Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories

22 students from SMU’s Perkins School of Theology — led by Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of the Perkins Global Theological Education Program — are participating in a Palestine-Israel immersion course from Dec. 29 through Jan. 13, 2014. Their itinerary includes lectures and interaction with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and scholars, and travel throughout the region, including to Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho, Bethlehem, Ramallah, the Sea of Galilee, and more.

Follow Dr. Hunt on the Perkins Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/25844609000/ and the blog of Perkins student Scott Gilliland at http://scottandraegan.blogspot.co.il/

The Perkins Global Theological Education Program helps prepare students, pastors, and other Christian leaders to guide congregations into more culturally sensitive, competent, and effective mission both within and outside the United States. The program offers significant hands-on immersion experiences, grass-roots inter-religious dialogue, and exposure to cross-cultural ministries. Learn more at smu.edu/perkins.

In Bethlehem: Headscarves, antiquity, and the conflict

An update from Dr. Robert Hunt, Director, Perkins School of Theology Global Theological Education Program: Let’s start with a headscarf, or scarves, so that you get some idea of Bethlehem. I know that I could talk about the giant, ugly, and much despised wall that Israel has built for its own security, yet which also turns Bethlehem into an apparent prison. The irony being that it also surrounds the tomb of Rachel – so that what was once a lovely site for Hassidic Jews to visit is now enclosed by a huge concrete box topped by barbed wire – with an entrance on the Israel side. Or I could talk about the city itself, which appears to be thriving despite [...]

2014-01-10T13:46:03+00:00 January 9th, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

Jesus wept.

An update from Perkins School of Theology student Scott Gilliland, who is blogging at http://scottandraegan.blogspot.co.il/ I don't understand about 90% of the official "Holy Land Tour," which sounds terrible, I know.  Here I am, 25 years old, with my wife, seeing sites and walking paths and touching places that are incredibly sacred not just to the members of my faith, but for religious and even just-plain-curious people all over the world.  Many people wait and save up their entire lives for the experience I've been provided at such an early age.  And I am grateful. But I don't get the rocks. Maybe it's because I am a western, American, white, Methodist male, but I just don't connect with a bunch [...]

2014-01-10T14:39:20+00:00 January 8th, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

Israel trip Days 10-11

An update from Perkins School of Theology student Scott Gilliland, who is blogging at http://scottandraegan.blogspot.co.il/ I've just realized my title for these blogs is partially incorrect. I'm surprised it took me until now to realize that they should have been titled "Israel/Palestine Trip," out of consideration for the two distinct peoples that occupy this land officially known as "Israel." These last two days we have been based in Bethlehem, which sits just inside the West Bank (named for its geographical location on the western bank of the Jordan River, which is actually on the eastern border of Israel, which is super confusing, but whatever...), so I've become acutely aware of the distinct differences between the Israeli and Palestinian territories. We [...]

2014-01-10T14:39:36+00:00 January 8th, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

From Jerusalem to Nazareth

An update from Perkins School of Theology student Scott Gilliland, who is blogging at http://scottandraegan.blogspot.co.il/ Goodbye Ezra, Hello Johnny!  We made the shift these past two days from the Jewish perspective of Israel (with the help of Shalom Hartman Institute, Dr. Marcie Lenk, and Ezra the Incredible Tour Guide) to the perspective of Johnny the Tour Guide. Just for reference, Johnny is an Arab Christian who lives in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. He is very knowledgeable, occasionally (a tad?) inappropriate, and overall about a 180-turn from the leaders of our last week. Johnny "I've Got Jokes" the Tour Guide. Of course, we have Dr. Hunt with us as always, but it's hard to compete with, [...]

2014-01-07T14:27:58+00:00 January 6th, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

Hats of their fathers

An update from Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of the Perkins Global Theological Education Program: Let me start with a hat - or if you prefer, a kippah (also called yarmulke, from the Aramaic). We had a lecture today to wrap up our visits (over two days) to see the diversity of Jewish Jerusalem. At first glance, men in Jerusalem seem to fall into three categories: broad-brimmed hat wearers in black fedoras, narrower brimmed trilbies, and the kippah. But if you watch out a bit, especially on the Sabbath, you'll see the eight types of hats (not including the kippah) worn by Hasidim, and those worn by the ultra-orthodox, and those worn by the Sephardic and Yemeni Jews, each according to [...]

2014-01-07T12:59:30+00:00 January 4th, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

Struggles with space

An update from Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of the Perkins Global Theological Education Program: Let me start with a map. The distance from the Jordan River (border of Jordan) to the Mediterranean Sea in the center of Israel is just over 40 miles. Everything is compressed. There isn't a lot of physical space. And that space holds a lot of history. Almost anywhere you dig, literally anywhere, you will find layer upon layer of different cultures and civilizations. And that space holds a lot of different peoples. The distinction between Arabs and Jews doesn't begin to express it. There are many kinds of each, including not only theological divisions but essentially ethnic divisions as well. But it isn't just different peoples. [...]

2014-01-07T09:01:57+00:00 January 3rd, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

‘Who is my neighbor?’

An update from Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of the Perkins Global Theological Education Program: Today we looked at social justice in the Talmudic tradition: "And the Torah commands us, 'Do not harden your heart and do not close your hand' to the needy. If your heart hardens, your hand will close and you will see that your fingers are of equal length and then you will say to him (the poor person) – 'Go out and work like me!' But do the opposite, open your hand and then you will see that your fingers are both short and long and this is how God created people, big and small, and this lives from that." - Rabbi Yeshua Lalum (1901-1950) Some hard [...]

2014-01-07T07:50:06+00:00 January 2nd, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

Jewish teaching and learning

An update from Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of the Perkins Global Theological Education Program: First day of 2014 here in Jerusalem. A regular working day. What New Year celebrations they have come from Russian immigrants whose old Soviet home ramped up New Year celebrations to shut down Christmas. Now stripped of the paeans to Soviet socialism, I hear it’s pretty much down to vodka and fireworks. We've been learning about God in the Jewish tradition, but a good deal more as well about the methodology of Jewish teaching and learning. First – start with the text. Second – discuss it vigorously and never dismiss a minority opinion or what appears to be an off-the-wall reading. Why? A note from Donneil Hartman, [...]

2014-01-06T16:09:47+00:00 January 1st, 2014|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|

Arrival in Jerusalem

From Dec. 29 through Jan. 13, 22 students from Perkins School of Theology/Southern Methodist University — led by Dr. Robert Hunt, Director of the Perkins Global Theological Education Program — are participating in the Palestine-Israel immersion course. Their itinerary includes lectures and interaction with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and scholars, and travel throughout the region, including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho, Bethlehem, Ramallah, the Sea of Galilee and more.

2014-01-07T08:17:02+00:00 December 31st, 2013|Theology in Israel and Palestinian Territories|