Reflections on My Time at Hebrew University
By William den Hollander II, Toronto
In 2009, I was busy working on my doctorate in ancient history at York University in Toronto, focusing on the first-century Jewish historian Josephus. One of my professors told me about Canadian Friends of the Hebrew University and suggested I apply for a scholarship to study at Hebrew University for a semester. When CFHU responded with a generous offer of support, I began to make plans to spend late January to early May of 2010 in Jerusalem with my wife, Diane, and our then 18-month-old son, Gabriel. I doubled up on my teaching responsibilities in the fall semester so that the winter was fully available.
I can honestly say that those four months were a significant highlight for us. Because I was busy doing research for my dissertation and wasn’t tied to the classroom, we had the freedom to tour around the country exploring the sites where my favourite ancient historian had lived and traveled. I also had occasion to discuss my fledgling project with prominent local scholars in the field.
I’m convinced these experiences lent a vitality and verve to my work on Josephus that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Maybe that’s just my imagination but you can judge the truth of it by reading for yourself: Josephus, the Emperors, and the City of Rome: From Hostage to Historian (Brill, 2014).
As family, we still frequently recall our time spent in Jerusalem and regularly go through our pictures. In the meantime, I finished my doctorate, subsequently obtained a Master of Divinity at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary in Hamilton, ON and took up my calling in pastoral ministry at the Canadian Reformed Church of Langley, BC.
Recently (May 2019), we had the great privilege and pleasure of returning to Israel when I hosted a tour of Jordan and Israel. The highpoint for both my wife and me was returning to our old stomping grounds in Jerusalem and sharing the familiar sights, smells and sounds with our fellow tour members.
In May 2020, I will be leaving pastoral ministry to take up an appointment as Professor of New Testament at the seminary where I studied a short time ago. This will give me the opportunity to return to the world of academia and, hopefully, our most recent trip to Israel won’t be our last.