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Bethany Beyond the Jordan becoming global pilgrimage destination

I’ve written more than once about Bethany beyond the Jordanhere and here.

Pilgrims walking int he steps of Jesus, John the Baptist and Elijah in the glade of Bethany Beyond the Jordan. So it is no surprise when I read in the Jordan Times that the place where John Baptized Jesus is increasingly becoming global pilgrimage destination as – officials in Amman state:

Officials at the Baptism Site said on Tuesday major headway is being made on several projects set to transform the area into a global pilgrimage destination.

“The infrastructure work for the Russian Pilgrimage House, the Roman Catholic Church on the east bank of the Jordan River as well as the Greek Orthodox monastery have been completed and others are on track as planned,” Baptism Site Commission (BSC) Director Dia Madani told The Jordan Times yesterday.

Myself, I was excited to see the progress on the Greek Orthodox monastery last year as compared to 2004 – though I wish I could have gone inside for a look.

Personal account aside (for the moment) the Jordan Times article goes onto describe the long-term plan accommodate religious pilgrimages by offering places of worship and praise; stating:

Once the churches are built and monks and priests settle in, the entire concept of the site will be transformed from a historically important site to a leading destination for Christian pilgrimage,” Madani said, adding that the site will be open 20 hours a day and offer facilities for pilgrims who choose to spend the night.

The Roman Catholic Church, to be erected in a pyramid shape using old stones used in biblical times, will be located in a 5,000-square-metre complex including a monastery and an indoor baptismal pool.

The Russian Pilgrimage House, being built on 30 dunums of land donated by His Majesty King Abdullah, will be managed by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The article also discusses a convention center … I’m not so sure I like that idea … but that depends on where said structure would be geolocated and what it would do to the visual impact of the existing site where not only Jesus was Baptized, but John the Baptist Roamed and Elijah ascended.

All that said, here’s a link to the rest of the Jordan Times story: Bethany Beyond the Jordan becoming global pilgrimage destination.

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And if the JT article isn’t enough, no sweat, I’ve provided below a few more links on the topic:

  • The Identification of Bethany Beyond the Jordan (BiblePlaces.com) A detailed examination of various possible locations, from the doctoral dissertation of J. Carl Laney. PDF format.
  • Bethany Beyond Jordan: John the Baptist: In the Decapolis (Dabar.org) A survey of the various positions by W. W. Winter of Cincinnati Bible Seminary, with good footnotes and the correct conclusion, in our opinion.
  • Bethany: Sunrise of Faith (Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities) Offers several pages of information about the Baptism Site in Wadi Al-Kharrar with some photos of the area.
  • Baptism Site – Bethany (The Baptism Site) Describes the archaeological survey of Wadi El-Kharrar and presents the historical data of early pilgrims relating to the baptism site of Jesus. A description of the excavations in the area, including Elijah’s Hill, the prayer hall, the cistern, the pools, and the churches, is located here. Also, a detailed discussion of the water system is found here.
  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan (ASOR) Lengthy article describing the archaeological findings in Wadi Kharrar.
  • Holy Sites (Jordan Tourism Board) Provides a discussion of the site and its history as well as some pictures.
  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan (Walking in Their Sandals) Thoroughly discusses the issues involved in identifying Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Also briefly discusses its historical and biblical significance.
  • Bethany Beyond the Jordan (Catholic Encyclopedia) Presents the evidence for preferring the reading “Bethabara” over “Bethany,” but in the end settles on “Bethany.

Oh yeah, add to that my account from 2004 simply entitled “Where John Baptized Jesus” – I think it’ll minister many of you struggling to find some form of contact with the Christ.

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