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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

AGTV video
Connections: Marc Turnage

Studying the Bible in Context

Marc Turnage, director of the Assemblies of God Center for Holy Lands Studies, recently spoke with Editor Ken Horn.

evangel: What is the mission of the Center for Holy Lands Studies?
Primarily, the mission for the Center for Holy Lands Studies is to revolutionize the way people in the Assemblies of God study the Word of God. It is to resource the Fellowship, to reinvigorate the spiritual experience of the participants, and to provide opportunities for ministers, students, laity, professors from AG institutions and churches with opportunities to study the Bible in context, in the lands of the Bible. We want to educate constituents in the physical, historical and cultural realities of the Bible to help them better understand the Word of God.

evangel: How did you come to the place where the Holy Lands were so important to you?
I had two opportunities to actually spend extended time in Israel while an undergraduate student. That transformed the way I read the Bible. I decided it was important, actually it was imperative, for me to get into the land of the Bible. So I lived in Israel for six years. I did my master’s work at Jerusalem University College. I did post-graduate and doctoral studies at Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. My entire immersion for those six years was in the cultural, historical and linguistic world of the Bible.

At the same time, in order to support my family, I started guiding groups in Israel. I have continued guiding groups since 1997 and have led groups to Jordan, Egypt, Greece and Turkey as well.

evangel: Explain the “s” on Holy “Lands” Studies.
We want the Center for Holy Lands Studies to not target solely the land of Israel, which is extremely important and is at the heart of what we do. But the Bible takes place in lands other than just the land of Israel. So we have programs where we take people to Jordan, Egypt, Greece and Turkey. We’re looking at also expanding to include Italy as well as Syria and Lebanon.

evangel: What was it like to actually live in Israel?
I met my wife there; she was also an American in Israel studying. Living there provided an immersive experience. Just being in the culture, you start to draw out and understand this cultural world that shaped the Bible.

evangel: What is the goal of a trip to the Holy Lands?
We try to give people the same kind of an immersive feel with our trips that you would experience if you lived there. It’s not enough to just take people and say, “OK, now you’ve seen the Sea of Galilee or Bethlehem or Jerusalem or Capernaum or whatever,” but we want to use the physical setting of Scripture as a doorway to enter into the world and the thought of the Bible. To strip away 21 centuries and sit at the feet of Jesus and try to listen to Him as His first-century audience listened to Him.

That’s what we really try to do — to use the land as that staging ground to kind of step back in history so that when people come away from the program, their ability to interact with the Scripture is just that much richer.

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