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 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?
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 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.
Posted in Archaeology, Bible Lands, Bible Places, Bible Study, Book of Acts, Book Review, Books, New Testament, Old Testament, Photography, Travel, Turkey
Tagged Apostle Paul, Asia Minor Research Center, Dr. Mark Wilson, 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.
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.
Posted in Bible Lands, Bible Places, Bible Study, Book of Acts, Church History, New Testament, Old Testament, Photography, Travel, Turkey
Tagged Apostle John., Apostle Paul, Apostle Peter, Cappdocia, The Book of Revelation
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 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.
Posted in Bible Lands, Bible Places, Bible Study, Book of Acts, Church History, Greece, New Testament, Photography, Travel, Turkey
Tagged Apostle Paul, Bithynia, Ecumenical Councils, Iznik, Lighthouse, Nicaea
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.
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.
A few columns of the Palace of the Procurators have been restored at Caesarea. The late Jerome Murphy-O’Connor describes the lower level of the Palace.
From the west colonnade one can look down to the sea shore at a point where its dominant feature is a rectangular rock-cut pool (35 x 18). There are channels to the sea on both sides. A square statue base can be discerned in the middle. The colonnaded pool was originally the centerpiece of a two-storey building (83 x 51 m) which surrounded it on all sides. Presumably it was here that the Roman procurators lived. Wave action and the activities of stone robbers have ensured that virtually nothing remains. A staircase in the north-east corner gave access to the upper level. (The Holy Land, Fifth Edition, p. 243)
Our photo below shows this area. In the foreground you will see portions of some mosaics.
The lower level of the Place of the Procurators. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
This was not a bad place for the Roman procurators to live a luxurious life while the Apostle Paul was held in custody nearby (Acts 23:23 – 26:32).
Procurators associated with Caesarea in the New Testament include…
- Pilate (A.D. 26-26) – John 18, et al.
- Felix (A.D. 52-59) – Acts 23-25
- Festus (A.D. 59-61) – Acts 24-26
The Jewish rulers associated with Caesarea include…
- Herod the king [Agrippa I] (A.D. 37-44) – Acts 12
- Herod Agrippa II (lived A.D. 27-100) – Acts 25-26
Herod the Great built a hippodrome along the Mediterranean coast at Caesarea Maritima in 10 B.C. to celebrate the opening of the city. In the second century A.D. the south end of the hippodrome was reconstructed as an amphitheater to be used for gladiatorial contests.
The seaside Hippodrome at Caesarea Maritima. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.
The apostle Paul was in prison at Caesarea for two years between A.D. 58 and 60 (Acts 23:23 – 26:32).
We discussed Paul’s possible use of the charioteer in Philippians 3:12-14 here.