Geneva students visit the land of the Bible

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Beginning December 28, a group of Geneva students will spend 12 days of their Christmas break exploring the land where Jesus walked and lived. The trip, offered once every two years, is the culmination of a class called Archaeology and Geography of Israel. The trip will be led by Bible professors Dr. Scott Shidemantle, Dr. Jonathan Watt and Dr. Byron Curtis.

"This semester we have been meeting on Monday evenings, learning about the geography of Israel, learning about the art and science of archaeology, and reviewing many of the specific historical sites that we will visit in Israel," Shidemantle says.

For Shidemantle, this trip is a way for students to see, touch and experience what they have learned in the classroom. "For people like me, who love the Bible and who learn best by doing and experiencing, this course and trip will be a blessing!" he says.

Students who have already taken the class agree. "Just seeing the sights that you hear about in the Bible adds a lot of foundation to your faith," says Robert Strength, senior history major.

When the 28 students arrive in Israel, they will stay in Tiberius, a city in Northern Israel on the Sea of Galilee. While there, they will take day trips to places like Dan, Capernaum, and Nazareth.

After a few days they will relocate to a hotel in Jerusalem and take day trips to Jericho, the Dead Sea, Qumran, Masada, Bethlehem, Herodium, Lachish and other major religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. The students will also visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Mount of Olives, the Western Wall, Hezekiah′s Tunnel and the Temple Mount.

"My favorite part would probably be the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Seeing and being able to touch the rock that Christ was crucified on and seeing the tomb that He was buried in was a very humbling experience," Strength says.

Students will also have the opportunity to work and learn at an archaeological sifting operation in Jerusalem. But they won't be focusing entirely on the past. Throughout the trip, professors encourage students to learn about the culture of Israel today.

"They will have lots of opportunities to interact with Muslims, Jews and Middle Eastern Christians of a variety of denominations. The cultural exchange will be quite amazing," he says.

The next trip will be held over the 2011-12 winter break. Interested alumni and friends can e-mail Dr. Scott Shidemantle at for information and updates.

Click here to view photos from the 2007 Israel trip.

By Rocco Palmerine ′10 and Katie Brown ′11
Used with permission of The Cabinet student newspaper.

The Department of Bible, Christian Ministries and Philosophy teaches from a redemptive-historical perspective, in which both the Old Testament and the New Testament are seen as the progressive unfolding of God′s redemptive plan, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Additionally, Bible department faculty members highlight three areas of growth and development for students: scholarship, spiritual formation and practical ministry.