Category Archives: Book of Acts

Changes at the Bema in Corinth

Luke records, in the book of Acts, an important historical event involving Paul during the 18 months he worked at Corinth (Acts 18:12-17).

The photo below, made in May 2012, shows the actual platform or bema mentioned in Acts 18. Popular English versions use the terms tribunal, judgment seat, place of judgment, or judge’s bench.

The Bema at Corinth where Paul stood before Gallio. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Bema at Corinth where Paul stood before Gallio. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The bema dates to A.D. 44, but could be as early as the time of Augustus (Murphy-O’Connor, St. Paul’s Corinth, 28).

You see that some sort of work was going on around the bema. Notice the rope, the pile of sand, and the bags on the top. I remarked to some of our tour members that we formerly were able to stand on the bema. I feared this might be an end to that practice.

Yesterday I was catching up on some blogs that I enjoy reading. One of those is Gordon Franz’ Life and Land. Gordon was writing about a tour he led earlier this year. One line caught my attention. In telling about the visit to Corinth, Gordon says,

Recently the Bema was repaired and reopened so tourists can walk up and stand where Gallio passed judgment on the Apostle Paul (Acts 18:12-17).

Anyone have a nice photo to share of the bema since the restoration?

 

Hadrian’s Arch in Antalya (Attalia)

Many of the Roman ruins we see in the Bible World belong to the early second century. This illustrates the tremendous power of the Empire throughout the region at that time.

Hadrian ruled from A.D. 117-138. We know that one of the major persecutions against Christians came during his reign. Many arches were constructed to honor him. The most impressive Roman ruin in Antalya (Attalia of Acts 14:25) is Hadrian’s Arch. The three-arch gateway was extensively restored between 1960 and 1963.

Hadrian's Arch in Antalya, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hadrian’s Arch in Antalya, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The area around the arch bustles with tourists.

Mark Wilson speaks to group in Antalya

Dr. Mark Wilson shared a meal with us at the hotel one evening in Antalya, Turkey. After dinner Mark spoke to the group about his work in Turkey. He is the founder and director of the Asia Minor Research Center, and spends most of each year working and doing research in Turkey. He has updated several of the works of Sir William M. Ramsay, and written several helpful books on the book of Revelation. You will find much helpful material by Dr. Wilson on the Seven Church Network web site.

Our tour group heard a brief preview of the presentation Dr. Wilson plans for one of the upcoming annual professional biblical studies meetings in San Diego, California. He has been working on discovering the projected route of Paul’s Second Journey in Anatolia based on the biblical text, known roads, milestones, etc. from the first century. This was ideal for our group who had just completed a tour visiting all of the sites associated with Paul’s First Journey in Anatolia (modern Turkey).

Dr. Mark Wilson speaks about the route of Paul's second journey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dr. Mark Wilson speaks about the route of Paul’s second journey in Anatolia to a tour group in Antalya, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We were pleased to see Dr. Wilson’s book, Biblical Turkey: A Guide to Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor, available in many of the museum books stores including the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. Many of our tour members who did not already have a copy of the book got one from Mark after the presentation. You may purchase a copy from Amazon by clicking on the title above.

Tour members were delighted to have their book autographed by the author.

Dr. Wilson autographs a copy of Biblical Turkey for Stacy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dr. Wilson autographs a copy of Biblical Turkey for Stacy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Traveling in Turkey

“Turkey? Why would you want to go to Turkey?” That is a question I have been asked a number of times over the years since my first visit in 1968. My response usually goes something like this. If you are interested in Bible history, Turkey is very important both for the Old Testament and the New Testament. Of course, the land was not called Turkey at the time of the Bible, but had various names depending on the historical period and the geographical region.

Think of the Old Testament history.

  • It is possible that the Garden of Eden was located somewhere in the mountains of eastern Turkey near the source of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (Genesis 2:10-14).
  • For sure, Noah’s Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (ancient Urartu) (Genesis 8:4).
  • Haran, and the region known as Padan-aram in Mesopotamia, became the ancestral home of Abraham and his family before he went to the land of Canaan (Genesis 28:2; et al.).
  • Bible kings were involved in battles with world powers at the town of Carchemish (Jeremiah 46:2).
  • The Hittites lived in central and eastern Turkey (1 Kings 10:28-29; 2 Kings 7:6). Kue designates Cilicia in Turkey.
  • Both the Assyrians and Babylonians, enemies of Israel, were active in this region (Isaiah 10:9; Jeremiah 46:1-2).
  • The Euphrates and the Tigris, great rivers of Turkey, were important in Bible times (Isaiah 27:12; Genesis 2:14; Daniel 10:4). The Euphrates is often designated simply as the River (Isaiah 11:16).

Think of New Testament history.

  • Paul was a native of Tarsus in Cilicia (Acts 21:39). Timothy was a native of Lystra (Acts 16:1).
  • From Acts 11 onward throughout the New Testament, most of the events take place in Roman Asia Minor.
  • The town we know as Antioch in (the Roman province of) Syria is now located in the Hatay province of Turkey (Acts 11; Galatians 2:11).
  • Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark sailed from Seleucia to begin the first missionary journey (Acts 13:4).
  • With the exception of Salamis and Paphos in Cyprus, all of the places associated with the first journey are in Turkey (Acts 13-14).
  • Many of the towns visited on the second and third journey are in Turkey (Acts 15-16).
  • Paul made stops at the coastal town of Myra on the voyage to Rome (Acts 27:5).
  • Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon were address to churches or persons in Asia Minor.
  • Peter’s two letters were addressed to Christians in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, now in Turkey (1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 3:1). Peter also visited Antioch in Syria (Galatians 2:11).
  • The apostle John spent some of his latter years in Ephesus, and addressed the book of Revelation to seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4, 11).
Hot air balloons are moved by the wind over the lunar-like landscape of Cappadocia while the pilots control their altitude. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hot air balloons are moved by the wind over the lunar-like landscape of Cappadocia while the pilots control their altitude. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Post New Testament church history.

  • The Book of Revelation describes events that would affect the saints of Asia (Revelation 1:4). The information we have about the Roman Emperors and the temples erected to their honor throughout Turkey fit perfectly with what we read in Revelation.
  • The Ecumenical Councils met in the place we now call Turkey in the following cities: Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon.
  • Some of the better known early church fathers are associated with places in Turkey.

Good enough reasons to visit Turkey, I’d say.

Note: This is intended only as a suggestive list; not a complete one.

 

A visit to Nicaea in Bithynia.

Today  my friend Leon and I made a 10 hour trip from Istanbul to Iznik, Turkey. Iznik is the name of ancient Nicaea (Nicea) in Bithynia. This is a region of Asia Minor into which Paul was not allowed by the Spirit to travel. Instead, he was directed to go down to Troas where he received the call to come over into Macedonia.

And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. (Acts 16:7-8 ESV

Bithynia is across from Istanbul on the south side of the Sea of Marmara. It is a beautiful mountainous region with valleys filled with olive trees and fruit orchards.

The Epistles of Peter are addressed to saints living in Bithynia, but no specific towns are mentioned (1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 3:1).

The Roman province of Bithynia. BibleAtlas.org.

The Roman province of Bithynia. BibleAtlas.org.

The modern town of Iznik utilizes the layout of ancient Nicaea. Nicaea was the site of the first and seventh of the ecumenical councils held between 325 and 787 A.D. Hopefully I will be able to write more about these councils and their importance in the history of Christianity at a later time.

For today I wanted to share a photo I made of a little lighthouse in the fresh water Lake Iznik.

Lighthouse in Lake Iznik. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lighthouse in Lake Iznik. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some Museums in Turkey

My Ancient Crossroads Tour of Biblical and Historical Turkey is compete. Yesterday most of the tour members returned home. A few had other plans of travel before returning.

There are some wonderful museums in Turkey, but many of them are undergoing restoration at this time.

We missed seeing the main section of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara due to restoration. A nice,  small section containing mostly classical materials was open, but the great collection of Hittite materials (our reason for going there) was closed. According to an article in the Harriyet Daily News it reopened last Friday.

The Archaeological Museum in Antakya (Antioch of Syria, Acts 11, 13) was almost bare. Only a few of the lesser quality mosaics were on the walls. A new museum will open soon. I had told the group that we would see some good Hittite materials there, but they had already been moved. Incidentally, the Church of St. Peter and the Simon Stylites Monastery were also closed for renovation.

We did better at the fabulous museum in Antalya (Attalia of Acts 14:25). The Roman period statuary from Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25) is housed there.

In Istanbul we were able to visit the Ancient Orient section of the Archaeological Museum. The museum containing material from the classical world was closed. An excellent selection of materials was housed in a small area of the Museum.  The third floor, where artifacts from Palestine are housed was closed. Our appeal for entry failed.  There is where some very famous pieces are housed − the Siloam Tunnel inscription, the Gezer Calendar, the Herodian Temple inscription forbidding gentiles from entering the Temple, et al.

The Ancient Orient building houses a large number of bulls, dragons, and oxen from the procession street of ancient Babylon. I think it is second only to the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. There are excellent Hittite materials, including the oldest treaty between nations. It is the treaty between the Hittites and Pharaoh Ramses of Egypt after the battle of Kadesh on the Orontes. There are several pieces from the Assyrians, and a clay cylinder from the time of Nebuchadnezzar.

Here is a picture of one of the basalt Hittite column bases from Sinjerli. It is a double sphinx, dating to the 8th century B.C., that came from the entrance to Palace III.

Hittite Column Base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Front view of Hittite column base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Below is the side view of this column base. Note that the figure of a lion shows a human head and wings of a bird. This provides a good illustration for the apocalyptic imagery in Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation.

Side view of Hittite Column Base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Side view of Hittite Column Base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

These are the Hittites with whom the ancient Israelites had dealings. Solomon imported horses and chariots from Egypt and Kue and exported them to the Hittites (1 Kings 10:29). See 2 Kings 7:6 for another reference to these people in the days of the prophet Elisha.

All things considered, maybe it didn’t turn out so bad after all.

Excavations at Derbe

The first excavations ever have begun at the ancient city of Derbe. Derbe was visited by the Apostle Paul and Barnabas on the first preaching journey (Acts 14:20-21). Paul returned with Silas on the second journey (Acts 16:1).

Today our tour group visited Kerti Hüyuk, the site widely believed to be ancient Derbe. Several squares were opened on the top of the mound in 2013.

Recent excavation at Derbe. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, May 14, 2014.

Recent excavation at Derbe. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins, May 14, 2014.

The report in a Turkish newspaper quotes Associate Professor Mehmet Tekocak of Selçuk University:

So far the excavations have unearthed ancient wall remains. “There are brick and stone walls. We found graves and skeletons inside the walls. Anthropologic works will reveal the ages and genders of these skeletons and how they died. Works show us that this place received a lot of damage, and most architectural materials were removed for use in other places. This place was seen as a kind of stone quarry. We found the remains of a church-like structure, and we believe that we will find new structures as excavations continue. Even these remains alone show us that a Christian society lived in this tumulus,” Tekocak said.

There is no hint as to the age of the church-like structure.

See the report in Hurriyet Daily News here. We look forward to future reports from Derbe.

HT: HolyLandPhotos Blog.

The tour photo

We spent the full day in Cappadocia. As usual with our tour, we have a local photographer to make a group photo at one of the interesting spots we visit. Our photo this time was made at Uchisar. Do you know anyone in our group?

Ancient Crossroads Tour of Biblical and Historical Turkey. Photo taken at Uchisar in Cappadocia. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ancient Crossroads Tour of Biblical and Historical Turkey. Photo taken at Uchisar in Cappadocia. Click on photo for a larger image.

The Bible tells us that Jews of Cappadocia were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9). Peter wrote his epistles to saints scattered throughout Cappadocia and other places in Roman Asia Minor (modern Turkey).

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:1-2)

John Freely describes Cappadocia in these words:

“Most of this part of Cappadocia is covered with a deep layer of tufa, a soft stone of solidified mud, ash and lava which once poured down from the now extinct volcanoes on Hasan Dagi and Ericiyes Dagi, the two great mountain peaks of Cappadocia. In the eons since then the rivers of the region have scoured canyons, gorges, valleys and gulleys through the soft and porous stone, and the elements have eroded it into fantastic crags, folds, turrets, pyramids, spires, needles, stalagmites, and cones, creating a vast outdoor display of stone sculptures in an incredible variety of shapes and colours” (The Companion Guide to Turkey, 238).

In the centuries after New Testament times many Christians settled in this volcanic region of perhaps 50,000 cones.

Regarding the Visualizing Isaiah series

The response to the Visualizing Isaiah series has been good by my estimation. Numerous readers have written that they enjoyed/profited by the series. Several bloggers have linked to the series and a few have re-blogged almost all of them to their readers.

This was an ambitious project. First, there was the responsibility to understand Isaiah well enough to make appropriate comments. Second, the selection of good photos was quite a task. I often looked through photos from various Bible sites and/or several museums with Ancient Near Eastern collections to locate what I thought was the right image. Some chapters offered numerous possibilities; others were a bit more difficult.

Hopefully I will be able to continue the series later. At this time I must take a break because I will be traveling in the Bible world most of May. I do plan to post something most days to indicate where I am traveling.

I trust that the Isaiah series has illustrated how you can enhance your study and teaching with visuals. You may say, “but I haven’t been to all of those places.” But you can search this blog for illustrations. Some time back we provided illustrations for the entire book of Acts. You can go to your Pictorial Library of Bible Lands collection and find the photos you need. Or, search the Bible Places Blog, or the Holy Land Photos’ Blog, or the vast collection at Holy Land Photos, or David Padfield’s collection here.

For my next series, I plan to select a shorter book such as Philemon or Jude.

Just in case some of you are looking ahead to Isaiah 41, I will include an image to help with verses 15-16.

Behold, I make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff; you shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the LORD; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.  (Isaiah 41:15-16 ESV)

Winnowing at Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Winnowing at Shechem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Empty Tomb

The Gospel of Mark provides a brief account of the events of the first day of the week after the crucifixion of Jesus. The women went to the tomb of Jesus to anoint his body. The approach of the Sabbath did not allow this on Friday.

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.
2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.

These grieving women were concerned about the removal of the large stone that had been rolled over the tomb opening and sealed by the Roman authorities. They were surprised when they discovered that the stone had already been removed.

3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”
4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back–it was very large.

Perhaps they thought that some others, unknown to them, had come to provide the same service. They were alarmed to see the young man in a white robe.

5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed.

The message was an unexpected one, but one that they were to share with his disciples and Peter and to tell them to update their appointment calendar to include a meeting with Jesus in Galilee.

6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”
8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. (Mark 16:1-8 ESV)

The message that these women took with them was that the tomb was empty and that Jesus had risen from the grave. From this time forward He would be acknowledged by believers as Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).

An empty Roman period tomb with a rolling stone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

An empty Roman period tomb with a rolling stone. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This is a rerun from April 8, 2012, but I think it is one that is still relevant.