Today in class we covered the book of Jonah. Steven Anderson, the Ph.D. student who is here with me, carefully presented material that answered common objections to the literal nature of this book. It seems to me that students here don't have problem with the supernatural and so are not bothered by many of the concerns of students in North America. I then spent about 2 1/2 hours going through the book almost verse-by-verse with application. The students really seemed to enjoy the classes.
After class one of our students Fares, who also works at JETS as the acting Dean of Students, took us for a good lunch at KFC! Just like at home but a little more limited in choice (Pepsi, Miranda Orange, or 7Up) and the smoking in restaurants can be like a reminder of days gone by in America!
This afternoon Chris, a wonderful British man who has lived in Jordan for almost 2 decades and who teaches a course in Geography of Jordan, gave us a great tour to Jerash (Gerasa in the Bible; see Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26). On the way we stopped at the Jabbok River where I got my picture taken with Chris. This is the river that Jacob crossed in Genesis 32 and where he wrestled with God. Today much of the water is used by the booming Jordanian population.
North of the Jabbok is one of the greatest Decapolis cities, today called Jerash. After entering through a monumental gate the city's main street called the Cardo (heart) must stretch for a mile. You walk past the Hippodrome, the South Gate, the Temple of Zeus, the South Theater, the Oval Plaza, the Macellum (meat market), the Nymphaeum (public water fountain), the Temple of Artemis, past lots of places still to be excavated, the West Bath House, the North Theater, and the North Gate. When you see many of these places you are reminded of the struggles the early Christians often had: should we go to the theater were many seats are dedicated to gods, are the house races and all that goes on a place for believers, do we eat the meat in the market since it has come from the temples, what should we think about the gods/statues in the niches at the major cross streets, how should we think about the inscriptions on the gate about the Roman Emperor being the lord, the autocrat, etc. etc.?
Now I am back in Amman, tired, a little hot, but thankful for this unique opportunity I have to teach the Bible and visit the land of the Bible at the same time. I am thankful for all the Lord's blessings today.