Jenny tells me that people keep asking her when I’m going to post something new on my sabbatical blog. So here’s what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks.

I had a lovely holiday for the first week of the period in question with the Revd Ade Evans and Mr Chris Bright QC, who came to visit me. We walked around Jerusalem a fair bit, drove down to Masada, and then up to Tiberias. They asked me lots of questions which I couldn’t answer and then, sadly for me, they went home.

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The Revd Ade Evans looking cool in the courtyard of Christ Church Guest House

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Mr Chris Bright QC considering whether a spot of rappelling might be in order

The highlights for me (next to the deep theological reflection which we of course engaged in daily) were (1) the “Tomb of the Prophets” on the Mount of Olives, and (2) excavated Magdala in the Galilee. I loved the sweet apologetic nature of the Russian Orthodox chap who seems to live in (1) who knew full well that Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi had never really been buried there, but wasn’t allowed to admit it. And I had a great conversation with the Mexican archaeologists at (2) who had absolutely no idea why a few (and just a few) Herodian ashlars had turned up in the Magdalene synagogue. “We’re hoping someone will come up with a theory” they told me.

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Excavated synagogue at Magdala

 

As for the second week, I have mostly spent it in the library. Sorry, I know that’s a bit dull.

Although on Thursday I got to visit the inside of the Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, both of which have been mostly closed to tourists since the Second Intifada. I also visited the Jewish Quarter, where I had an exhausting conversation with a party of schoolgirls at the Cardo, who were very keen to know if I personally knew One Direction. And I met a chap called Evan, who, like me, was trying to gain access to the Israelite tower uncovered by Nahman Avigad in the 60’s. We failed: it’s locked up because of the drug addicts, and no-one seems to know who has the key to the gate which guards it.

The library work, I fully understand, is not of much interest beyond the world of my own small mind – it all relates to a long fascination I have had with the prophecy of Zephaniah.

And so now, I am drinking this.

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It is made by nuns.