Category Archives: Greece

Visualizing Isaiah 23: Tyre is laid waste

Isaiah 23 is an oracle concerning the famous Phoenician port city of Tyre. The Mediterranean world of Egypt, Tarshish, Cyprus, and the neighboring city of Sidon, would be affected by the fall of Tyre.

More details about the prophecy concerning Tyre are given in Ezekiel 26-28. Nebuchadnezzar is named as one of the kings who will bring about the fall of Tyre. He besieged Tyre for 13 years (585-572 B.C.), immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem. The people of Tyre fled from their mainland city to the island about ½ mile offshore. But Tyre was to be destroyed by many nations. Alexander the Great came to Tyre in 332 B.C. Most of the cities in his path surrendered, but the people of Tyre prepared to resist him. The more powerful Greeks used the debris of the desolate mainland city to build a causeway to the island. Alexander’s army captured the island city in seven months.

Ezekiel says the city “will be built no more” (Ezekiel 26:14). The mainland city has never been rebuilt. From my first visit to Tyre in 1967, I continued to visit the city until 1975, and then again in 2002. Political and military conditions have made it impossible to visit more times.

The diagram below hopefully will help to explain what we have briefly explained here. It was prepared by my friend Steven Sebree of Moonlight Graphic Works for one of my books which is currently out of print.

The mainland has not been rebuilt since the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (585-572 B.C.).

The mainland city has not been rebuilt since the destruction by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (585-572 B.C.). The causeway to the island was built by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.

By 315 B.C. the island city was rebuilt, but was populated by Carians from SW Asia Minor. The present city of Tyre occupied the island and the causeway. The photo below shows a view to the west of a Roman arch built over the causeway built by the Greeks. The island city is visible beyond the arch.

A Roman arch built on the causeway built by Alexander the Great. View West. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A Roman arch on the causeway built by Alexander the Great. The view is to the west and the modern island city. There is no city on the mainland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible

Frequently we have mentioned and recommended the Zondervan Atlas of the Bible by Carl G. Rasmussen. Every Bible student needs at least one or two good atlases to assist them in their study of the Scriptures.

Last month I attended some annual professional meetings in Baltimore and was pleased to see that Zondervan already had copies of the new Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible. One of the sales reps gave me a copy for review here.

At first appearance, the ZEAB has a beautiful cover of stiff, durable paper. It is a convenient 9 1/8″ x 7 3/8″ in size. The content is basically the same as the larger hard back edition. There has been some editing of the text to condense the book from 303 pages to 159 pages.

There are two major sections to the book: Geographical Section and Historical Section. The Geographical Section includes an Introduction to the Middle East as a Whole, and discusses the geography of Israel and Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon, and Mesopotamia.

The Historical Section covers the entire Bible from the Pre-Patriarchal Period to the Seven Churches of Revelation, with an additional chapter on Jerusalem, in 17 chapters.

The maps are superbly drawn and easy to read. A timeline accompanies each chapter. Rasmussen is noted for his Holy Land Photos web site. The photos are beautiful and helpful in illustrating the content.

This book has been prepared by a teacher, and I consider that a plus. In addition to his work at Bethel University, Carl continues to serve as an adjunct professor at Jerusalem University College. He has spent 16 years of his adult life in the Bible lands. His  Holy Land Photos’ Blog provides helpful, up-to-date, information about both familiar and unfamiliar places mentioned in the Bible. He has also led numerous tours through Bible lands.

This Atlas sells for $16.99. I see that Amazon has the Zondervan Essential Atlas of the Bible for $12.97. A Kindle version is about $3 less.

Either version is ideal for a person to take with them to Bible class, or on a tour of Bible lands.

The larger Zondervan Atlas of the Bible still remains indispensable for the serious student. I am trying to say you should have both books.

Carl has assisted me on several occasions in locating some of those hidden, out-of-the-way, places that most visitors to the Bible lands never see. I am pleased to commend this new edition of his book.

The Meat Market at Corinth

Paul taught the saints at Corinth to,

Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (1 Corinthians 10:25 ESV)

The Greek word used here for “meat market” is makellon. Archaeological discoveries at Corinth include inscriptions mentioning the meat market and the fish market.

Henry J. Cadbury writes about visiting the Corinth excavations in July, 1933. He says he especially wanted to see “first hand the Erastus inscription….” Some of his comments in the article are still interesting today.

But what was particularly unexpected by me was to note among the inscribed fragments of marble in the new museum one containing quite clearly MACELLV.

As the piece has only seven other letters and these quite unintelligible the discovery of this single word is extremely tantalizing. But since the fragment in question was found in 1898, now thirty-five years ago, while so far as I know its one clear word has never been brought into connection with Paul’s reference to a Corinthian macellum, it is worth while now to do so. And the fragment does not stand quite alone; nine other fragments of the same inscription have been found, and furthermore another copy apparently of a similar inscription is represented by eleven fragments.

Citing A. B. West and L. R. Taylor, Cadbury says the various inscriptions mentioning the macellum at Corinth date to the “last years of Augustus or to the reign of Tiberias.”

In my earliest years of traveling to Corinth I saw this inscription each time I was there. Below is a digitized slide photo from 1971. This inscription was in an open hall surrounding the courtyard of what Cadbury called in 1934 “the new museum” at Corinth. At some point, perhaps in the 1990s the inscription was no longer on display. My guide at the time was well informed and had likewise seen the inscription. Inquiry in the office of the museum provided no information. Finally, a few years ago (probably 2008 or 2012) I found one of the workers preparing for the renovation of  a “newer” museum at Corinth. She informed me that the inscription was in their storeroom and that it would eventually be displayed again.

In the photo below you will see the Latin word MACELLV[M] in the fourth line from the top. Paul used the same Greek word in 1 Corinthians 10:25.

Makellum inscription at Corinth Museum in 1971. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Makellum inscription at Corinth Museum in 1971. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cadbury refers to published inscriptions from Corinth. This is No. 124. It is thought to have consisted of three blocks. The beginning of the five lines in the first block of No. 124 reads as follows:

Q . C O
M A E C
S E C V
M A C E L L V
I N E A . L O C

New Testament Christians did not live in a vacuum, and the books of the New Testament were not written in a vacuum. Understanding the historical and social context of these writings helps us to better apply them to our own time.

Documentation: Henry J. Cadbury. “The Macellum of Corinth.” JBL 53:2 (1934): 134-141.

The Erastus inscription at Corinth

Even though the relationship between the Apostle Paul and the Corinthians was always a strained one, we know the names of numerous saints at Corinth who were helpful to Paul in his ministry.

Paul calls attention to a person named Erastus who was a “city treasurer.” He would be one of the few (“not many”) Christians who were among the socially elite at Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:26). A person named Erastus is mentioned three times in the New Testament. Whether these are two or three different persons, or all the same person, I do not know. Here are the biblical references:

  1. “And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.” (Acts 19:22 ESV)
  2. “Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you.” (Romans 16:23 ESV) [We understand that Romans was written from Corinth. The Greek term for "city treasurer" is oikonomos.]
  3. “Erastus remained at Corinth, and I left Trophimus, who was ill, at Miletus.” (2 Timothy 4:20 ESV)

It is of interest that during the 1929 archaeological excavation of the area near the theater (see here), a plaza was located that contained a stone inscription bearing the name of Erastus and indicating that he was a public official.

Ferrell Jenkins points to the Erastus Inscription at Corinth.

Ferrell Jenkins points to the Erastus Inscription at Corinth.

John McRay says the pavement in which this inscription was found dates to before A.D. 50. The letters are 7 inches high. The complete inscription reads:

ERASTVS-PRO-AEDILIT[at]E S-P-Stravit
In full: Erastus pro aedilitate sua pecunia stravit.

The English translation of the inscription is, “Erastus in return for his aedileship laid (the pavement) at his own expense.” (Archaeology and the New Testament, 331).

Originally the letters were filled with bronze, but most of that was removed long ago. The name ERASTVS is seen in the closeup below.

The name Erastus in the inscription near the theater. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The name Erastus in the inscription near the Corinth theater. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For those who have interest in a more technical discussion of this inscription may find it in David W.J. Gill, “Erastus The Aedile.” Tyndale Bulletin 40.2 (1989): 298. Gill asks,

Are we to identify the Erastus inscription with the Erastus of Romans? It needs to be pointed out that the evidence will not allow a certain identification or a certain rejection.

We are not able to answer the question with certainty, but the possibility that this man was among the disciples at Corinth, and a friend of Paul, is intriguing.

Paul stood before Galilo at Corinth

Luke records, in the book of Acts, an important historical event involving Paul during the 18 months he worked at Corinth

12 But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal,
13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God contrary to the law.”
14 But when Paul was about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of wrongdoing or vicious crime, O Jews, I would have reason to accept your complaint.
15 But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things.”
16 And he drove them from the tribunal.
17 And they all seized Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the tribunal. But Gallio paid no attention to any of this. (Acts 18:12-17 ESV)

The photo below 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 in the agora of Corinth. The Acrocorinth is in the distance. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The bema in the agora of Corinth. 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).

An inscription found at Delphi names Gallio the proconsul of Achaia. Gallio was the brother of the famous Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca. Gallio’s terms as proconsul of Achaia is usually dated to either A.D. 51/52 or 52/53. This is an important chronological help in our study of Paul’s journeys. In the largest fragment of the inscription, the name of ΓΑΛΛΙΩ (GALLIO)  may be seen in the center of the third line from the top.

The Delphi (Gallio) inscription. Photo by David Padfield.

The Delphi (Gallio) inscription. Photo by David Padfield.

I have been to Delphi at least two times, but the broken pieces of the Gallio Inscription were in a storage room. I did have written permission to see the fragment, but the slides I made were of poor quality. Thanks to David Padfield for permission to use the nice photo above which is now displayed in the museum at Delphi.

The theater at Corinth

The theater at Corinth is a short distance from the agora and the Temple of Apollo. Reddish and Fant describe the theater:

The theater dates from the 5th century B.C.E. and later was rebuilt by the Romans, who added a multistory stage building . In Paul’s time it seated approximately 14,000 spectators. (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, p. 59)

According to the same source, both the theater and the odeion, “were later used for gladiatorial spectacles; the theater was even fitted for mock sea battles.”

Ruins of the theater at Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ruins of the theater at Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The theater is not on the typical tourist route at Corinth, but it can be reached along a rugged path north of the major excavated area.

The Apostle Paul spent 18 months among the Corinthians.

And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. (Acts 18:11 ESV)

The Fountain of Glauke at Corinth

In addition to the Spring (or Fountain) of Peirene, Corinth had another significant water supply — the Fountain of Glauke. Reddish and Fant describe the fountain:

To the west of the temple [of Apollo] and on a lower level lies the Fountain of Glauke, supplied with water by a conduit from the Acrocorinth, virtually nothing of which remains except four reservoirs cut in the rock. It was named for the legendary daughter of a king of Corinth who threw herself into its waters to escape the flames of the magical robe sent her by Medea. Originally the fountain was covered by a building approximately 45 feet long and 40 feet wide. (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, 59).

The Fountain of Glauke at Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Fountain of Glauke at Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Among the Christians at Corinth during the time of the Apostle Paul, we can certainly imagine that some of them visited these sites we have learned about as a result of the archaeological excavations over the past century. See Acts 18; 1 Corinthians; 2 Corinthians.

The Lechaion Road at Corinth

The Lechaion Road was the famous road that ran from the port of Corinth to the city. In Corinth the road was 20 to 25 feet wide, made of limestone, and flanked on either side by raised sidewalks and shops. The road ended at the agora which was directly to our back when we made the photo.

The Lechaion Road in Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Lechaion Road in Corinth. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Apostle Paul came to Corinth in the fall of A.D. 51 and remained until the spring of A.D. 53. During the eighteen months in the city he preached to both Jews and Greeks (Acts 18:1-4, 11).

A case can be made that there was a “lost letter” written by Paul to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 5:9).

The document we call First Corinthians was written from Ephesus about A.D. 53/54.

Paul may have made a second visit to the city which ended in sorrow; some call this the “painful visit” of 2 Corinthians 2:1; 12:14; 13:1-4.

Paul proposed a third visit (2 Corinthians 12:14; 13:1-2), which probably took place during the three month stay in Greece (Acts 20:2-3). We believe that Paul wrote the letter to the Romans during this visit. Romans was delivered to the Romans by Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae (Romans 16:1).

National Geographic’s Top 10 Museums and Galleries

National Geographic recently released a list of Top 10 Museums and Galleries here.

  1. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  2. Le Louvre, Paris, France
  3. The Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
  4. State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
  5. The British Museum, London, England
  6. The Prado, Madrid, Spain
  7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
  8. The Vatican Museum, Vatican City, Italy
  9. The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
  10. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Entrance to the Louvre at night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Entrance to the Louvre at night. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to visit each of these museums at least once. While I enjoy the art, I am usually looking for artifacts that provide some background for the Bible. That would make a good list.

If I should be asked to suggest number 11, it would be the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Germany.

Following the news in the Bible World

Beginning with the Six Day War (June 5-10, 1967) I have tried to keep alert to the situation in the countries that are often called the Bible lands or the Bible World. This phrase is given to the countries of Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, Greece, et al. where the events of the Bible transpired. Over the past 47 years I have traveled in all of these countries, some extensively, except Iran.

The current news coming out of Egypt is not good, and it is sad to see the conditions there. I wish for peace and justice for the people of Egypt, and the other countries mentioned above. I wish it also for those who would like to travel to these ancient lands to better learn the history, both secular and biblical.

A scene on the Nile River in Upper Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A scene on the Nile River in Upper Egypt. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The photo above was made from the Nile River in Upper Egypt, near the ancient town of Edfu. When I look at it I am reminded of the Genesis account of the seven lean cows and seven plump cows that Joseph saw coming up out of the Nile (Genesis 41).