Sunday 29 January 2006

Essential travel for theologians

Old Testament scholar Joe Cathey has travelled extensively, so I asked him to come up with a list of “essential travel for theologians,” based on his own experience. Joe divides his recommendations into four main sections: Africa, the UK, Europe, and the Middle East. Obviously this is not intended as an exhaustive list—so let us know if you have any other suggestions to add.

1. Africa
In Africa, first visit Tunisia—this lovely area in North Africa is the birthplace of much of the Early Church (Augustine and Tertullian). Then go to Kenya, which is a lovely spot, especially on the coast. It is caught up with both the Old and New Africa. You should also visit Tanzania in order to see the poorer areas of Africa. If you visit one of the poorer countries, you have a sense of what Africa is really like.

2. United Kingdom
In England, visit St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Wesley’s Chapel, Salisbury Cathedral, St Mary de Crypt Church, Oxford University, Cambridge University, The British Museum, and The Cambridge Museum.

3. Europe
In France, visit the Louvre (and eat in the nice restaurant “Brasserie de Louvre”), and make sure you spend at least a whole day at Notre Dame.

In Switzerland, go first to Geneva. Visit the St Pierre Cathedral (the high point in French Gothic architecture) and the Lausanne Cathedral (one of the most beautiful of all gothic cathedrals). You must also take a trip up to Jungfraujoch while in Interlaken.

In Italy, the first place to visit is of course St Peter’s in Rome. You should take the tour of the Vatican; my favorite is of course the Sistine Chapel—absolutely splendid! Go also to the Roman Colosseum and the Catacombs of Callixtus. There are Roman cathedrals by the hundreds, so for these you should consult a reputable online guide or book. I had to see the Abbey at Mt Cassino, because it is where my Grandfather accepted Christ as his savior during the Second World War.

4. The Middle East
In Israel, one of the first places to visit is Hafia, specifically the Hechet Museum. Moving down from Hafia you come next to Tel-Aviv, and you must go to the Beth Hatefutsoth, the museum of the Diaspora. One of the more beautiful museums in Israel is the Eretz Israel Museum. I absolutely love the Nechushtan Pavilion, but then again my interest lies in the ancient areas of Israel’s history. Interesting for biblical scholars are museums such as the Bible Lands Museum, the Israel Museum, the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Collection, the Rockefeller Museum, and Tower of David.

Make sure you also take time to visit the Dead Sea, Qumran and Ein Gedi, Massada and the Jordan River. At a minimum I would want to see the Old City—Jerusalem, Megiddo, Hazor, Tel-Aviv, and some outlying areas.

For the church historian there are so many sites that I can’t begin to list them all. The Church of the Nativity is of course a must for the first time visitor. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre would also be high on many people’s lists. Likewise the Western Wall is quite spectacular, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the Shrine of the Book.

Elsewhere in the Middles East, be sure to visit Petra in Jordan (but please do not look for the Lost Cup of Christ, as Dr Jones has already found it), and Istanbul in Turkey.


Al said...

I guess I ought to put in a word for St. Andrews...

Chris Tilling said...

Great list Joe!

But …

1) Amen Alastair! After all, you've got the various Scottish reformers, the old parliament house, the ruined cathedral, the ancient Celtic church ...

2) But then I guess we'd both be a bit biased on that front. What I'd really like mention of though is my own beloved Tübingen! After all, not only is it home to a couple of ‘living legends’, but has roots that go back to 1477, and is connected with such names as:

*Ferdinand Christian Baur
*Albert Ritschl
*Strauss, wrote his ‘Life of Jesus’ while working as a tutor in Tübingen
*Philipp Melanchthon
*Eberhard Jüngel
*Hans Küng
*Peter Stuhlmacher
*Ernst Käsemann
*The famous ‘Tübingen school’ is so important as well. Cf. William Baird subtitles his recent ‘History of New Testament Research’ with ‘From Deism to Tubingen’
*And Hegel was a student there!

… and there are more …

I would suggest that a visit to Tübingen belongs on any ‘essential travel’ for theologians! And if any decide to pop by, I’ll personally show you the sights!

Here are a few (!!) more names to add to the list.

Ben Myers said...

Amen to Tübingen, Chris (although, sadly, I haven't yet been there myself): and you forgot to mention Jürgen Moltmann!

Chris Tilling said...

Oops!! I knew I was forgetting an important one! And I'm reading two of his books at the moment!

Jim said...

Dreadful list really. First, the only place one need see in Africa is Cairo and Thebes. The UK- nice place though it is- holds nothing for the Theologian. In Europe- disregard France- no significant theology was born there. Rather, go To Zurich (left off Joe's list for some inexplicable reason), then Geneva, then move on to Germany and visit Marburg, Tubingen, and Berlin. Then in the Middle East be sure to visit Israel and then visit Greece.

Ben Myers said...

Hi Jim -- "no significant theology born in France"? What about Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, Pierre d'Ailly, Jean Calvin, Moïse Amyraut, René Descartes, Nicolas Malebranche, Teilhard de Chardin, Henri de Lubac, Paul Ricoeur...?

You're right about Germany and Greece though (and I thought you would also put in a good word for Copenhagen!).

Rory Shiner said...

Ben, this essentials list made me think your next one should be "20 buildings for theologians". Well beyond my expertise, but I'd be interested to read someone elses. You'd have to watch that it wasn't just 20 cathedrals, though. And it would need to include buildings of architectural significance, not just places where famous theologians have lived.
Just a thought...

Jim said...

I considered Calvin but placed him in Geneva, where he did his work. Not France. And Yad Vashem was included by me in my all encompassing "Israel". As to Copenhagen- history yes, theology- no (unless one considers Kierkegaard to be a theologian- but I don't. Philosopher yes).

Anonymous said...

What, no Bob Jones University (BJU) in Greenville South Carolina!

Anonymous said...

Oh, how the East suffers in these lists! :-P

In Russia, here is a very partial list:

The Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow) and the Hermitage (Petersburg), for the icons, especially Rublev's work.

Sergeev Posad, a religious town filled with churches. You'll find the statue of Sergei Radonezhskij about ten feet from a bust of Lenin. :-)

The churches of Petersburg (Spas-na-krovi, Kazan Cathedral, and Isaac's Cathedral).

Taman, formerly Tmutarakan, has some interesting religious landmarks and artifacts from the pre-Christian era.

Finally, there is a beautiful church just by the VDNKh stop on the Moscow metro. I always have to spend an hour looking up the name, but it is a beautiful, undiscovered gem I am convinced. It has these black onion domes covered with stars.

One shouldn't miss the Peter and Paul Fortress, where Dostoevsky was held. The nearby cemetary has a number of famous people buried in it.

Oh, and of course Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow. I found the interior somewhat disappointing--it looks very Western. But the outside is breathtaking, and the story is pretty interesting. It was razed by the Bolsheviks, and Stalin hoped to erect a Palace of the Soviets (strikingly church-like) in its place. Several attempts were made that all failed, and they put in a heated swimming pool instead. It was rebuilt in five years between 1995 and 2000 by the state, which angered a lot of people, as other buildings in Moscow desperately need repair (such as the journalism dept. of Moscow State University).

It's a beautiful church, though.

Anonymous said...

As usual, in the UK the Welsh are marginalised!
St. David's (in Pembrokeshire), one of the homes of Celtic Christianity - a must.

Anonymous said...

For France:
I'm surprised Taize isn't on the list.

For the UK, I'm with Kim on St David's. And I'd add Iona and Holy Island (aka Lindisfarne). And Wesley's Chapel, of course.

The UK holds nothing for the theologian indeed! At the very least, come to Swansea for a chat with Kim & me!

Anonymous said...

And just think (as Batman needed the Joker), where would Augustine - and therefore where would the Western Church - be without that great Celtic heresiarch Pelagius!

Ben Myers said...

Excellent point, Kim. For just this reason, I think you could say that Pelagius (along with Arius) is one of the most important theological thinkers in the history of the church!

Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...

To all the above,

Thank you for your kind comments. Ben asked me to compose a list of places I had visited or thought were essential for theologians. Since I have not visited every site (and I wanted to have some personal commentary) I chose mostly places I had visited. I am sure that all the places you all recommend are great but we only have so much time while on vacation. Thanks Ben for allowing me to write this post.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks, Joe -- I hope I live long enough to visit half these places myself!

Anna Blanch said...

How have I not seen this post before. I'd like to add St Andrews - especially if you are interested in John Knox or any of the other martyrs -- you know -- martyred here...

Anonymous said...

I missed this post before. Apparently, Joe Cathey has never been to Latin America. Visit the Jesuit seminary at the University of the Americas in El Salvador where the death squads murdered the priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in the 1980s--and theologian Jon Sobrino escaped only because he was lecturing out of the country! One must visit Medellin in Mejico, the University of Lima in Peru, and the Franciscan seminary in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

North America does have a few places for the theologian--though less than most. Visit McGill University in Montreal where most of Douglass John Hall's work was done. One should see Regent College because of its place in evangelical renewal.

Although not much passing for theology is currently being done at Harvard Divinity School, one should still visit it for it's past-beginning with the Puritans, moving through the Unitarian takeover and the founding of the Divinity School as an ecumenical faculty through the 1960s. Yale's desert was the '60s and '70s before being rejuvenated in the '80s, but I wonder if it has begun to plateau again. Rhode Island needs to be visited for Roger Williams and the early Baptists and Philadelphia for the early Quaker presence on this continent.

Union Seminary of NYC is a must visit, but in that same area one can see the Jewish Theological Seminary (where Abraham Joshua Heschel taught!!), Riverside Church, East Harlem Protestant Parish, Abyssinian Baptist Church. Then go to "Clinton" which used to be called Hell's Kitchen to see where Rauschenbusch found that pietist theology wasn't enough of an answer to slum life.

The University of Chicago Divinity School is beautiful and, as long as Kathryn Tanner and Dwight Hopkins keep pressing on, real theology will still be taught there--though the vibrancy of the classic liberal tradition and the early process folk has long fled and has been replaced with "religious studies" types.

Go see the University of Notre Dame at South Bend, IN for some of the best that American Catholicism produced--and to view "touchdown Jesus" to remind yourself that this IS America. (Sigh.)

Much that is theologically important to see in the U.S. is not nice: The place where the Salem witches were burned in Mass., the courthouse at Boston Common where Mary Dyer and other Quakers were hung by the Puritans--and where Obadiah Holmes and other Baptists were whipped and kept in the stocks; any slave block--the ones in New Orleans are deeply moving; Wounded Knee where Native Americans were massacred twice in a century's time; the Civil Rights museum in Birmingham, AL.

Actually, I was surprised that more places like this were not listed in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, as well.

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