Thessalonica in Macedonia

The Capsis hotel in Thessalonica was our home for two nights. Wednesday we used our time visiting the city. Thessalonica (called Thessaloniki now) is in biblical Macedonia. The area is still known as Macedonia, but is not to be confused by the modern country by that name. It is marked on maps of Greece as FYROM (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). I know too little about the dispute to make any comments.

Paul came to Thessalonica on his second journey (A.D. 50-53; Acts 17). He wrote two letters to the church at Thessalonica while he was at Corinth. Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica accompanied Paul on the voyage to Rome (Acts 27:2). When Demas forsook Paul he went to Thessalonica (2 Timothy 4:10).

I went to the Archaeological Museum of Thessalonica thinking I would jump in, make a few shots of some items I had need of and then move along. In fact, I found a new (since my last visit in 2001) museum with wonderful educational exhibits, nice displays, and great lighting.

There is an impressive full-length statue of the Emperor Augustus (30 B.C. to A.D. 14). Augustus was emperor at the time of the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:1). Here is a photo of the top portion of the statue. This gives some indication of the wonderful lighting in the museum. This photo was made without flash.

On the display around the statue of the emperor there is a statement about the cult of the emperor. In our travels in Asia Minor (western Turkey) we saw many evidences that the admiration of the emperor grew into worship of the emperor as a divine being. This placed a real burden on the Christians of the time. It is this type of tribulation that the book of Revelation addresses.

The cult of the emperor was both an instrument of imperial policy progaganda and a means for the transmission of Roman culture. The image of the emperor gives a concrete form to the abstract idea of the Empire. Whether a full-lenth statue [as this one] of a bust, it makes his presence felt everywhere; in outoor and indoor spaces, in fora, in villas, and in libraries.

Elizabeth and I walked down by the harbor to see the colossal statue of Alexander the Great on his horse, ready to go into battle with sword drawn. We must put Alexander of Macedon among the most influential people of world history. His conquest of the areas we know as the Bible world continue to influence us till this day. He left his mark with the introduction of the oikumene concept of one world and the introduction of Greek culture and language. The Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek in Alexandria beginning about 280 B.C. The New Testament was written in Greek. Even Paul, the Hebrew of Hebrews (Philippians 3:5), could speak Greek (Acts 21:37).

We visited the Arch of Galerius on the modern Via Egnatia, one of the main streets of Thessalonca. I made a few photos in the Roman agora before we rushed to get our bags packed to fly back to Athens.

By the time we arrived at our hotel, near the airport we had both decided that we were too tired to try to go to Delphi today. From our hotel room we are enjoying the beautiful view of a small town surrounded by mountains draped by blue sky with white clouds.

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3 responses to “Thessalonica in Macedonia

  1. Quote from your write-up:
    “The New Testament was written in Greek”

    Hi

    Have you any idea as to why the NTBible was originally written in Greek? I think it should have been written in Aramaic the language of Jesus, Mary and his early followers. Jesus was a Jew and his message was not for the Gentiles. Why did he prefer Greek over Aramaic or Hebrew? It does not seem to be natural.

    Thanks

    Please visit my blog.

    I am an Ahmadi a peaceful Muslim

  2. Hi —

    Thanks for your good question. Your general inclination toward Aramaic does seem correct. There have been some (Lamsa, for example) who have contended that the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. All of our oldest manuscripts, beginning in the early second century, are in Greek.

    I think the New Testament was written in Greek because it was the universal language of the day. This made it accessible to both Jews and Greeks. The earliest disciples were Jews, but Gospel is intended for all men (Roman 1:16-17).

    We need more peaceful people in our troubled world.

    Ferrell

  3. nice blog…. thanks for sharing…. :)

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