Dr. Robert Beckstrom, the dean of Arts and Humanities at Lorain County Community College, took a trip to the Holy Land last summer. While visiting Jerusalem, Beckstrom took a course that allowed him to gain an extensive understanding of the Holy Land and the surrounding geography.
“I was always interested in the Holy Land,” said Beckstrom. “It was a place that I had always wanted to visit and I am glad that I got to do so.”
The University College of Jerusalem were doing courses on the region, Beckstrom said.
“The college was offering a course that would allow for an in-depth visit to the region and I took advantage,” said Beckstrom. “A simple tour would not force you to get a good understanding of the land.”
‘Setting’ plays a huge factor in stories and the Bible is no different, he explained.
“Setting is something that we tend to gloss over or not think too much about,” said Beckstrom. “But the geography can color the story a great deal. You can really draw the meaning of a story’s setting if you actually visit the location.”
The course was valuable but could, according to Beckstrom, but at times could be physically grueling.
“[We] need to sign-off with a physician before we could start,” said Beckstrom. “I walked up the Romans Siege Ramp and down Snake Path in Masada. It was roughly five to six hours a day and we walked in 110-degree heat.”
Canyons in the Negev desert region were among the many places that the group hiked during their course.
“Name a place in the Bible and we likely went,” said Beckstrom. “There were very few locations that we ended up bypassing. We visited Ashkelon, the former philistine capital, Jericho, and the Jordan River.”
There is something there to learn for anyone interested in the region, Beckstrom added.
“There are a lot of seminaries there,” said Beckstrom. “Name your religious tradition and there is something for you.”
The course had them staying at the sight long after a tour would have left and that the course was more of an investigation into the region, Beckstrom explained.
“It was the first course I took in over 35 years,” he said. “One of the tests, for example, was to draw an in-depth map that mapped out the trade routes and the pivot points.”
The presentation was hosted by LCCC’s Sacred Landmark Initiative, which seeks to provide informational sessions like Dr. Beckstrom’s, gallery tours, and fine art performances to show Lorain
County’s religious diversity.
“It is about the importance that landscape has and how geography can drive a story,” said Patricia Mack, LCCC’s liaison for the Initiative. “The Sacred Landmark Initiative seeks to bring awareness to landmarks, such as what Dr. Beckstrom talked about in his presentation and that is why we put on the event.”