JFS is a program created for students who want to study in Jerusalem. It combines classroom study, guided research, excavations, and field trips.
We want to read the Gospels and see the places where the events occurred. This is the old idea of pilgrimage where the places we visit become part of another journey to a city “whose architect and builder is God.” We will also study topics in archaeology, history, philosophy, and geography. You will learn how to recognize a Bronze Age gate when you see one and to explain how a temple discovered at Lachish compares to one at Hazor. You will become familiar with Jewish, Roman and Byzantine mosaics. You will learn to identify artifacts, know where they were found and the historical epoch to which they belong. And you will learn about some of the controversies surrounding their interpretation.
In addition to a well stocked private library, we will make use of some of the excellent public libraries in Jerusalem. Part of your time in Jerusalem will be spent researching a topic and defending a thesis. By the end of the course, you will have a properly researched and well written paper to show for your effort.
Digging an ancient mound is like looking at someone’s browsing history. We may not have Google Analytics for the Bronze Age, but we have the ruins of cities that once flourished, were abandoned or destroyed, and rebuilt again. Some ancient mounds have over twenty distinct layers of occupation. They preserve the ruins of temples, palaces, and tombs; the forgotten things that people once possessed and cherished. They tell a story about civilizations and open a window through which to view our own time and place. We will spend two weeks digging at the site of Et Tell, a likely candidate for the city of Ai mentioned in the Bible. The dig will take place under the auspices of Titus Kennedy with the Apxaioc Institute for Biblical Research.
We will combine classroom study with day trips to sites in and around Jerusalem and overnight trips to northern, southern and coastal regions. We will also visit Jordan. Here are some of the places we may visit:
- The Israel Museum (we will visit the museum on multiple occasions depending on the topic we are studying), Yad Vashem, Armenian Museum
- Qumran, Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea (day trip)
- Mamre and Hebron (day trip)
- Gezer and Lachish (day trip)
- The Wilderness of Zin, Timnah, Eilat, Masada, Arad (3 days – one night camping in the desert, one night in Eilat)
- Ai, Bethel, Jericho (day trip)
- Gath, Azekah, Elah Valley, K. Keiafa (day trip)
- Shiloh, Mt. Gerizim, Tel Balata (Shechem), Samaria (day trip)
- Bet Shean, Gilboa Mountains, Bet Alpha, Hazor, Dan, Banias, the Golan, the Galilee, Nazareth, Sepphoris, Megiddo (4 days, 3 nights)
- The last days of Jesus in Jerusalem (day trip)
- Jaffa, Caesarea, Aphek, Dor, Carmel, Acco (2 days, one night on the beach)
- The Jordan National Museum
- Gadara, Pella, Machaniam / Penuel, Tishbi, Deir Alla
- Gerassa, Rabbah Amman, Heshbon, Madaba, Nebo, Peor
- Aroer, Dibon, Atararuz, Khirbet Tannur
- Wadi Rum (overnight)
- Petra, Bosrah, Selah
- Bab ed Drah, Arnon (hike)
We are limiting the group size and restricting enrollment. This means we can move faster and go places larger groups cannot. We want to go off the beaten track! Our accommodations in Jerusalem will be comfortable but not luxurious. We recognize that students have limited resources, and so we want to keep the cost down. One way to do this is to introduce you to several of the very interesting food markets in Jerusalem and let you take turns buying and cooking meals for the group. This will give you an opportunity to experience another side of Israel.
This will be a chance for you to unplug. The program will require a lot of hard work and a willingness to serve. But we hope that through it you will grow in your faith in Christ, and that your time in Israel will be a step towards preparing you to meet whatever challenges that lie ahead.