Category Archives: Bible Study

Laodicea stadium to be restored

Hurriyet Daily News recently reported here on plans to reconstruct the ancient stadium in ancient Laodicea. Laodicea is known to Bible students from the book of Revelation (1:11; 3:14-22), and from Paul’s epistle to the Colossians.

For I bear him [Epaphras] witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. (Colossians 4:13-16 ESV)

Laodicea is located about 100 miles east of Ephesus, five miles from the modern Turkish town of Denizli, and near the popular resort of Pamukkale.

The stadium at Laodicea before the recent efforts to uncover the stadium and restore it. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The stadium at Laodicea before the recent efforts to uncover the stadium and restore it. A portion of the nymphaeum is visible on the hill on the left side of the photo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When I first began traveling to visit the sites of the Seven Churches of the book of Revelation, all we could see at Laodicea was the form of the stadium and ruins of a nymphaeum (a fountain house). If we walked through across the mound to the north we could see the location of two theaters. That was about it.

In recent years tourists have seen many new excavations and reconstructions on the north side of the tell, but few walked through the weeds to get to the stadium.

Originally the stadium was an enclosed structure used for gladiatorial games. An inscription tells that a wealthy family dedicated it to Emperor Vespasian (A.D. 69-79) and Emperor Titus (A.D. 79-81). It is said to be the biggest stadium in Anatolia.

Vespasian and Titus are known for their war with the Jews beginning in A.D. 66, and the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Here is the article from the Hurriyet Daily News for those who wish to read further.

 “ —

Works have been initiated this summer to unearth a stadium in the ancient city of Laodicea, a property on UNESCO’s tentative list for World Heritage Sites. The stadium was a venue for sports competitions and gladiator fights in ancient times and is located in the western province of Denizli.

Excavations and restorations have been ongoing in the ancient city for 13 years under the leadership of Professor Celal Şimşek of the Pamukkale University (PAU) Archaeology Department. Some 4,000 artifacts have been uncovered so far.

The artifacts include figures, sculptures, agricultural tools, and household products and have been under protection. The Holy Agora, which is home to one of the seven holy churches mentioned in the Bible but which collapsed in an earthquake along with its columns in 494 A.D., has been restored and revived.

A project has also been initiated to unearth the Laodicea Stadium, located on Stadium Street in the ancient city and known as the largest stadium in Anatolia in the era.

The project has been approved by the Cultural and Natural Heritage Preservation Board and gets supported by the Merkezefendi Municipality. When it is finished, the stadium will be revived after 1,494 years.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Professor Şimşek said this year’s excavation and restoration works have still been continuing in the ancient city, focusing on the project made for the revival of Stadium Street.

“The recovery of the ruined columns continues. They will be revived with their arches within three months. The street will regain life after 1,500 years,” Şimşek said, adding that the street where the excavations are continuing is very important.

He said the Laodecia Stadium was the biggest one in Anatolia.

“It is a gigantic structure that is 285-meters high and 70-meters wide. Right next to it is a bath complex. It is one of the biggest bathes in Anatolia. There is an agora and an assembly building next to it. This place was a field of both sports and administration and people came together. From this aspect, the street has importance too,” said Şimşek.

Arena of gladiators

Şimşek said many competitions were held in the Laodicea Stadium in ancient times and the names of five-time winners of the competitions were written on inscriptions.

“At the same time, this stadium is very important for gladiator fights. The competition was held not only for this city but also the other cities in the Lycus lowlands. All Olympic-size games, local or big sports competitions, and gladiator fights have been held in this stadium,” he said.

August/21/2017

— ” —

See Archaeology News Network for two aerial photos of the area.

HT: ABR Newsletter

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The Reformation after 500 years

Five hundred years ago a monk by the name of Martin Luther (1483-1546) is said to have posted 95 Theses, propositions for discussion or debate, on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany. From that time the Reformation grew and experienced many divisions.

Our little album of some of the leaders of the Reformation is just a reminder of the work done by these individuals. Many of them did not see clearly the teaching of the New Testament scriptures, but they knew that changes were necessary in the Roman Catholic Church which had dominated both the religious and political thinking of Europe for many centuries.

The first photo is of a statue of Luther in Wittenberg.

Statue of Marin Luther in the Wittenberg Church. It was here that Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statue of Martin Luther in the Wittenberg, Germany, Church. It was here that Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) was a leader in the Reformation in eastern Switzerland. He took a more conservative stance than Luther on a number of issues.

Statue of Ulrich Zwingli, Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statue of Ulrich Zwingli, Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

John Knox (c. 1514-1572) is known as a leader in the founding of the Presbyterian Church. In this statue Knox is portrayed as pointing to the Bible as the message of the Reformation.

Early leaders of the American Restoration Movement, such as Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, and Alexander Campbell, were Presbyterians. Through their study of the Scripture they came to differ with Knox and other Reformers on the doctrine of Predestination, sprinkling as a mode of baptism, and the use of creeds.

Statue of John Knox in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Statue of John Knox in St. Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I have seen the Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland, but it has been many years ag0. The reformers who are shown on this monument are left to right: Guillaume Farel, Johannes Calvin, Theodore de Beze, and John Knox.

The Reformation Wall, Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Ruth Nguyen.

The Reformation Wall, Geneva, Switzerland. Photo by Ruth Nguyen (Vietnamese Wikipedia)..

There were earlier leaders of what some call Forerunners of the Reformation. These include such men as Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, John Hus, and Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498). Savonarola was known as a Dominican scholar in Florence, Italy. His opposition seemed to be less doctrinal and more pointed at the moral failings of the Church. A marker indicated the place where he was burned at the stake in Piazza della Signoria in Florence, Italy.

Tourists in Florence, Italy, seem to walk around the plaque marking the site where Savonarola was martyred. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tourists in Florence, Italy, seem to walk around the plaque marking the site where Savonarola was martyred. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Eye Witness Travel Guide of Italy (DK) says,

The piazza’s statues … commemorate the city’s historical events, but its most famous episode is celebrated by a simple pavement plaque near the loggia, the execution of the religious leader Girolamo Savonarola, who was burned at the stake.

Savonarola marker in Florence, Italy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Plaque marking the martyrdom of Savonarola in Florence, Italy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

One of the earliest Pre-Reformers was Jan Hus in Prague, now part of the Czech Republic.

The Hus Monument in the Town Square of Prague. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Hus Monument in the Town Square of Prague. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Martin Muller gives this little sketch about Hus and the movement associated with him.

The large monument in the middle of the Old Town Square in Prague is the statue of the reformer Jan Hus (John Huss), one of the most important personalities in Czech history. A hundred years before the Protestant Reformation was started by Martin Luther, Jan Hus was burnt as a heretic for reformist ideas.

Master Jan Hus (c. 1373-1415), the dean of the Charles University in Prague, criticized church practices such as selling indulgence. He used to preach in the Bethlehem Chapel in Prague and he was excommunicated by the pope for his ideas in 1410. Despite that, he continued in preaching and he had many followers in Prague, that´s why the pope interdicted the whole city of Prague in 1414. Finally, Jan Hus was invited to the Council in Constance and he was asked to renounce his ideas. He refused, and he was burnt at the stake as a heretic on 6 th July 1415.

The influence of these men is felt far and wide even by those who can not recite their names or locations.

Note: I intended this post to be several weeks earlier, but have had a computer drive failure. Who knows what the article would have been like had I been able to complete it earlier?

U.S.A. helping restore the Pools of Solomon

A sub-headline in The Times of Israel here about tell the whole story.

US Consulate funds $750,000 restoration of 2,000-year-old Solomon’s Pools near Bethlehem with hopes of making it a tourist site.

These pools have nothing to do with Solomon, but much to do with Jerusalem’s water supply in New Testament times. I recommend you read my earlier post about this here. I am re-posting some photos of the three pools that I made in 2014.

The western pool. View to east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The western pool. View to east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The middle pool is shown here with a view to the northwest. You can see the higher hills in the break between the trees.

The middle pool with a view to the northwest. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The middle pool with a view to the northwest. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The third pool (easternmost) is shown below with a view toward the west.

The third pool (eastern) is shown with a view toward the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The third pool (eastern) is shown with a view toward the west. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the previous article I have several links to more detailed information about these pools and the aqueduct system that carried the water to Jerusalem.

In the earliest days of my tours we were able to visit Solomon’s Pools as we traveled between Bethlehem and Hebron. In recent years it has been more difficult to visit the pools, and we have pointed out before that they are in need of restoration.

Looking forward to the completion of this project that I am helping pay for (if you get my drift).

HT: ABR Newsletter, @go2Carl, Bible Places Blog.

Sea of Galilee now 703 feet below sea level

A headline in a recent The Times of Israel reads,

“Thirsty Sea of Galilee sinking toward lowest level ever recorded.”

The article by Melanie Lidman reports that…

Northern Israel is experiencing one of the worst droughts in 100 years, leaving the country’s water tables with a deficit of 2.5 billion cubic liters of water, compared to non-drought years, Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor announced on Monday.

Lidman says,

The Sea of Galilee is currently at 214.13 meters (703 feet) below sea level, or 1.10 meters (3.6 feet) below the lower red line.

She adds that the Sea of Galilee reached a similar level in 2001 and 2008. When I first studied Bible Geography back in 1953 we learned from popular Bible atlases that the Sea of Galilee was 596 feet below sea level.

This gauge at Tiberias measures the level of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This gauge at Tiberias measures the level of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The article discusses the social and climatic problems Israel is facing today, and is well-worth the read.

The late Mendel Nun, of En Gev, discovered no less than 16 bustling ports from the time of Jesus. When the harbors and anchorages were originally built the water level was about 695 feet below sea level, considerably lower than in recent time. (See “Ports of Galilee.” BAR 25:04, July/Aug 1999).

Droughts in recent years have brought about changing water levels. We know that the famous Roman boat now displayed at Nof Ginosar was found when the water level was low in 1986. This also allowed the discovery of additional ports.

During the time I have been visiting Israel (since 1967), I have seen these changes in the water level of the lake and have mentioned it in several posts. Here I wish to use Tabgha (Heptapegon = the place of seven springs) as an illustration.

The Church of the Primacy of Peter was built in 1933. A good case can be made for this being the location where Jesus called some of His disciples to become fishers of men (Luke 5:1-11), and where Jesus met His disciples after the resurrection (John 21). The issue of the primacy of Peter over the other apostles is a matter for theological and exegetical study which I think comes up short.

The chapel is built on a large rock called the Mensi Domini (the Lord’s Table) where it is said Jesus prepared breakfast for the disciples.

In this 1980 photo you see the water reaching the building.

This photo shows the water level in 1980 at the Church of the Primacy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo shows the water level in 1980 at the Church of the Primacy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The rock-cut steps were mentioned by Egeria (about AD 383), but we do not know when they were cut. Now take a look at the same location in December of 2009 when the water was low.

The Church of the Primacy in 2009. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Church of the Primacy in 2009. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

These 2009 photos were made during a personal study trip with Leon Mauldin. While we were enjoying the quietness of the experience a group of tourists came to hunt for a special souvenir rock or shell to take home. I made the next picture from the edge of the water to illustrate how far the water had receded.

These photos were made during a personal study trip that Leon Mauldin and I made in 2009. While we were enjoying the quietness of the experience a group of tourists came to hunt for a special souvenir rock or shell to take home. I made the next picture from the edge of the water to illustrate how far the water had receded.

View of the Church of the Primacy from the edge of the water. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

View of the Church of the Primacy from the edge of the water. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hopefully this illustration from Tabgha will allow us to see how the harbors that had become lost in time could become known in the past few years.

Shofar announces the Jewish new year

Our Jewish friends are currently celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. The ram’s horn is blown leading up to the celebration.

The ram’s horn was important in the history of Israel. One of the words often used for the horn is shofar (or shophar).

  • A long blast on the ram’s horn was used to alert the Israelites when they could approach Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:13).
  • The ram’s horn was sounded at the beginning of important feast days (Leviticus 25:9). On the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar trumpets were to be blown (Numbers 29:1). This festival was known as the Feast of Trumpets.
  • After Israel marched around Jericho they would hear a long blast on the ram’s horn (Joshua 6:5). The word horn in this verse is qeren, but the word shofar is translated trumpet.

Sometimes in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem one of the shopkeepers will demonstrate the sounding of the shofar in hopes of attracting customers. That beautiful horn was a little above my budget. I do not know the animal from which it came. It may be a Yemenite shofar made from the horn of an African kudu.

Shofar sounded by a shopkeeper in the Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 1993.

Shofar being sounded by a shopkeeper in the Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins 1993.

Silver trumpets were also to be blown on certain occasions (Numbers 10:1).

I have observed that shepherds are proud of the ram of the flock. This photo was made in northern Jordan not very far from Ramoth in Gilead and the border with Syria.

Ram with large horns. Photo made in northern Jordan near ancient Ramoth Gilead, near the Syrian border. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ram with large horns. Photo made in northern Jordan near ancient Ramoth Gilead, near the Syrian border. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Christians of the Apostolic period, even Gentiles, studied the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) as a book like 1 Corinthians illustrates. Paul tells the Corinthians that the sound of a trumpet will signal the coming of the Lord and the resurrection.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ESV)

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ESV)

An excellent Logos Pre-pub ready soon

A nice feature of Logos Bible Software is the occasional pre-publication offer. Last April I choose to place an order for Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity. I already had the first two volumes in the print edition and was considering buying the final two volumes.

Then came the offer from Logos to purchase all four volumes in the digital format. This means that I would be able to search all four volumes with one click on my computer. I ordered for $50.99. Today I received an Email telling me that the material would be ready to deliver on October 3, 2017.

When I looked this afternoon I saw that the 4-volume set was still available for the pre-pub price. Go to Logos and search for the book by title. On the home page you will see that you may download a free Basics set including 17 books. Sure, its a way to get you hooked, but a lot of us have been hooked for years and find Logos Bible Software to be a wonderful tool in our study and work. Many of the books in my collection have been bought on pre-pub. I can’t say how long this offer will remain before the price goes up to the regular digital price. So far as I know Logos is only for the PC. Now who’s bragging?

There is just one bad thing about my telling you about this material.  You may stop reading my blog and start reading it. But wait, I still have better photos.

Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity, 4 volume set.

Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity, 4 volume digital set in Logos format.

For those who would like to read more about this publication, here is information provided by Logos.

— “ —

Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity (4 vols.) by Edwin Yamauchi and Marvin R. Wilson

The Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical and Post-Biblical Antiquity is a unique reference work that provides background cultural and technical information on the world of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament from 2000 BC to approximately AD 600.

Written and edited by a world-class historian and a highly respected biblical scholar, with contributions by many others, this unique reference work explains details of domestic life, technology, culture, laws, and religious practices, with extensive bibliographic material for further exploration. Articles range from 5-20 pages long. Scholars, pastors, and students (and their teachers) will find this to be a useful resource for biblical study, exegesis, and sermon preparation.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

— ” —

This has been a Bible student service announcement.

New books from Carta Jerusalem – # 2

The Twice Told Tale parallel study of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and more.

The Twice Told Tale parallel study of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and more.

The Twice-Told Tale. This hardback book of 284 (6½” x 9½”) pages is written by Abba Bendavid, with an introduction by Mordechai Cogan. ($64). Cogan says,

It is well-known that readers of the Bible generally skip over the Book of Chronicles [1-2 Chronicles], the last book of the Hebrew Bible [chronologically]. All too often Chronicles is seen as merely a recap and summary of the historical books that preceded it….

This book includes an index to biblical citations. It will be extremely helpful to those studying Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.

Israel Biblical Archaeology touring map.

Israel Biblical Archaeology touring map.

Israel Biblical Archaeology (A Carta Touring Map) $14.95. Carta Jerusalem describes this folding map:

 The first major comprehensive map of  archaeological sites in the Holy Land, together with over a dozen annotated historical vignette maps of major sites and events throughout the land that provide an insightful overview of all archaeological sites related to the Bible and later historical periods.

This 24 × 35½ in. map folds to 5¼×9¼ in. For those interested in locating archaeological sites this can be a very helpful resource. On the back side of the map there are numerous smaller maps and diagrams helpful in study and travel. My preference would be to have this material in spiral bound atlas format, but I expect to use the map in planning and during my next personal study trip.

Sacred Flowers, Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns by Ami Tamir is a new book published this year. The Introduction explains,

This book tells the stories of fifty plants connected to Christian tradition which can be found, in season, by the Christian pilgrim visiting the land of Israel. Illustrations that enable the pilgrim to identify the less-recognizable plants are included, and encourage the study of the rich botanical variety he/she will find on footpaths between pilgrimage sites, churches and archaeological remains.

“The encounter with the plants brings to life the wondrous tales of the Holy Family: here they acquire a deeper religious significance. That is the magic secret: to touch the matter, the rocks, the clumps of earth, and the flowers growing on them.” (From the Introduction)

Sacred Flowers Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns.

Sacred Flowers, Holy Trees & Blessed Thorns.

My personal interests are not as much attuned to the traditions and legends that have grown up around certain plants, but more to the various plants and thorns mentioned in the Bible. Nonetheless, this is a beautiful little book and one that many visitors to Israel will find helpful.

This 8″ x 5½” paperback book of 176 pages belongs to the Carta Guide Book series. It is lavishly illustrated and sells for $25.00.

Check the Carta online catalog to learn more about each book. The books also are available from Hendrickson, Amazon, and some other publishers. The books mentioned here were sent to me by Carta Jerusalem, but the comments are my own opinion.