Kursi as the beginning of Gentile Christianity in Israel. Immediately following the healing of demoniac, he is asked to leave the area (Mark 5:1-20). But when he returns to this same side of the lake in Mark 7:31-8:10, he is welcomed and great crowds gather.
The rest of story of Kursi is about not only the faith of a committed Christian community, but also of courage and suffering in the face of persecution and even death. Through literally peeling back the layers of time, Shorter students will have a first hand opportunity to help write that story.
On weekends during the excavation, students will tour many of the sites connected to biblical events. Following the excavation, Shorter students will have the opportunity to explore the complex nature of Middle Eastern culture and politics. They will be introduced to the Druze religion at Muhraqa and will spend part of a day at a kibbutz that is a center for the study of the Talmud.
On the flip side of the political coin, they will meet with a representative from the Jewish Government and tour the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem. Students will have the opportunity to visit a school that brings Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Druze together not only for education but also for discovering how to live together in peace. They will also have the chance to worship in a Melkite church, and tour the world headquarters of the Baha’i faith in Haifa.
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