Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: June 09, 2019

Studying ancient texts is fascinating. But it’s one thing to examine them in a stuffy classroom, and quite another to immerse yourself in the world from which they originated. Just ask the South Korean students studying the Hebrew Bible bang in the middle of the Holy Land.

You won’t have much difficulty finding them. Over the past few years, the Bible department at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan has hosted numerous students from South Korea who have traveled across the world to study sacred texts in their original language and setting.

One such student is Kim Kyoungsik, a 38-year-old Christian pastor from Seoul.

“As a Christian, we know the Hebrew Bible; we call it the Old Testament,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “I was born as a Christian, so since I was very young I read the Bible and I heard the message of the Bible from parents and church, and naturally I wanted to learn Hebrew to understand the Hebrew Bible in its original language.”

In Korea he could not learn the Hebrew language at a deep level, he adds. “I also have a great interest in the Holy Land itself, so I also wanted to experience the geography of Israel.”

Kyoungsik is now completing his doctoral dissertation on plot conventions in the Scroll of Esther, and recently returned home after studying in Israel for almost eight years.

“I could experience the Bible and Israel through the physical geography. I traveled a lot during my studies and that kind of experience cannot be done in other countries,” he notes. His favorite discovery was the Judean desert.

“The desert is a very symbolic place in the Bible,” he notes. “A very hard place to live, but depicted as a place of meeting between God and the people of Israel. So we cannot live in the desert without divine assistance.”

Kyoungsik was surprised by Israel’s diversity. “There are various kinds of people and various religions are coexisting,” he says. “Obviously there are conflicts because of the coexistence, but I find that is another aspect of our future. We have to learn how to coexist with others.”

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