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Where in the World? The importance of Biblical Geography

Tuesday, October 29 at 6:15 pm - 7:45 pm

Fr. William Burton, OFM of St. Mary's Seminary will offer a short course on the geography of biblical lands.  The goal of this course is to help participant's knowledge of the geography that influenced the historical events in scripture.  The class will meet on Tuesdays/Wednesdays for four sessions from 6:15 – 7:45 PM.  The first class will be on 10/22 in the Parish Center, room 102-103.


This short course will consider the geography of biblical lands in general.  Knowing the geography of Israel and her neighbors is important to understanding the historical events in scripture.  In this study we will look at the geographical reasons for the historical movements reflected in the Torah and the prophetic books of the Old Testament.  We will also look at how geography impacts the life and ministry of Jesus.  Lastly it will be important to consider the geography of the post-resurrection church, Paul’s travels and the spread of Christianity into the greater Greco-Roman world.  

About the Classes

Class #1: In the first meeting we will consider the geography of biblical lands in general terms.   Geography is the first and most basic context for scripture.  The major historical events behind biblical history are driven primarily by Israel’s geography and the geography of her ancient neighbors.  And yet this fundamental aspect of scripture study is all but completely overlooked by teachers of scripture and study guides.  It is the geography that will drive the geo-political movements that are the setting for the great biblical stories.  But understanding the geography also helps us understand the cultures that so influenced of the peoples of the Bible.

Class #2:    We will look at biblical geography and begin to understand the geographical reasons for the great historical movements reflected in the Torah and the prophetic books of the Old Testament.

Class #3:    Geographical considerations also affected the life of Jesus and His first followers.  We will look at the significance of geography specifically in the life and ministry of Jesus, as it is recorded in the gospels.  

Class #4:     Our last session will consider the influence of geography is the post-resurrection church: Paul’s travels, the spread of Christianity from the land of Israel to the greater, Greco-Roman world. 

About the Presenter

Fr. Bill Burton, OFM, is a Roman Catholic, Franciscan priest of the Sacred Heart Province. I have an MDiv. from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and an MA in Theology, also from Catholic Theological Union.  I received my Licentiate in Sacred Scripture (SSL) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and my doctorate (STD) from the Pontifical Gregorian University, also in Rome.  In 2002 I received my MEd in Higher Education Administration from Loyola University, Chicago.

I have taught both undergraduate and graduate courses in Biblical Studies at Quincy University, Quincy, Illinois and undergraduate courses at DePaul University in Chicago.  Prior to joining St. Mary’s faculty as a professor of scripture, I was professor of scripture at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in south Florida.  

I am a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Catholic Biblical Association.  I have recently published an introduction to scripture: Abba Isn’t Daddy and Other Biblical Surprises, with Ave Maria Press of Notre Dame University.  I have traveled extensively and studied arduously through Israel/Palestine, Turkey, Egypt, Greece and Italy where I lived for almost 7 years.  Thanks to my education I am able to work with the biblical texts in their original languages and thanks to my travels I have a first hand experience of the environments from which the biblical texts emerged and have led many Bible study pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Jordan and Greece. 

It is in the scriptures that we learn the story of our salvation and pondering that ancient story we become aware of God’s saving love in our lives today.  I can think of nothing more satisfying or fulfilling than a spiritual life enriched by a studious encounter with the Sacred Scriptures and nowhere is that encounter more grace-filled or more effective than in the Holy Land!

Fr. William L. Burton, ofm
St. Mary’s Seminary & University
5400 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, Maryland 21210