IMG_4582A group of 18 students, alums, faculty/staff and friends of Perkins School of Theology-SMU visited significant sites today in and near Bethlehem.

First, King Herod’s fortress-palace – Herodium – which lies between Bethlehem and the Dead Sea. Now a national park, the site holds what some archeologists believe to be the tomb of King Herod.

Next, the group toured the Shepherds’ Field – believed to be the site of the angel’s announcement to shepherds of the birth of Jesus.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve for Orthodox Christians, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was filled with pilgrims – including the Perkins immersion group – eager to see the location traditionally known as the site of the birth of Jesus. Tomorrow, sites will include the fortress of Masada, the Dead Sea, Qumran, and Jericho.

Faculty leader of the Palestine-Israel course is Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, associate professor of New Testament at Perkins School of Theology.