Monastery of St. Barnabas at Salamis

May 25, 2012

BAS has this information re: the island of Cyprus:

Cyprus served as a stepping stone on the trade routes that crossed the eastern Mediterranean. Archaeological remains from as early as the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium B.C.E.) show it to have been a cultural meeting ground and “melting pot” for the successive cultures that flourished on all sides of it.

Salamis was the main port and principal city of the island in the Roman age. Located about five miles north of modern Famagusta, on its great bay, the city has yielded extensive Roman remains, including a theater, gymnasium, baths and a forum (BAS Biblical World in Pictures).

Our photo features the Monastery of St. Barnabas at Salamis.

Monastery of St. Barnabas at Salamis, Cyprus. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We are introduced to Barnabas as a “Levite of Cyprian birth” (Acts 4:36). He, along with Paul, preached at Cyprus on the 1st Missionary Journey (Acts 13:1-5). Then when it was time for the 2nd Journey, Paul traveled with Silas, revisiting Galatia and going onward to Macedonia and Greece, and Barnabas took John Mark back to Cyprus (Acts 15:39).

The earliest buildings of the monastery  date to AD 477.

Attalia, Modern Antalya, Setting for Acts 14

May 23, 2012

Narrating the return portion of Paul’s 1st Missionary Journey, Luke writes, “Now when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia” (Acts 14:25). There is no record of preaching at Attalia, but it was there that Paul and Barnabas boarded a ship: “From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed” (v.26).

Biblical Attalia is now Antalya, and

is a city on the Mediterranean coast of southwestern Turkey. It was the world’s third most visited city by number of international arrivals in 2011, displacing New York, and had a population of 1,001,318.[1] Antalya is the eighth most populous city in Turkey and country’s biggest international sea resort. (Wikipedia)

Our interest of course is in the relation of the places to the biblical text as this site provides the setting for Acts 14:25-26. At Antalya you have a view of the Lycian Mountains, which is a portion of the Taurus range.

At Biblical Attalia. View of Mediterranean Sea and Lycian Mountains. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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Theater at Salamis, Cyprus

May 17, 2012

It was an exciting time in the early church as Luke narrates his inspired history in Acts 13:

Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away. 4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 And when they arrived in Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. They also had John as their assistant.

Ferrell Jenkins and I had opportunity to visit Salamis today. Fant and Reddish observe that “more than 4 miles of walking are required to cover the entire site” (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, p. 542). It is a large site, and does not have the features of your typical tel.

The apostle Paul’s pattern upon entering a city, as seen here in our text of Acts 13, was to begin his preaching in the synagogue. Though Luke almost always describes the results of the preaching, whether favorable or not, he does not do so here.

Roman cities of significance typically had a theater. Our photo shows the theater at Salamis.

Salamis Theater. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

This theater would have once seated 15,000 spectators (ibid), making it the largest on the island of Cyprus.

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The Tabularium

May 15, 2012

We continue to explore the Roman Forum. In our photo below we see the Tabularium, the large building in the back.

Tabularium in Roman Forum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

“Tabularium” is a term for a record building. A number of other tabularia were scattered around Rome and other ancient Roman cities, but this article is about the prototype example.

The Tabularium was the official records office of ancient Rome, and also housed the offices of many city officials. Situated within the Roman Forum, it was on the front slope of the Capitoline Hill, below the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, to the southeast of the Arx and Tarpeian Rock.

Within the building were the remains of the temple of Veiovis. In front of it were the Temples of Vespasian & Concord, as well as the Rostra and the rest of the forum. Presently the Tabularium is only accessible from within the Capitoline Museum, although it still affords an excellent panoramic view over the Forum.

The Tabularium was first constructed around 78 BC, by order of M. Aemilius Lepidus and Q. Lutatius Catulus. It was later restored and renovated during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, about 46 AD. (Wikipedia).

The lower level, the gray portion, is the Roman period; upper level was built later.

In a entry entitled “Obtaining Citizenship,” (Roman citizenship) F.F. Bruce is referenced as stating

that legislation at the turn of the first century A.D. called for a legitimately born child of Roman citizens to be registered within thirty days of birth. Children born in the provinces would be legally acknowledged (professio) before the Roman provincial authority at the public record office (tabularium publicum). The professio was then entered in the register (album professionum). We do not know if Paul’s birth was before or after this legislation, but some such formal procedure had to have been in effect earlier. At regular intervals a citizen’s name, age, status and property holdings would thereafter be recorded by census. (Dictionary of New Testament Background: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship.)

At right in the photo you can see the Arch of Septimius Severus, dedicated in AD 203.


At present I am en route to Cyprus to join Ferrell Jenkins for a few days of photographing biblical sites, and biblically related sites, in Cyprus and Turkey.

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Temple of Vespasian and Titus

May 4, 2012

In our post today we continue to share some photos of sites of signifance in the Roman Forum. Today’s photo features the Temple of Vespasian and Titus.

Temple of Vespasian and Titus in Roman Forum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Wikipedia has some helpful generic info:

The Temple of Vespasian and Titus (Latin: Templum divi Vespasiani, Italian: Tempio di Vespasiano) is located in Rome at the western end of the Roman Forum between the Temple of Concordia and the Temple of Saturn. It is dedicated to the deified Vespasian and his son, the deified Titus. It was begun by Titus in AD 79 after Vespasian’s death and Titus’s succession. Titus’ brother, Domitian, completed and dedicated the temple to Titus and Vespasian in approximately AD 87.

Throughout Roman history, there was an emphasis on increasing the fame and glory of a family name, often through monuments commemorating the deceased. Therefore, the temple was constructed to honor the Flavian Dynasty, which comprised the emperors Vespasian (69-79), Titus (79-81), and Domitian (81-96). Historians question whether or not Titus and Domitian had a good relationship; however, Domitian ensured the deification of his brother into the imperial cult in order to exalt the prominence of the Flavian name. Titus and Vespasian were each deified through the ceremony of apotheosis. In doing so, tradition guaranteed that Roman citizens and subjects would honor Vespasian and Titus (or at least honor their genius) as Roman deities. This imperial cult worship was as much a sign of allegiance to the emperor of Rome, or as a political and diplomatic gesture, as it was a formal religion.

Structure. The Temple of Vespasian was in the Corinthian order, hexastyle (i.e., with a portico six columns wide), and prostyle (i.e., with free standing columns that are widely spaced apart in a row).[4] It was particularly narrow due to the limited space, measuring 33 meters long and 22 wide. In a constricted space between the temple and the Concord, a small, two story vaulted room made of brick and concrete, and lined with marble, was built against the wall of the Tabularium, and apparently was dedicated to Titus.

Construction and Renovation. Titus began construction and presumably finished the foundations, made of tufa concrete, and the core of the podium, made of white marble. Domitian, however, completed the interior work after Titus’ death. The cella (inner) walls were in travertine, lined with marbles imported at great expense from the eastern provinces. The interior is highly ornate and the frieze depicts sacred objects that would have been used as the symbols, or badges, of the various priestly collegia in Rome. Around 200 to 205, Emperors Septimius Severus and his son, Caracalla, conducted renovations on the temple.

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Q&A re: Persian Chronology in Ezra 4

May 3, 2012

A friend writes to ask that I help with the following question:

In Ezra 4-5, we read of the opposition that the Jews faced in the rebuilding of the temple. We read of Cyrus, Darius, Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes as the kings in Persia.

When Ezra jumps from Darius to Ahasuerus, is he jumping forward in history to the Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes that reigned from about 486-424, or are those titles for the son of Cyrus, Cambyses, who reigned immediately following Cyrus? Clarke suggests that these were titles for Smerdis, who reigned between Cambyses and Darius.

Is there any way to figure it out conclusively?

Here is what I believe to be the best explanation to the text:

Ezra 4:5 states that the enemies “hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.”  At that point the record goes on to mention Ahasuerus (v.6), who is to be identified as Xerxes (see NAS ft. nt.).  This is the Persian king who took Esther as queen (Xerxes reigned 486-464 B.C.).  The next verse, Ezra 4:7, then says, “And in the days of Artaxerxes..,” who is the Persian king in the days of Nehemiah, cupbearer to the king (reigned 464-423 B.C.).   Ezra 4:23 makes reference to a document of King Artaxerxes. So why are these kings who reigned after Darius (522-486 B.C., under whose reign the temple was rebuilt) mentioned here?  It seems the best answer is that the current opposition which stopped (for several years) the rebuilding of the temple furnished the occasion for the writer to list similar efforts made by enemies of God’s people to hurt and halt His work including the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.  As Fensham noted, the author “is referring in this chapter in chronological order to the hindrances placed in the way of the Jews to rebuild the temple and the wall of Jerusalem.  When he discussed the problems of the building of the temple in 4:1-5, it reminded him of later similar troubles with the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem, and so 4:6-23 has been inserted, almost parenthetically, before the argument of the building of the temple has again been taken up in 4:24ff) (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament: The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, p.70).  “…the author of this chapter enumerated the different hostile actions against the Jews…” (ibid.71).   This explanation was earlier given by Keil in the 19th century (Vol.4, p.46), who went on to say, “v.24, so far, then, as its [subject] matter is concerned, belongs to the following chapter, to which it forms an introduction (ibid.47).

The Oriental Institute Museum has an impressive collection of Persian artifacts which relate to the biblical period.

Bull from Palace at Persepolis. Dates to Persian Kings Xerxes and Artaxerxes I. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The accompanying info sign dates this bull to the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes (Xerxes married Esther and made her queen; Artaxerxes was king during the days of Nehemiah) and goes on to state:

Paris of guardian figures commonly protected the entrance to important buildings in the ancient Near East.

This highly polished stone head originally belonged to one of two guardian bulls flanking the portico of the hundred-column hall at Persepolis.

[This head] which weights approximately ten tons, was transported to Chicago and restored by Mr. Donato Bastiani, a member of the Oriental Institute Museum technical staff.

The two bulls were carved in the court style typical of the Achaemenid Empire. The ears and horns, which had been added separately, were not found.

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Temple of Vesta, Roman Forum

May 2, 2012

The Roman goddess Vesta was the goddess of the hearth. She

was considered the patron of the fire that symbolized the perpetuity of the state. It was the responsibility of the priestesses to maintain this sacred fire and to renew it each year on March 1, the first day of the Roman year (The Wycliffe historical geography of Bible lands).

We photographed the remains of the Temple of Vesta in the Roman Forum a few weeks ago.

Temple of Vesta in Roman Forum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

 Vos, in his work, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Manners & Customs: How the People of the Bible Really Lived, asks the reader to suppose that when Paul’s trial was conducted in Rome that he entered the Forum on the east side:

As Paul came into the Forum area down the Sacred Way from the east, the first building he would have passed was the house of the vestal virgins. He might have observed that the house was rather large for a sisterhood of only six priestesses. But such an objection is erased with the observation that the vestals were held in high esteem and that their house was chosen by private citizens and by the state as a safe deposit for documents.

Adjacent to this house was the Temple of Vesta, considered the goddess of the hearth and the patron of the fire that symbolized the perpetuity of the state. It was the responsibility of the priestesses to maintain this sacred fire and to renew it each year on March 1, the first day of the Roman year (p.606).

Wikipedia has this additional info:

The extant temple used Greek architecture with Corinthian columns, marble, and a central cella. The remaining structure indicates that there were twenty Corinthian columns built on a podium fifteen metres in diameter. The roof probably had a vent at the apex to allow smoke release.


My friend Ferrell Jenkins is currently directing a biblical study tour in Turkey & Greece. He will be posting as time permits on Ferrell’s Travel Blog.

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The Twin Brothers, Castor and Pollux

May 1, 2012

After Paul had suffered shipwreck on the island of Malta (Acts 27:39-44; 28:1), and wintered there, he continued his trip (as a prisoner) to Rome. Luke writes, “After three months we sailed in an Alexandrian ship whose figurehead was the Twin Brothers, which had wintered at the island” (Acts 28:11, NKJV). The Twin Brothers were the mythical Greek gods (assimilated by the Romans) Castor and Pollux, sons of the god Zeus.

The NIV renders the text, “After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux” (cf. KJV).

The NET Bibles notes:

tn Or “the ‘Twin Gods'”; Grk “the Dioscuri” (a joint name for the pagan deities Castor and Pollux). sn That had the “Heavenly Twins” as its figurehead. The twin brothers Castor and Pollux, known collectively as the Dioscuri or “Heavenly Twins,” were the twin sons of Zeus and Leda according to Greek mythology. The Alexandrian ship on which Paul and his companions sailed from Malta had a carved emblem or figurehead of these figures, and they would have been the patron deities of the vessel. Castor and Pollux were the “gods of navigation.” To see their stars was considered a good omen (Epictetus, Discourses 2.18.29; Lucian of Samosata, The Ship 9).

Remains of the temple of Castor and Pollux may be seen in the Roman Forum.

Temple of Castor and Pollux in Roman Forum. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The temple was built in gratitude for victory at the Battle of Lake Regillus (495 BC). This site furnishes yet another link between surviving archaeological artifacts and references in the biblical text.

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