Jerusalem 2016, Day 2

What any tourist should know about visiting the Old City of Jerusalem is that by rising early, one can walk the streets unimpeded by other tourists! Staging photographs is easy when no one is on the streets to get in the way of a pristine shot. Such was the case this morning at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Normally, this landmark is packed with pilgrims. Many wait to enter the aedicule in the center of the church to inspect and reverence the supposed tomb of Christ. This morning, there was no line at all and I was able to capture this wonderful photograph.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre aediculaBecause of the lack of crowds, I actually entered the aedicule myself for the first time in three visits!

The real coup for me, however, was having the entire Upper Room on Mount Zion all to myself. I fully documented this structure with numerous photographs, rephotographing some parts that were marred in earlier compositions by the presence of visitors.Entrance to Cenacle complex 2

Tomorrow, we will be visiting Mount Zion again and I hope to capture the east wall of the Cenacle structure that stands adjacent a Muslim graveyard. Special permission is required to enter the grounds. If I am fortunate, I will also try to photograph the building from atop the bell tower of the Dormition Abbey next door.

I spent some time also with Mr. Emil Abu-Sa’da, manager of the Dormition Abbey gift shop attempting to interest him in stocking my book on the Upper Room which is only next door to the Abbey. I gave a copy to Emil and he seemed very pleased and eager to read it.

The rest of the day was spent walking the Muristan in the Christian Quarter. I visited and photographed a number of attractions including the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and the Alexander Nevsky Church. In the latter is an arch from the time of the Roman emperor Hadrian (early 2nd century C.E.) which was unearthed beneath the church.

Tonight will be spent in the company of a resident family enjoying a Sabbath dinner. Sabbath starts at sundown on Friday. I am in charge of bringing the wine!

The Upper Room and Tomb of David: Now part of the library at SBF

Church of the CondemnationI had the great privilege of meeting the Secretary and Rector for the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a group of Catholic scholars from Rome’s Pontifica Universitas Antonianum working in Jerusalem. Their school is on the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Sorrows which tradition holds Christ took on his way to crucifixion. Located between the Church of the Flagellation and the Church of the Condemnation (see photo), the SBF has a wonderful museum and an extraordinary library of over 50,000 volumes in multiple languages in the area of Biblical studies. Today my book, The Upper Room and Tomb of David: The History, Art and Archaeology of the Cenacle on Mount Zion became one of them.

It was my pleasure and privilege to hand carry the book and present it in person per the request of the SBF in recognition for the copyright privilege extended to me to use certain illustrations of SBF publications in my own work. The SBF greeted me warmly and took me on an extensive tour of their facilities.

The book also generated buzz at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem where I attended a lecture on the history of the Islamic structures on the Temple Mount. Many renowned archaeologists and historians were in attendance and a great time was had by all.

Back to Jerusalem, 2016

f0179681In less than a week, I will be back in Jerusalem to conduct further research on the western hill of the city now known as Mount Zion. The area surrounding the Cenacle, the so-called Upper Room of the Last Supper sitting atop the presumed Tomb of David, is my primary area of interest. Together with Dr. Shimon Gibson, acclaimed archaeologist and expert on ancient Israel, we will comb through a variety of archives containing unpublished data from a number of excavations that were conducted on the southern part of the hill. It is our hope to collect enough data to publish a valuable resource that other experts can draw upon when conducting their own research.

While in the city, I have plans to meet with a number of folks who were so helpful to me during the research phase for my book, The Upper Room and Tomb of David: The History, Art and Archaeology of the Cenacle on Mount Zion. I will visit the National Library of Israel, the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, the Benedictine Abbey of the Dormition, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and other organizations and individuals who, in one way or another, have connections with Mount Zion and its history.

Hopefully, while I’m there, I will have time to post several blog entries with new photographs for all of you to enjoy. Stay tuned…

My Upper Room article featured on “The Bible and Interpretation” Web Site

The excellent website, “The Bible and Interpretation” ( is now featuring my new article on the Upper Room. In the article, I introduce a number of the issues involved in dating the building and provide a few pictures which also appear in my book. It will serve as an excellent introduction to the topic. For those who wish to delve further into the subject (and there is much more to the building than what is covered here) please check out The Upper Room and Tomb of David: The History, Art and Archaeology of the Cenacle on Mount Zion (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016) available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and directly from the publisher at