August is a crazy month! We’ve had a family reunion, friends moving, friends visiting, and next week — in a span of less than seven days — we will close on a house, move into it, and then depart for the Mediterranean for two weeks. Israel and Turkey are our destination. My sister, who is coming north to watch the kids, will spend a full weekend in our new house before my wife and I will! So this month has been a hive of preparing to move (again), as well as preparing for a terrific two week study trip.
You can the progress of Christy and I on our trip at our Turkey blog site: In the Footsteps of the Disciples.
How are we preparing? Reading books on the Apostle Paul, Revelation, and the early church. I recently finished “The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary from the Church’s Conservative Icon”, and am working on “Paul” by NT Wright. I am midway through “Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now” – highly recommended.
Also doing some exercising, as we will be hiking four to six miles a day as we visit some incredible archaeological ruins. Further, doing some memorizing of biblical texts, as well as learning things about these cities we will be visiting such as key temples and social factors, as well as geographical details such as significant rivers, mountains, and other realities.
We are also packing – trying to pack light but also be prepared for possible scenarios — such as no toilet paper in the bathrooms (a common occurrence in Turkey – I’ve been in that situation, no toilet paper, no toilet, just a hole in the ground, and if you’re lucky, a bucket of water. Enough details.).
We will be traveling to many of the early church sites on our trip. After a few days in Galilee, we will go where the disciples went from their early rural roots into the more cosmopolitan and Hellenistic territory of Asia Minor. As they encounter cities like Ephesus, Laodicea, Hierapolis, Philadelphia and Smyrna, how did they deal with the reality of the Roman Empire and pagan religions which everywhere promoted “peace, prosperity, freedom and salvation”? What did it mean to call Jesus “Lord” in a culture that was convinced Caesar was Lord? What in the world is really going on in the crazy apocalyptic book of Revelation? Was it about some future cataclysmic clash of good and evil? These are some of the exciting things we will be learning as we travel from Bethsaida, Capernaum and Tiberius in Galilee to Cappadocia, Galatia, Lycia and Phrygia in Asia Minor.
Check back for updates, and check out our trip blog!