Well, I thought I would have time to blog about my experiences in Jerusalem, but the day flies by so fast, my head spins at night wondering where the time went! I just have to give a more detailed set of blog posts about the archaeological and historic sites of the old city later. But let me say a few words (and share some photos) about studying at the Ecolé Biblique de Jérusalem (or EBAF).

Front Gate and Address for the Ecolé Biblique
housed at St. Stephen’s monastery
Photo Credit © 2016 Max Lee

I will say that the hospitality and research set-up at the Ecolé Biblique has been wonderful. A scholar’s dream really. My sleeping quarters are modest and clean. The food is delicious, and in a good way, you will lose weight. It’s mostly fresh vegetables and fruit, salads (two or three), all types of bread (but Mediterranean pita is the best!), various pastas, and sometimes fish, chicken and other meats. I have not eaten this healthy in a while. 

To the left is a typical meal at EBAF: salads, pasta, steamed vegetables,
stuffed potatoe with eggplant, Lebanese loquat (the orange fruit), banana, water,
coffee (as much as I want!). To the right is a typical room with bed and desk,
You share a kitchen sink and bathroom with the adjoining room across the hall

The library is excellent, good wifi, and a very good antiquities section. They even have Galen’s 3-volume treatise On the Doctrines of Hippocrates and Plato on hand! If, however, you are a New Testament scholar interested in Jewish backgrounds, especially the Qumran scrolls, or an Old Testament scholar, the selections are not only very good but outstanding. You can check out their holdings here
    One thing to note that is especially helpful of their catalogue is that they (actually 3 committed librarians in the back) maintain a searchable database that lists out not just the books of an author but their individual essays. Most catalogues do not list out every essay separately for a given scholar. Type in “Troels Engberg-Pedersen” in an electronic catalogue and you will get all his books, but type this same search in EBAF’s catalogue and you get a listing of books and hard-to-find essays hidden in various anthologies and Festschriften. 

Reference Section of the EBAF. There are two floors and their holdings
are organized by section: Antiquities (including Greek and Roman materials;
this is where I hang out!), Old Testament, New Testament, Qumran, Patristics,
Medieval Church History, etc. You get 24-hour access and can work all night!

   When you arrive, the folks at the EBAF get you settled, give you a quick library orientation, and set you up at a desk where you can work and leave your laptop.

Modest desk set up at the EBAF but it does the job! You can plug in, get
good wifi, leave your books and laptop there to return later. Not shown are the
scanners, copiers (40 Agorot each copy = $0.10 each; scanning is free), desktop
computers, outside lounge area with coffee machine, water, etc.

   I think the best thing about the EBAF is their wonderful community of Dominican priests, nuns, and visiting scholars in an ecumenical setting. I have been having some wonderful conversations at the meal times over work, scholarship, parish life and the politics of Israel. In the mornings and evenings, there are prayer chapels. Although everything is in French, and I sing horribly, it is an experience to share in the Roman Catholic piety of those who take their service and mission in East Jersusalem with such passion.

The beautiful interior of St. Stephen’s Church located on the campus of
the EBAF and monastery. The middle mural/fresco before the altar is the Lord
Jesus, to your left is St. John, and to your right, St. Stephen. Imagine how beautiful
and awe-inspiring it is to have a prayer chapel here every morning and evening
Photo Credit © 2016 Max Lee

   Last thing, old Jersusalem is less than a 10 minute walk away from the EBAF. I do it in 5. Walk down the hill on the Nablus Road and you run into the stunning Damascus Gate. 

The stunning Damascus Gate which leads into the Muslim Quarter
Photo Credit © 2016 Max Lee

Walk through the gate and you are in the Muslim quarter, hang a right and you head to the Christian quarter, walk straight and you’ll find your way to the Jewish quarter, and farthest away is the Armenian quarter. 

As soon as you weave your way through the Damascus Gate, you walk onto Souk 
Khan al-Zeit Street with its various shops lining its edges in the Muslim Quarter

   It was hard not to spend the first day just exploring the sites in Jersualem and so I have already visited all four quarters of the city, walked fully around the pathway/roads around Jersualem’s walls (a 2 hour walk), and seen the Western Wall, Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock, the underground excavations under the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives and Church of All Nations (Gethsemane), the Kidron Valley, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and more. Too much to do. Too much to see. One month here now feels painfully short. 
   P.S.: I probably won’t post any more until after I return from my trip unless I get writer’s block and need to do something random to move forward in my work. So until I get back, blessings! MJL

Postscript 4/10/16: added an extra photo of the shops/bazaar lining the streets of the Muslim quarter