Monthly Archives: December 2007

Some favorite travel photos of 2007

In the olden days of 35mm I made about 300 to 400 photos on each trip. Now, with digital photography I make 3000 to 4000. Out of that number I find a few good ones that can be used in various presentations. Pardon me for sharing with you a few of my personal favorites of our foreign tours in 2007.

This photo was made in Tarsus of Cilicia (now in Turkey). This was the hometown of Saul, later the Apostle Paul. Elizabeth and I stopped to smell the roses. I think few of us really take enough time to do that. I don’t remember who made the photo. Maybe Larry or Olen. Leave a comment if you remember.

Ferrell and Elizabeth at Tarsus in Cilicia

One of the highlights of the Ancient Crossroads Tour of Historical and Biblical Sites in Turkey was locating the ancient Roman Road north of Tarsus. I had known of this road for a long time but had been unable to get to it. What a thrill!

Ferrell Jenkins on the Roman Road North of Tarsus.

David Padfield made this photo. David is a great photographer and knowledgeable in photographic equipment and techniques. He also made the photo below. In fact, he has a little story behind it. This was made at Arsameia in the mountains of Eastern Turkey. This was the capital of the Kingdom of Commagene in the first century B.C. Elizabeth made David, Gene, and Leon promise that they would not let me fall off a cliff. David sent her an enlargement of this photo with a note that this was as close as he could get to me.

Ferrell Jenkins at Arsameia. Photo by David Padfield.

On our September trip to Scotland I enjoyed going to the Isle of Iona, site of a medieval monastery. It was an always misty, and often rainy, experience. I am not sure, but think Jim made this photo.

Ferrell and Elizabeth on the Isle of Iona in Scotland.

Those who traveled with us must have their own favorites. Send a comment to tell us about it.

We have been greatly blessed to travel to so many places on earth over the past 40 years, and to be able to share them with others. Thanks for the memories!

Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus

The media is giving its usual Christmas Eve attention to Bethlehem today. The New Testament teaches that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king (Matthew 2:1). The month, day, and year of the birth of Jesus is not stated in the New Testament. We do have some historical information that helps with the date, but not precise information is available (Luke 2).
Do we know the place of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem? About A.D. 160 Justin Martyr said, “when the child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village” (Dialogue With Trypho, 78). Near the middle of the third century Origen said that the cave where Jesus was born was being shown and that even the enemies of the faith were talking of it. Jerome was a resident of Bethlehem from A.D. 386 until his death in A.D. 420. He tells how the birthplace of Jesus, the place of the crucifixion and the tomb where Jesus had lain were defiled from the time of Hadrian to the reign of Constantine. The Church of the Nativity now stands at this spot. Of this location, Dalman says:

No one could discern in this former rocky chamber the place of the Nativity. The altar at the east end was perhaps not erected originally to designate the exact spot, although the background of the grotto would make it probable. Here also is the only remarkable feature in it, namely a small adjoining room which contains in the right wall a low niche resembling a manger (Sacred Sites and Ways, 38).

Typical of so many, this site has enjoyed its share of fanciful speculations. Tradition locates the spot where the adoration of the Magi took place and a projection in the background is taken to be the table at which the Virgin ate with the Magi. Like so much speculation, these overlook the fact that the gospel account represents the Magi as arriving at some time after the birth of Jesus and that they found the child with Mary in a “house.” The Wise Men may have had a fast means of transportation, but one should not forget that they traveled by plain, not plane; they came not from the east side of town, but from the East.
This photo shows the exterior of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem - The Church of Nativity

The Church of the Nativity has a long history. It is now a Greek Orthodox church. Underneath the altar is the Grotto of the Nativity where it is said that Jesus was born. Maybe, maybe not. A silver star was set in the marble pavement in 1717. The Latin inscription, “HIC DE VIRGINE MARIA JESUS CHRISTUS NATUS EST.” The translation: “Here Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary.”

Bethlehem - The Church of Nativity - Star in the Grotto of the Nativity

Among the confusion of the date of the birth of Jesus, and the lack of New Testament authority for a church celebration on a certain day, let us not forget that the eternal Word became flesh, and dwelt among men in order to bring salvation to those who obey Him through his death upon the cross (John 1:1, 14; Luke 19:10).

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” – Hebrews 5:8-9, ESV

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Where did Noah’s Ark land?

Bible and Spade has made the Fall 2006 issue available in PDF. The entire issue deals with questions of current interest to scholars about the landing of Noah’s Ark. Some recent claims that the ark might have landed in Iran are discussed. The evidence for the two main sites (or regions) in Eastern Turkey are discussed in detail.

One of the main sites is on, or near, Mount Ararat. The mountain is located just a few miles from the Iranian border in eastern Turkey. Here is a photo I made at Mount Ararat earlier in the summer.

Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

The other location is Mount Cudi in southeastern Turkey near the border with Iraq. We were unable to visit this site due to the issues between Turkey and the PKK (very much in the news lately).

The Bible says the ark came to rest on the “mountains of Ararat” (Genesis 8:4). Either of these sites fall within that description.

You may download the Fall 2006 issue of Bible and Spade here in PDF (2.0 MB).

Bible and Spade - Fall 2006

I recommend Bible and Spade. I subscribe and have the back issues in Logos Libronix format for easy searching. Go here for more information about subscribing or securing the back issues. Dr. Bryant G. Wood is the editor of Bible and Spade.

C. S. Lewis on the cover of Time

Time announced Vladimir Putin as Person of the Year today.

Many do not know that C. S. Lewis was featured on the cover of Time, September 8, 1947. The article about him was titled, “His heresy: Christianity.” If you have enjoyed the Narnia books and movie, or if you have read his apologetic books, I think you would enjoy our pictorial essay on sites associated with Lewis at Oxford, England. Click here.

C. S. Lewis on the cover of Time.

You may view the first trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian here.

I Hope You Won’t Get Jerusalem Syndrome

Journalist Ari Rabinovich has written about the Jerusalem Syndrome here. He briefly describes JerSyn in these words:

Only about a dozen Jerusalem tourists per year suddenly get agitated, imagine themselves to be characters from the Bible, fashion makeshift togas out of hotel sheets and go out to holy sites to recite the Psalms, sing hymns or harangue passers-by to repent.

It is a fascinating article, and also has a link to another article he has written, “Come to Jerusalem, see the Messiah?”

Jerusalem From the Mount of Olives

I think you will admit that the view of Jerusalem from the descent of the Mount of Olives is breathtaking. It is even more so when you see it in person.

The Arrogance of Atheism

The study of apologetics or evidences for the defense of Christianity has been a special interest of mine for half a century now. While there has been opposition to Christianity as a divinely revealed religion, and to the Bible as the special revelation of the mind of God all along, much of it has been subtle. Of late we have begun to notice that Atheism has become evangelistic in their opposition to the Faith.

Time publishes a list of Top 10 this and that at the end of the year. I took a look at the Top 10 Religion Stories. Number 7 in that list is “The Roar of Atheist Books.” Here is a brief summary:

Statistics may or may not show that there has been an actual increase in the number of Americans who believe there is no God. But one thing is certain: Conservative religious influence riled up enough secular authors to produce a slew of skeptical literature, and enough readers were intrigued to turn Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation) into bold-faced names and turn Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything), bold-faced already, into a one-man literary cottage industry.

Christians must not hide their heads in the sand and hope no one notices these works. Even in New Testament times, Peter urged the Christians who were living in a society a lot like ours to be set for the defense of the Gospel.

But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. (1 Peter 3:15-16, NET Bible)

At, there are many good links under Apologetics that will help you prepare to answer attacks on the faith. Become acquainted with these materials.

The arrogance of atheism is astounding. Imagine a person who lives on one square meter of the earth (at any given time) for a total of 60 to 100 years, being able to make pronouncements about eternity and all things. The writer of Hebrews says, “For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:5, NET Bible). It is amazing that individuals who attribute everything to chance think they are so smart. And if they are right, we can’t help being believers!

This morning Time has an article about Sunday School for Atheists. The children in our Bible classes need to learn Bible stories, but they also need to learn the evidences that help to sustain the faith against various cultural attacks.

You might want to take a look at the Blog of Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Seminary. He regularly writes blogs dealing with these cultural issues. Be sure to note what he has said about The Golden Compass.

Todd Bolen and the BiblePlaces Newsletter

Just when I had about given up,
what to my wondering eyes did appear,
but a BiblePlaces Newsletter with 8 tiny photos of Jerusalem and Judah in Snow. (with apologies to no one!)

When Todd Bolen left Israel to come to the USA to pursue doctoral work I surmised that he would soon become too busy to continue with his Newsletter. He has done a fine job of keeping the Bible Places Blog up to date with notices of important archaeological news from Israel.

I have encouraged many people to subscribe to Todd’s BiblePlaces Newsletter and to buy his wonderful Pictorial Library of Bible Lands. After nearly forty trips to Israel, I still find that I am sometimes lacking the exact photo I need. I often find just the right one in this collection.

In the December BiblePlaces Newsletter there are 8 beautiful photos of Jerusalem and Judah in the snow. Todd was in the country about 10 years and had the opportunity to get photos at the right time.

Here is a small photo of the Mount of Olives and Kidron Valley. From the Newsletter you may download high resolutions copies of all eight photos. For those who use PowerPoint the photos are also available in PowerPoint format.

Mount of Olives and Kidron Valley in Snow

Here is Todd’s comment on the photo:

Looking northeast from the City of David, one gets an impressive view of the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives. Several stories occurred within the view of this photo, including David’s fleeing from Absalom (2 Sam 15:30) and Jesus’ crossing the Kidron Valley on his way to Gethsemane (John 18:1). The church in the center left of the photo is built over the traditional Gethsemane and the impressive tomb monument in the lower right is incorrectly known as the “Pillar of Absalom.”

To see the BiblePlaces Newsletter, December, 2007, click here. Opportunity to subscribe to the Newsletter is available at the bottom of the page. You can also learn how to order the Pictorial Library there.

Thanks, Todd. Your work has been a blessing to many.

Christmas, St. Nicholas, and Myra

Christmas is approaching. I would like to call your attention to an article I have written about Christmas. You may read it here. A more detailed outline, The Truth About Christmas, giving both biblical and historical information is available in PDF at You are welcome to duplicate these articles for your own use. Please do not make changes in them.

Even by the end of the first century the church was beginning to move away from the apostolic pattern. One of the earliest departures was in church government. Instead of each church having a plurality of elders (bishops, overseers, pastors) (Acts 14:23; Philippians 1:1), it became popular to elevate one man to the position of Bishop over the elders.

In the fourth century there was a bishop at Myra, by the name of Nicholas, who was benevolent to those in need. From this historical person there arose the legend of Saint Nicholas, eventually Santa Claus.

Myra was a town of Lycia about 85 miles from Antalya, Turkey (biblical Attalia, Acts 14:25). The town is located a few miles away from the Mediterranean, but has a port. When Paul was being escorted by a Roman centurion from Caesarea Maritima to Rome, the ship sailed along the coast of Cilicia and Pamphylia, and landed at Myra in Lycia (Acts 27:5). There they found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy.

Whether Paul was close enough to see any of Myra we do not know. There are several interesting things that could have been seen. I have only visited Myra once, in 1987. I mention this to say that it was before the days of digital photos. Here is a photo of the house-type tombs in the cliffs at Myra dating from the 4th century B.C.

Rock Cut Tombs at Myra in Lycia

The theater at Myra dates from the 2nd century B.C., and had a capacity of 10,000 spectators. The following photo comes from the Wikipedia entry on Myra.

Theater at Myra in Lycia

Ruins of the Church of Saint Nicholas can be seen at nearby Demre. Here is a photo I made of the statue of St. Nicholas in 1987.

St. Nicholar at Demre (Myra) in Lycia

And that’s how legend grows!