Category Archives: Church History

More on the Vandalization of the Protestant Cemetery in Jerusalem

This is a brief follow-up on our report here of the vandalization of the Protestant Cemetery. Trent Dutton, “Our man in Jerusalem”, reports that once AP released a story about the vandalism, several Middle East and American news outlets have come to the cemetery for photographs, and have re-posted the story.

Fox News:

Washington Times:

Ma’an News (Jordanian) discusses this in the context of the general problem faced by some Arabs:


The aerial photo below shows the Church of the Dormitian, the Catholic, Armenian, and Greek cemeteries in the upper left portion. Along the bottom of the photo, overlooking the road along the south of the Old City where it joins with the Hebron Road, is the Jerusalem University College. The Protestant Cemetery can be seen among the trees just above our copyright notice. Click on the photo for a larger image.

Aerial photo of the Protestant Cemetery. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial photo of the Protestant Cemetery. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

You can probably see that it would be rather easy for one to enter the cemetery from the road below.

HT: Trent Dutton

Huge columns said to be 1900-years-old found buried at Laodicea

Hurriyet Daily News reported today the discovery of a large number of “1,900-year-old huge columns” at Laodicea.

Excavations in the Aegean province of Denizli’s ancient city of Laodicea have revealed 1,900-year-old huge columns seven meters underground. The columns were found in the area known as the northern agora, one of the oldest faith centers in Anatolia.

The head of the excavations, Professor Celal Şimşek, said the northern agora had been discovered last year and they were continuing restoration and conservation work there. He said the area was one of the largest agoras in Anatolia. “The columned galleries here are in a rectangular shape on an area of 35,000 square meters. We previously revived the columned galleries that we call the eastern porch. This year we found the extension of these columns seven meters underground. They were in the same condition as when an earthquake ruined them. The columns date back to 1,900 years ago. Dust erosion and residue have filled the earth here and preserved the columns.”

Şimşek said their goal was to finish the excavations by the end of the year and to revive the columns in the beginning of the next year. He said the ancient city of Laodicea had served as a religious center.

“When the columned galleries are completely unearthed, there will be a very nice touring area. Tourists will have the chance to see traces from the past up close.”

A nice gallery of photos illustrate the article. One is a drawing showing how the area may have looked before being destroyed by earthquake. We are given no hint how the age of the columns was determined and whether the earthquake that felled them was also about 1,900 years old. Mark Wilson says,

Because of earthquakes the city was rebuilt numerous times during its history. A devastating earthquake during the reign of Focas (AD 602-10) finally caused the site to be abandoned. The residents founded a new city called Ladik, now the Kaleiçi district of Denizli. — Biblical Turkey, 247.

Laodicea is mentioned only in Paul’s epistle to the Colossians (2:1; 4:13-16) and in the Book of Revelation (1:11; 3:14). Paul says that Epaphras worked diligently for the saints in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. These were cities of the Lycus River valley.

We have visited Laodicea several times over the years and been delighted with the archaeological reconstruction underway. The city should be on everyone’s list of “must see” sites of Turkey. Turkey has approximately 1100 historical sites, and the country has made considerable progress in preparing some of them for visitors. Use the search box on this blog to locate previous entries about Laodicea.

Tourists on the Syrian Street at Laodicea. Colossae is located at the foot of Mount Cadmus, seen in the distance to the east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tourists on the Syrian Street at Laodicea. Colossae is located at the foot of Mount Cadmus, seen in the distance to the east. Hierapolis is to the north (our left as we view the photo). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

Crusader period hospital building in Jerusalem

The Israel Antiquities Authority announced yesterday that a building from the Crusader period (1099–1291 A.D.) has been excavated. The building is in an area of the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem known as the Muristan (“a corruption of the Persian word for hospital”). Our first photo shows part of the Muristan near the old structure. You can see the tower of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. This is near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The Muristan in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The tower of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is visible. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Muristan in the Christian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. The tower of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is visible. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Between the Lutheran Church and the Armenian Quarter on Muristan Street stands a monument identifying the area where the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem was established. Click on the image if you wish to read the inscription.

Marker identifying the location of the hospital built by the "Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem." Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Marker identifying the location of the hospital built by the “Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem.” Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Press Release contains several bits of historical information that may be of interest to readers. Here is the full Press Release.

— ♦ —

The Israel Antiquities Authority conducted an excavation in the impressive Crusader building, which is similar in appearance to the Knights Halls in Akko and stands 6 meters high, prior to the construction of a restaurant by the Grand Bazaar Company

Part of an enormous structure dating to the Crusader period (1099–1291 CE), which was a busy hospital,  has currently been revealed to the public following excavations and research by the Israel Antiquities Authority there in cooperation with the Grand Bazaar Company of East Jerusalem. The building, owned by the Waqf, is situated in the heart of the Christian Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, in a region known as “Muristan” (a corruption of the Persian word for hospital), near David Street, the main road in the Old City.

Until a decade or so ago the building served as a bustling and crowded fruit and vegetable market. Since then it stood there desolate. In the wake of the Grand Bazaar Company’s intention to renovate the market as a restaurant, the Israel Antiquities Authority conducted archaeological soundings there.

The structure, only a small part of which was exposed in the excavation, seems to extend across an area of fifteen dunams! Its construction is characterized by massive pillars and ribbed vaults and it stands more than six meters high. The image we have is that of a great hall composed of pillars, rooms and smaller halls.

Ruins of the Crusader hospital built by the Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem. Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Ruins of the Crusader hospital built by the Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem. Photo by Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

According to Renee Forestany and Amit Re’em, the excavation directors on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “We’ve learned about the hospital from contemporary historical documents, most of which are written in Latin.  These mention a sophisticated hospital that is as large and as organized as a modern hospital. The hospital was established and constructed by a Christian military order named the “Order of St. John of the Hospital in Jerusalem” and known by its Latin name the Hospitallers (from the word hospital). These righteous warriors took an oath to care for and watch over pilgrims, and when necessary they joined the ranks of the fighters as an elite unit.

The hospital was comprised of different wings and departments according to the nature of the illness and the condition of the patient – similar to a modern hospital. In an emergency situation the hospital could accept as many as 2,000 patients. The Hospitallers treated sick men and women of different religions. There is information about Crusaders who ensured their Jewish patients received kosher food. All that notwithstanding, they were completely ignorant in all aspects of medicine and sanitation: an eyewitness of the period reports that a Crusader doctor amputated the leg of a warrior just because he had a small infected wound – needless to say the patient died. The Muslim Arab population was instrumental in assisting the Crusaders in establishing the hospital and teaching them medicine. Arab culture has always held the medical profession in high regard and Arab physicians were famous far and wide.

In addition to the medical departments, the hospital also functioned as an orphanage where abandoned newborns were brought. Mothers who did not want their offspring would come there with covered heads and hand over their infants. In many instances when twins were born, one of them was given to the orphanage. The orphans were treated with great devotion and when they reached adulthood they served in the military order.

We can learn about the size of the hospital from contemporary documents. One of the documents recounts an incident about a staff member who was irresponsible in the performance of his work in the hospital. That person was marched alongside the building awhile, and the rest of the staff, with whips in hand, formed a line behind him and beat him. This spectacle was witnessed by all of the patients.

The Ayyubid ruler Saladin lived near the hospital following the defeat of the Crusaders, and he also renovated and maintained the structure. He permitted ten Crusader monks to continue to reside there and serve the population of Jerusalem.

The building collapsed in an earthquake that struck in 1457 CE and was buried beneath its ruins, which is how it remained until the Ottoman period. In the Middle Ages parts of the structure were used as a stable and the bones of horses and camels were found in excavations, alongside an enormous amount of metal that was used in shoeing the animals.

According to Monser Shwieki, the project manager, “The magnificent building will be integrated in a restaurant slated to be constructed there, and its patrons will be impressed by the enchanting atmosphere of the Middle Ages that prevails there”. According to Shwieki, “The place will be open to the public later this year”.

Click here to download high resolution pictures . Photograph credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

HT: Joseph I. Lauer

The traditional site of Dalmanutha

Many tourists stop at Tabgha (Seven Springs, or Heptapegon) to see the mosaic of loaves and fish in the new Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes. This church was built in 1982, but we know that a chapel was built at the site as early as the 4th century A.D. I will not engage in a discussion of whether this is the correct location for the feeding of the multitudes by Jesus.

Rarely does anyone have the opportunity to take the path from the church to the lake shore. This is private property. In the photo below, first notice that the water level is low. The green growth is covered when the water level is high. Notice also a path in the middle of the photos. This path leads from the church to the lake (when the water is high).

Traditional site of Dalmanutha (east of Tabgha). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Traditional site of Dalmanutha (east of Tabgha). Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Only twice have I been able to reach the lake shore at this point. As one approaches the water there is a sign with the word Dalmanutha on it. I met Bargil Pixner in the book shop of the church in 1994 and have an inscribed copy of his with Jesus through Galilee according to the fifth Gospel. At least once in the book he mentions the Seven Springs as Ma-gadan, Tabgha (p. 37). The enlarged map in the back of the book marks the area as Ma-gadan (Dalmanutha).

Dalmanutha sign in 1994. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sign at traditional site of Dalmanutha in 1994. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sign at traditional site of Dalmanutha. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sign at traditional site of Dalmanutha in 2009. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Here is the view from “Dalmanutha” toward Mount Arbel and the Horns of Hattin.

View from Dalmanutha toward Mount Arbel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 1994.

View from traditional Dalmanutha toward Mount Arbel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 1994.

I doubt that this identification is correct but thought it was significant enough to pass along.

We pointed out in a previous post here that Dalmanutha is mentioned only once in the Gospels.

And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. (Mark 8:10 ESV)

The parallel account in Matthew 15:32-39 says that Jesus came to the region of Magadan.

And after sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Magadan.  (Matthew 15:39 ESV)

The Bet Qama discovery

Numerous discoveries are made in Israel during the process of building a house, a road, or some other construction project. It becomes necessary to call the Israel Antiquities Authority so that an emergency excavation can be conducted.

Israel has a wonderful toll road (Highway 6) running from Galilee to the Negev. During preparatory work to extend the highway to the south, a settlement covering almost 1½ acres was uncovered in the fields of Kibbutz Bet Qama (Beit Kama) a few miles north of Beersheba. Shmuel Browns, Israel guide and blogger, attended a briefing by the IAA earlier in the week. He describes the discovery:

The site seems to have consisted of a large estate that included a tower, a church, residential buildings, presumably an inn for travelers, and storerooms, a large cistern, a public building and pools surrounded by farmland. Also found was a stone with a Byzantine cross in secondary usage.

Browns think this would be a good candidate for a monastery. He has granted permission for us to share this photo that he made during the IAA briefing.

The IAA explains the Beit Qama discovery. Photo by Shmuel Browns.

The IAA reports on the Beit Qama discovery. Photo by Shmuel Browns.

Take a look at the blog post with a half dozen nice photos by Shmuel Browns here.

The Press Release by the IAA may be read here.

I see that Carl Rasmussen has posted a blog here about the 5th century synagogue that was discovered during construction work in 1993 at Sepphoris. This site is only 3½ miles north of Nazareth, the early home of Jesus.

There is still a lot to be uncovered in the Near East. See my post about “Know but mostly unknown” here.

Florida College Lectures on Logos Pre-pub

Yesterday I explained a little about Logos Bible Software and their Community Pricing and Pre-publication Specials. Today I want to tell you about a set of Pre-pub books that are of special interest to me.

Florida College is an accredited (by the Southern Association) private liberal arts college that for decades has offered four years of Bible studies. The college does not accept funds from churches, but the board, administration and faculty are members of Churches of Christ that are often designated as non-instiutional.

Accreditation as a junior college was granted to Florida College in the mid-1950s, but the college continued to offer four years of Bible studies. Biblical Studies was the first accredited Bachelor’s degree to be offered in 1997.

Since its beginning in 1946, Florida College (earlier named Florida Christian College) conducted an annual Bible lecture program. Beginning in 1974 the main lessons in these lectureships were published in book form from the manuscripts of invited speakers. The speakers were teachers and ministers associated with Churches of Christ.

Melvin Curry followed Homer Hailey as chair of the Bible department after Hailey’s retirement in 1973. Nineteen of the volumes were edited by Curry. After that, it came my turn to edit ten volumes while I served as chair of Biblical Studies. Since my retirement in 2001, Daniel Petty has served as department chair and edited the annual lecture book.

FC Lectures 1996

There are a total of 38 volumes (1974–2011) in the series. Some of these volumes have been out of print for several years.

The Logos web site offers the following overview of the lecture books:

The Florida College Annual Lectures (1974–2011) brings you thirty-eight years of the college’s annual lectures series in complete written form. Prior to the first published lecture series in 1974, only content outlines were available.

Each volume includes fifteen or more lectures from contributors from various biblical fields, and focus on a specific theme. These themes deal with modern issues and are supported by recent scholarship. Learn what true worship entails. Discover how God can restore your life. Challenge yourself to share the gospel message. The Florida College Annual Lectures (1974–2011) (38 vols.) contains both informative and stimulating topics that allow you to apply the biblical principles found in its lectures to your daily walk with Christ.

With Logos, every word is essentially a link! Scripture references are linked directly to the Bibles in your library—both the original language texts and English translations. Logos Bible Software allows you to quickly move from the table of contents to your desired content and search entire volumes and collections by topic, title, or Scripture reference, making Logos the perfect software to expand your understanding of the Word.

How Pre-publication works. Books on Pre-pub will not be produced until Logos sees that there are enough orders to make the publication feasible. Interested customers lock in the pre-pub price. You must set up an account with Logos, but your card is not charged until the book or set is ready to deliver. You will be notified when the book is ready. At that time you have a choice to continue or cancel. You may have to wait 6 months or more until the work is ready.

The deal is great. This 38 volume set of Florida College Lectures is available on Pre-pub for $74.95. This set is scheduled to sell for $174 when it is published. Even that is a bargain.

In order for this great resource to become a reality, Logos need a few more people to agree to buy the completed work. Help yourself, and others, in this worthy effort.

Think about these 38 volumes for $75. There are more than 600 lectures. That’s about 12 cents per lecture. Even mine are worth that. The entire collection is searchable, along with all other works you have in your Logos collection. When a Scripture reference appears, simply mouse over it and the Scripture is visible in your preferred version of the Bible.

In a previous post here I have explained that you must have a Logos base package, or already have Logos on your computer.

Logos Bible Software is the premier digital publishing format for books dealing with Biblical Studies. If you are serious about Bible study, you need to investigate Logos.

Meanwhile. Go to the Logos web site and place your Pre-pub order NOW. The sooner Logos publishes, the sooner we can begin to utilize the search features in this entire set. You can always get to the information by going to Look under Products for the Pre-publication Specials. The direct link to info about the Florida College Annual Lectures, with a list of every lecture, is here.

In search of Barnabas

A recent article (here) in the York [Pennsylvania] Daily Record features the research of Messiah College professor Dr. Michael Cosby. Cosby received a Fulbright Grant to do this research in Cyprus, a place associated with the life of Barnabas.

Barnabas is best known to most of us because of his association with the Apostle Paul on the first missionary journey. He is mentioned more than 20 times in the Book of Acts. Other than that, he is mentioned 3 times in Galatians 2, and once each in 1 Corinthians and Colossians.

We understand from Luke’s account that Barnabas, also known as Joseph, was a Levite of Cyprus (Acts 4:36). The first stop on the First Journey was at Salamis on the eastern end of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus (Acts 13:1-5). There the preachers spoke in the synagogue of the Jews, and later on the western end of the island at Paphos.

When Paul and Barnabas had a dispute prior to the Second Journey, Barnabas took his cousin Mark and went to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).

Nothing else is mentioned in the Bible about Barnabas and the island of Cyprus. But a great amount of tradition has grown up on the island. It is this tradition that Prof. Cosby studied, and he researched the association of the tradition to the modern Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, and the privileges granted to the Cypriot archbishops.

Having just visited Cyprus last year I find this a fascinating article. Perhaps you will enjoy it.

According to a tradition dating back to 488 A.D., the sepulcher of Barnabas was discovered by Anthemios, the Archbishop of Constantia and placed in a church he built near the tomb. The photo below shows the now-empty church near the ruins of Roman Salamis.

The Church of Barnabas at Salamis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Church of Barnabas at Salamis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Salamis is now located in the the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or as the folks in the south of Cyprus say, “the occupied territory.”

Acts 28 — Photo Illustrations

Many of the places mentioned in Acts 28 have been discussed, with photos, over a period of years. For sure, we have posts on Malta, (Publius), Syracuse, Rhegium, (Appian Way), and Rome. Use the search box to locate these for your study and teaching.

For this final post on the Book of Acts I have decided to look at a thought suggested by Paul when he spoke with the leading men of the Jews in Rome.

 17 After three days Paul called together those who were the leading men of the Jews, and when they came together, he began saying to them, “Brethren, though I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our fathers, yet I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.
18 “And when they had examined me, they were willing to release me because there was no ground for putting me to death.
19 “But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar, not that I had any accusation against my nation.
20 “For this reason, therefore, I requested to see you and to speak with you, for I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel.” (Acts 28:17-20 NAU)

Paul was taken to Rome in chains as a prisoner of the Roman Empire. See also Acts 21:33; 22:29; 26:29; Ephesians 6:20.

The Basilica of St. Paul, commonly known as St. Paul Outside the Walls, dates to the time of Constantine, and is thought to be the site of the burial of Paul.

Among the statues on the property is the one shown below. Paul is portrayed as a writer and a prisoner ready to be offered. We recall that the Prison Epistles (Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians) were written from Rome. My own understanding is that Paul was likely released after about two years. During that time we know very little about his activities, but believe that he wrote 1 Timothy and Titus. Later he was imprisoned a second time in Rome and writes another prison epistle, 2 Timothy.

Statue representing Paul as a writer in chains. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statue representing Paul as a writer in chains. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The chains are difficult to see in the photo above, but in the view below they are clearly visible.

Paul in chains. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Paul in chains. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This final post in the series on Acts is sent forth with the hope that the material will be of value to students and Bible class teachers for years to come.

Myra, home of Saint Nicholas

The town Myra is known to students of the New Testament as a place where Paul transferred ships while he was being taken to Rome for trial before Caesar (Acts 27:5).

In the centuries following, Myra became the home of a (Greek Orthodox) bishop known as Nicholas. Born in Patara, Nicholas died December 6, 343. Several legends arose around Nicholas who was noted for giving gifts to the poor and raising the dead.

Highly revered in Greece and Russia, St. Nicholas is known as the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, and scholars. From his life of piety, kindness, and generosity arose the legendary figure celebrated today as St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, or Santa Claus. (Fant & Reddish, A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, 256)

The ancient Myra is associated with the modern Turkish town Demre (or Kale). I thought you might enjoy seeing a few pictures related to Saint Nicholas. In the town square is a recent statue showing St. Nicholas with children. The statue was a gift of the Russian government in 2000. Many Russian tourists were visiting the day I was there.

Modern statue of Saint Nicholas at Myra. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Modern statue of Saint Nicholas at Myra. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A few decades ago I saw an older statue near the entrance to the church. It now has a fresh coat of black paint.

Older statue of St. Nicholas near the entrance of the Byzantine church ruins. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Older statue of St. Nicholas near the entrance of the Byzantine church ruins.This statue depicts him carrying a bag of gifts.  Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Byzantine church dates to the 6th century A.D. Several writers point out that the sarcophagus of Nicholas was broken into by Italian merchants in the 1087 A.D., and his bones were taken to Bari, Italy.

Wilson says the church is built like a basilica “in the shape of an orthodox cross” (Biblical Turkey 88).

St. Nicholas Byzantine church, Myra, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ruins of the St. Nicholas Byzantine church, Myra, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This last photo shows one of the poorly preserved frescoes.

Fresco on the wall of St. Nicholas church in Demre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fresco on the wall of St. Nicholas church in Demre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tourism seems to be thriving at Myra even though the town is off the beaten track. Whether there are any Christians in the town is doubtful.

For an earlier post about Myra and St. Nicholas, see here.

Reformation Day

October 31 is known as Reformation Day because it was on this day in 1517 that Martin Luther posted Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The Ninety-Five Theses were issues that Luther thought should be debated by the theologians. These questions were brought about due to the sale of indulgences and general corruption within the Roman Catholic Church.

The term Protestant was not used to describe those who aligned themselves with Luther for another 12 years, but the Protestant movement can be dated the the event at Wittenberg.

There are many issues on which I would differ with Luther, but I admit that I admire the man and the stand that he took against practices of his day which were departures from the Apostolic doctrine.

This statue of Luther stands in the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The official name of the town is Lutherstadt Wittenberg.

Statue of Martin Luther in the Wittenberg Castle Church. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statue of Martin Luther in the Wittenberg Castle Church. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The original door of the church was destroyed by fire in 1760. Doors covered with bronze plaques with the Ninety-Five Theses on them were installed in 1858. The door of the church is pictured below.

Door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Free Book. Those who use Logos Bible Software may download a copy of the Ninety-Five Theses under the title Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. For information click here.

Interested in the Reformation? If you have interest in Church History and the place of the Reformation within it, you might enjoy this post on “The background of the Protestant Reformation,” or posts on Zwingli, Tyndale and Knox (and here), Heinrich Bullinger, St. Andrews, and Savonarola.