Study Abroad:
Biblical Theology in the Holy Land

May 31 - June 14, 2020

Our 2-week Holy Land Tour of Israel will transform the Bible into vivid reality as you are immersed in the land where the Incarnation took place. You will visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Galilee, and many other places so familiar from scripture. You will develop a more intimate understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as you smell the air, feel the sun on your skin, and touch the very rocks that He and the Disciples may have touched.

Want to know more? We had an info session on November 20. If you missed it, be sure to check out the recording.

Students pose for a group shot while studying abroad in the Holy Land

Program Cost: $3,750 per participant
($250 deposit + $3,500 balance)

Single room option available for an additional $550.

Registration for Benedictine Students

If you are not a Benedictine College student, and want to take the course for credit, please register here

If you are not a Benedictine College student, and want to participate without taking the course for credit, please register here

Last day to register:  February 29, 2020

Questions? Contact us to learn more.

The summer 2020 program, led by Benedictine College Professor of Theology Dr. Mark J. Zia, will integrate the geography and archeology of the Holy Land within the canonical framework of salvation history as presented in the Bible. We will visit places that mark the traditional sites of key events in the life of Christ (e.g., His birth, passion, death, resurrection, ascension) as well as places of significance for His earthly ministry of teaching and healing (e.g. the Mount of the Beatitudes; Mount Tabor; Sea of Galilee). The group will also visit Masada/Qumran, given the historical and extra-biblical significance of the region. The goal is that the students who take this course develop a more intimate understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and come to appreciate the theology of geography of the Holy Land, the “fifth Gospel.”

The program is designed for undergraduate students, however applicants seeking adult formation will also be considered for participation Although it is deeply desirable that the experience of the Holy Land will be a powerful source of re-evangelization for participants in this trip, the primary focus is an academic focus on the life, teachings and mission of Jesus Christ as presented in the four Gospels.

Participants will have a first-hand experience of the Holy Land's wonders and complexities. The Holy Land is an incredible mosaic where history, religion, art, archaeology, spirituality, geopolitics, natural wonders and multi-ethnic coexistence, meet and sometimes are at odds with each other.

Accompanying Professor: Dr. Mark Zia

Dr. Mark Zia

Dr. Mark J. Zia is a Professor of Sacred Theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he has taught for nearly 15 years. He earned his Doctorate in Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, dissertating on the doctrine of biblical inspiration. Dr. Zia regularly teaches classes in biblical theology, including courses on the Pentateuch, Synoptic Gospels, Gospel of John, and Biblical Hermeneutics. He is also actively involved in the academic formation of candidates for the permanent diaconate for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, and beyond.

Before coming to Benedictine, he taught theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austrian campus and then at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr. Zia is a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and a perpetual member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He has published several articles and three books, and is currently working on a fourth. Of particular interest is his book on Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, The Enduring Faith and Timeless Truths of Fulton Sheen, given the current preparations in the USA for Sheen’s Beatification.

Program Information and Costs

  • There will be an average of 2 hours each morning of lectures, coupled with whole-day immersions of exploring the places where Jesus lived, taught, worked miracles, suffered, died, and rose again. There will be required readings, reflection papers, and at least one exam.
  • Textbooks required for the course are the Bible (Preferred edition: RSV-2CE) and “The Life of Christ” by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

Program duration: 2 weeks

Credit hours: 3 - fulfills a Faith foundation for Benedictine College students

Program Fee: $3,750 per participant ($250 deposit + $3,500 balance)

Payment Information: When you register, you will be required to pay a $250 deposit toward the total cost of the program. At registration, you may also opt to pay either the remainder of the full cost of the program or half of the remainder of the full cost of the program.

  • Half of the remainder of the program is due by February 28, 2020.
  • The other half of the remainder of the program is due by March 30, 2020.
  • The trip must be paid in full by March 30, 2020.

The price includes:

  • Assistance at the airport upon arrival and departure
  • Air-conditioned coach transportation
  • Accommodation in religious institutes / guesthouses as indicated in the program, in triple-quadruple room
  • Breakfast and dinner in the first part of the trip; two lunches and the farewell dinner for the rest of the trip (see itinerary for details)
  • Chaperone provided by our local partner ATS for the duration of the stay
  • Three-credit hour undergraduate tuition for the course (participants who do not take the course for credit still pay the full program price)

The price does not include:

  • Airfare from/to the US
  • Most lunches, 8 breakfasts and 7 dinners in Jerusalem (see itinerary for details)
  • Drinks with included meals
  • Personal extras, and anything not specifically mentioned under “the price includes”

Physical Activity Rating: Slightly strenuous. May require extended walking over uneven ground as well as the ability to climb stairs and to stand for considerable periods of time.

There is a Department of State level 2 travel advisory (level 2 means “exercise increased caution”) regarding Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, that you can read here.

Despite the travel warning, pilgrimages and guided tours take place on a regular basis; there is no specific threat along the main tourist itineraries, unless a crisis erupts in the region—in that case the trip will be cancelled.

The Gaza strip and some locations in the West Bank are the most dangerous areas, but are excluded from itineraries. We will definitely not go to the Gaza strip; we will just briefly visit a few of the safest locations in the West Bank (Bethlehem, the Jordan valley, Jericho, Sebastia, and Jerusalem’s Old City).

We will have an ATS local staff with us during our site visits. One of the group leaders accompanying the group, Daniel Musso, lived in Israel for ten years and is familiar with the geography, as well as with the complexities of the cultural, social, and political aspects of the place. Participants are asked to stay with the group and consult the group leaders if they want to walk away from the group for any reason. We will have our own bus and will not use public transportation.

It is important to understand that the nature of the conflict is different than in other areas in the Middle East. The conflict is chiefly between Israel and Palestine; it is not - and is not perceived - as being between western countries and Arab countries. Moreover, international aid provided by western countries is the main source of support for the Palestinian Authority. Tourists coming from western countries are generally seen as beneficial for local economies. Both parties are interested in not alienating the support of the western countries.

Security concerns may vary according to different factors, i.e., in which part of the country you are, time of the day, etc. Referring to the group leaders and local guides is the best way to learn what to do and what not to do in a certain context.

The participants will be required to attend a pre-departure information meeting (offered in person and remotely) and will receive a detailed program handbook.

Sunday, May 31DEPARTURE From the USA
Monday, June 1ARRIVAL DAY - Arrival at Tel Aviv airport | Bus ride to Nazareth | Check-in in Nazareth | Dinner (included) | Kick-off meeting | Overnight in Nazareth
Tuesday, June 2COURSE INTRODUCTION; THE ANNUNCIATION - Breakfast (included) | Class from 8:30 am to 11:30 am | Noon: Angelus at the Grotto of the Annunciation | Lunch on your own | Visit St. Gabriel Orthodox Church | Visit the Basilica of the Annunciation, St. Joseph’s Church | Mt. Precipice | Dinner (included) | After Dinner class discussion | Overnight in Nazareth
Wednesday, June 3THE FIRST MIRACLE AND THE DISCIPLES - Breakfast (included) | Class from 8:00 to 10:00 am | Cana of Galilee | Lunch on your own | Capernaum, the Multiplication site, the Primacy of Peter | Dinner (included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Tiberias
Thursday, June 4THE KINGDOM OF GOD (1) - Breakfast (included) | Class from 8:00 to 10:00 am | Boat ride on the Sea of Galilee with readings/talk on the boat | Lunch on your own | Mount of the Beatitudes | Bus ride to Banias, talk in the bus | Visit to Banias – the annunciation of the Passion, Peter’s confession | Bus to Tiberias | Dinner (included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Tiberias
Friday, June 5THE KINGDOM OF GOD (2) - Breakfast (included) | Mt. Tabor | Ride along Samaria’s route to Jerusalem, talk in the bus | Lunch on your own | Jacob’s well Dinner (included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Sebastia
Saturday, June 6THE KINGDOM OF GOD (3) - Breakfast (included) | Class from 9:00 to 10:00 am | Visit to St. John the Baptist’s tomb | Bus ride to Jerusalem | Lunch break on your own | Church of the Pater Noster | Church of Dominus Flevit | Meeting with church leader | Dinner (not included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Jerusalem
Sunday, June 7ESSENES AND ZELOTS - Masada: The Jewish Revolt | Lunch on your own | Qumran: The Essenes | The Dead Sea | Mass in Bethany (tentative) | Dinner (not included) | Overnight in Jerusalem
Monday, June 8MARY IN JERUSALEM - Class from 9:00 to 11:00 am | Ein Karem | Lunch (included) | Visitation, St. John the Baptist Church | Mount Zion: Upper Room, Dormition Church | Dinner (not included) | Overnight in Jerusalem
Tuesday, June 9THE NATIVITY - Class from 8:00 to 10:00 am | Bus to Beit Sahur, visit of the Shepherds’ Field | Lunch on your own | Bethlehem, Basilica and Grotto of the Nativity, Milk Grotto | (Meeting with Bethlehem University - tentative) | Return  to Jerusalem | Dinner (not included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Jerusalem
Wednesday, June 10BAPTISM AND TEMPTATIONS - Class from 8:00 to 10:00 am | Bus ride from Jerusalem along the Jordan Valley | Lunch in Jericho (included) | Jericho, view of the Temptations Mount | Baptismal site | Bus ride back to Jerusalem | Dinner (not included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Jerusalem
Thursday, June 11THE LAST SUPPER - Class from 9:00 to 10:00 am | St. Peter in Gallicantu | Lunch on your own | GETHSEMANE - Gethsemane: Basilica of the Agony, Grotto of the Betrayal, Tomb of the Blessed Virgin Mary | Towards the Via Dolorosa: Church of St. Anne and pools of Bethesda | Dinner (not included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Jerusalem
Friday, June 12THE CRUCIFIXION - Class from 8:00 to 10:00 am | Church of the Flagellation | The Via Dolorosa | The Calvary | Lunch on your own | The Holy Sepulcher | Dinner (not included) | Class discussion | Overnight in Jerusalem
Saturday, June 13THE RESURRECTION - Class from 8:00 to 10:00 am | Emmaus (Nicopolis) | Lunch on your own | The Ascension site on the Mount of Olives | Israel Museum: Model of Jerusalem, Shrine of the Book | Farewell Dinner (included) | Overnight in Jerusalem
Sunday, June 14DEPARTURE From Israel

This program is offered in collaboration with WorldBound Learning Projects and ATS Pro Terra Sancta.

WorldBound’s mission is to provide affordable, life-changing, and academically engaging international education solutions to institutions of higher education, serving students and administrators alike in their desire to learn on a global scale and to build relationships among people. Learn more at

ATS Pro Terra Sancta is a nonprofit organization in support of the Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land. ATS carries out projects to preserve the Holy Places, support local communities and bring aid in humanitarian emergencies. ATS fosters a lasting bond with the Holy Places and the ancient Christian communities living there. Learn more at