Toilets in flight


Why does the sight of a crane lifting portable potties high into the sky create such interest? 

Is it the perversity of seeing one of them spin slowly before snagging on the top of a palm tree? Is it the idea of the cable breaking and watching one come crashing down? Is it  . . . now I must be careful here . . . the delicious thought of someone being caught unknowingly inside as the whole thing suddenly goes airborne? Yeee-oooww!

My goodness! 

Whatever the case, they packed up the porta-potties at Caesarea-by-the-Sea and trucked them away. 

Now on to the ruins!


If you or someone you know is interested in experiencing Caesarea in a new way, consider joining one of our trips scheduled for 2020 or 2021! These educational experiences operate as part of the ministry of the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies. Find a trip that works with your schedule by clicking the link here or contact me directly at We are currently working on group reservations for 2022.

Not exactly what Vitruvius intended

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Roman theaters, like this reconstructed example at Caesarea-by-the-Sea, had elaborate backsets on the rear of the stage. These sets were decorative but had practical functions too: they were used by the actors, they served as storage spaces, and they also helped “control” the sound inside the room. These backsets were called the scaenae frons or the “facade of the tent” (from the Greek skene for “tent” or “hut.” It is likely that early backsets were simple structures used by the actors to hide themselves from the spectators and to create dramatic mystery.). In later times, they were made of carved stone.

The electronic set pictured here converts ancient space for modern use. I’m sure it offers “control” for the sound, but it just seems out of place in such a setting (sigh).

Oh, by the way, Vitruvius was a Roman architect who described how things were built two thousand years ago. Imagine his response to this! Do you think he would have been pleased?


We just picked up our first group of the summer in Tel Aviv. We are now headed inland to the Sea of Galilee.

Sorry for the delay in posting. I should be getting back to business this week. Thanks for following.

Rock concert

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Justin Sutherland strikes a pose in the rain.

The striking architecture of Caesarea-by-the-Sea was erected between 22-10 BC by Herod the Great. At the time, structures such as this theater were foreign in the Heartland. Herod accelerated the import of technology and the culture of the West and put his Eastern domain on the map. This opulence in stonework is nowhere as visible as in the Roman theater pictured here, the first of many built in the region.

The featured stone of the Caesarea is kurkar, a local sandstone.

Photo taken by Bible Land Explorer Jess Poettker.


Jess (left) and Justin (above) are a part of the residency program of Johnson University. This program leads to a Master of Strategic Ministry degree. It involves a collaborative relationship between JU and local churches and is designed to equip students for effective, strategic Christian leadership. It includes a study-tour to Israel/Palestine.

To learn more about JU’s residencies, see the link here.

"If not for this site, you wouldn't be here."

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I utter these words every time we settle into this Roman theater. The phrase is awkward by itself. But if you put in context, it makes perfect sense.

The theater is located at a site known as Caesarea-by-the-Sea. It was a wind-swept rubble pile when archaeologists began restoration efforts in the 1950s. Today the place has been wonderfully restored and is visited by millions every year.

One can sit on the sandstone seats of the theater and gaze toward the Mediterranean. It is the perfect spot to imagine how astounding this city must have been in its prime. According to Josephus, this provincial capital was built by Herod the Great (“the baby-killer” of the Christmas story) in the decade between 22 and 12 BC. It has all the accruements of a first-century Italian transplant.

According to Luke the Evangelist it was here that a Roman centurion by the name of Cornelius had a vision (see Acts 10). This revelation prompted “Pentecost II,” the spark that leaped over the fireline and out of the Jewish circle. Christianity moved with speed and force from “Caesar-city” into the non-Jewish world.

That’s why I say it. If not for Caesarea-by-the-sea and the events associated with this place, I doubt that Gentiles like you and me would be sitting here. But because it did, the world as we know it has been profoundly changed.


Caesarea-by-the-sea is a highlight on nearly all of our study-tours in the Israel-Palestine. We stop at the theater, visit the promontory palace, walk the hippodrome, explore a Crusader fortress, and imagine the harbor at the center of it all.

You really should consider joining us this summer. We have spaces available on three different trips. Find the dates here and email me at for details.