In cooperation with MF Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo, in March 2015 the Caspari Center in Jerusalem organized an academically accredited theological course for eighteen master’s of theology students and three professors from MF. With approximately 1,150 students, MF is the largest theological education institution in Norway and one of the largest in the Nordic and Northern European countries.
The four-week course included two in-depth master’s level classes on the Bible, which are compulsory in the six-year cand. theol. program at MF. It combined teaching at Caspari Center with field trips to many relevant historic sites in Jerusalem and her surroundings (e.g. Qumran; Bethlehem) as well as to Galilee and Samaria. It included lectures by the visiting professors (on OT and NT); talks by local lecturers representing Messianic Jews, Palestinian Christians, and various branches of Judaism; and guided tours by Caspari’s own certified guides. Among other things, these tours included visits to a synagogue, to Hebrew Union College, to the Garden Tomb and the Holy Sepulchre, to the Israel Museum and Yad Vashem, and to the Messianic congregation at Immanuel Church in Tel Aviv/Jaffa. We attended special events, including the service at the Great Synagogue on the eve of Purim; we also ascended to the top of Masada at sunrise, hiked two desert wadis, and participated in the traditional Palm Sunday procession to Jerusalem.
The first week, in Jerusalem, was devoted to Old Testament topics (with special emphasis on Zion/Jerusalem); the second week, in Galilee/Samaria, to sites of importance in both the Old Testament and the New Testament (with special emphasis on the Gospel according to Mark); and the third week, back in Jerusalem, was devoted to New Testament topics. In the fourth week, at the Caspari library, the students worked on a required paper as partial fulfillment of the course requirements.
The Caspari Center prepared and coordinated the course to everyone’s complete satisfaction; it couldn’t have been better. Although some days were rather cold, the weather was pleasant and suitable for such a course. There is no doubt that during these weeks the students had many experiences that will be valuable in their personal and spiritual life, in their Bible study, and in their future professional career as pastors; not least, they were made aware of the variety of biblical hermeneutics that different Jewish and Christian groups apply to their interpretations of the Bible, and which they have to deal with as theologians and pastors. The course also showed how important it is to learn about the archaeological sites where the historic events in the Bible took place. To the teachers, it was demonstrated that lecturing “on the spot” is the best way of communicating the message of biblical texts and building a bridge from the past to the present.
It should be obligatory for students of theology to participate in a course such as this. Moreover, the staff at Caspari Center should be commended for making these four weeks a success. It was the third time MF cooperated with Caspari on such in-depth courses, and we in Oslo look forward to further cooperation the next time we make a study aliyah to Jerusalem, hopefully in another two years.
Karl William Weyde