Hierapolis and Aphrodisias

This morning we visited Hierapolis, a city famous for its hot mineral springs and terraced travertine formations. Tradition associates this city with Philip. It is not clear whether Philip the apostle, or Philip the evangelist is intended. A colonnaded street and the Arch of Domitian (emperor A.D. 81-96) was erected by Julius Frontinus, proconsul of Asia about A.D. 82-83. The book of Revelation was written about the time of Domitian’s death.

Elizabeth and I have been traveling some of these roads together since 1967.

Papias (about A.D. 60 to A.D. 130) was a disciple of the apostle John and a companion of Polycarp. Fragments of his writings about the apostles survive in Irenaeus and Eusebius. He is said to have been Bishop of Hierapolis. Eusebius (active about A.D. 185), tells us that Papias wrote as follows:

Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him.

Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia. (Euseius, Against Heresies III.1.1)

Paul commended Epaphras for his labor on behalf of all of the churches of the Lycus River valley.

For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:13).

On the way to the Aegean coast we visited the fabulous new excavations at Aphrodisias. The National Geographic Society sponsored the excavations here for about 30 years. Many of the items from the Roman time are well preserved. These include the Roman stadium, the temple of Aphrodite, the odeon, the baths, and some marvelous sculp­tures in the Museum.

Tonight we are at Kusadasi, the Turkish resort town on the Aegean. Our hotel is about 12 miles from the ancient site of Ephesus which we hope to see tomorrow.

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