Mary Visits Elizabeth–Traditional En Kerem

October 16, 2020

After the virgin Mary was informed by the angel Gabriel that by “the power of the Highest” she would conceive “and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (Luke 1:31,35), she then went to visit her relative Elizabeth, who was at that time the 6-months expectant mother of John the Baptist. “Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth” (vv. 39-40).

To be clear, the text does not specify which city of Judah in which Zacharias (the priest) and his wife Elizabeth resided. It was a city in the “hill country” of Judah. However the traditional site is that of En Kerem (spelling varies), located about 5 miles west of Jerusalem.

R. Riesner, in his entry entitled, “The Birthplace of John the Baptist” states,

To visit Elizabeth, Mary went “into the hill country [oreinē], to a city of Judah” (Lk 1:39). The Greek word describes the district around Jerusalem (Pliny Nat. Hist. 5.14). A literary tradition that can be traced back to the sixth century identifies the birthplace with En-Kerem (Arabic Ain Karim), seven kilometers west of Jerusalem (ELS 44ff.). Remains of two fourth-century churches indicate, however, that the tradition stretches back to a still-earlier time (GBL II.776). (Archeology and Geography. In J. B. Green & S. McKnight (Eds.), Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (p. 34). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).

Sign indicating our entry into the city: 

En Kerem, Traditional Home of John the Baptism. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

This photo gives you a feel of the surrounding countryside:

Hill country of Judah at En-Kerem. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

The Church of the Visitation commemorates Mary’s visit to Elizabeth.

Church of the Visitation at En-Kerem. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

Here is a view of the top of the Church of the Visitation:

Steeple Tower of the Church of the Visitation. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Of course the point not to be lost is that when Mary heard the wonderful news that she would become the mother of the Messiah, she traveled from her home in Nazareth to visit Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias the priest, in a city in the hill country of Judea. There Elizabeth “was filled with the Holy Spirit,” and spoke, significantly, not about her own child (John) but about Mary, and the child she would have: “But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Hopefully some of our photos can help visualize the area in which this important visit took place.

Click images for larger view.


Exploring Delphi, Greece

October 8, 2020

Delphi, located on the southern slopes of Mount Parnassos, was the site of the sanctuary of Apollo, dating back to about 800 BC. As the sanctuary developed, the Pythia were instituted there. The oracle of Delphi was widely sought by Greeks, foreigners, individuals and statesmen, including King Croesus of Lydia and King Midas of Phrygia.

Delphi was situated at was thought to be the center of the earth, and was thus designated the omphalos, or “navel” of the earth.

Omphalos, navel of the earth, symbolized by this stone. Designated Delphi as the center of the world. Photo ©Leon Mauldin

The Temple of Apollo was an elongated Doric peripteral temple, 4th century BC.

Author’s wife, Linda Mauldin, at the Temple of Apollo, in Delphi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Among the artifacts displayed inside the Delphi Museum is the Sphinx of the Naxians (dating to ca. 560 BC). It stands over two meters tall. The marble sphinx was an offering from the inhabitants of Naxos. This mythical creature with the head of a woman, the chest and wings of a bird, and the body of a lioness, symbolized earthly divinity and heavenly power. The Sphinx stood on a 12.1 meters column that featured one of the first Ionic capitals, and was erected next to the Temple of Apollo in Delphi.

The Naxian Sphinx, Delphi Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Click images for larger view.


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