STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 05/09/2016

Faculty Sabbatical: The Glory That Was (and Is) Rome

by Dr. Steve Hunt | Department of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries

Each year a small percentage of Gordon faculty are on sabbaticals, semester-long breaks from normal teaching and administrative responsibilities. This set-apart time—the word sabbatical is derived from the Hebrew shabbat—frees them for intensive research, writing or other scholarly work. 

I had long wished to immerse myself in the dirt and dust, the history and art, the basilicas and museums of Rome. To walk in St. Paul’s footsteps on the Appian Way. To visit his tomb at
St. Paul Outside the Walls. With the generous grant of release time through Gordon’s sabbatical program, I have now made that dream a reality. In the late summer and fall of 2015, Bridget and I moved our family to Italy for three months so I could create a new course, Reading Romans in Rome, for the Gordon IN Orvieto program.

Up with the sun, most nights we did not return until late in the evening. I would then stay up most of the night reading more about what I had seen that day and/or planning our  next day’s adventure. I would also ice my feet.

We saw ancient frescoes and amazing mosaics, and more church relics related to Jesus and the early church than I can remember. We walked this piazza and that piazza and a dozen more besides. We spent significant time in St. Peter’s, the Catacombs, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Palatine hill, Circus Maximus, Largo Argentina, Hadrian’s Mausoleum, Trajan’s column, Augustus’ Ara Pacis, Nerva’s Forum, the Theater of  Marcellus and the Borghese gardens. We saw Caravaggio paintings, Bernini sculptures, Michaelangelo architecture.

We walked ancient roads in Trastevere and modern jogging paths along the Tiber. We strolled the tiny little alleyways of the Jewish Ghetto, noting the names (marked in paving stones) of those
poor souls who were rounded up by the Nazis in 1943. We also walked the Corso, a main road that becomes pedestrian-friendly every evening.

I’m still culling through 12,000-plus photos. I suppose, if they’re honest, William (15) and Lindsey (13) will say they don’t need to see any more marble busts of dead emperors. As for our little ones, Parker (4) and Anders (1), they were really very good despite how hard we pushed them. To paraphrase a famous Roman, we came, we saw, we conquered. But our feet still hurt.