Monthly Archives: September 2009

Venice and Mark

This view shows one corner of the Doge’s palace and the columns with the lion representing Mark the Evangelist. (Some of us would simply say Mark, the writer of the gospel that bears his name.) The buildings visible in the distance are across the Grand Canal.

Note the pigeons resting on the lamp post. There are now fewer pigeons in the Square than in the past because the city has quit feeding then.

Doges Palace and view from St. Mark's Square. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Doges Palace and view from St. Mark's Square. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

St. Mark’s Cathedral and Square is one of the best known tourist attractions in the world. The building is of the Byzantine style, but the liturgy is Roman Catholic. Madden explains how a Byzantine building happens to be in Italy.

The Byzantine style of St. Mark’s Cathedral bespeaks the maritime past of the Venetian republic, and its long range interests in the eastern Mediterranean, the Mare Nostrum of the Romans (A Religious Guide to Europe, 298).

Clock Tower and the Domes of St. Mark's. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Clock Tower and the Domes of St. Mark's. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It is alleged by some that the body (or relics) of St. Mark the Evangelist were brought to Venice in the 9th century B.C. by Venetian merchants.

Today we traveled from Venice to Florence. It rained most of that time. By the time we reached Florence we had some clearing. At the moment it is bright outside.

Everyone in the group is doing well.

Avoiding the Merchants of Venice

We had a full day in Venice. Our hotel is located on the mainland at Mestre, but we were in Venice about 12 hours. I hope to have a few photos to share later, but doubt I will get them uploaded tonight.

Everyone in the group spent the full day stepping from one island to another. I expect that everyone will sleep well tonight.

Just a few words from William Shakespeare:

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose. (The Merchant of Venice, 1. 3)

The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway,
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s,
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. (The Merchant of Venice, 4. 1)

Innsbruck to Venice via Verona

Today we traveled from Innsbruck to Venice. This involved driving over the Brenner Pass and through the Dolomite region of the Italian Alps. It rain off and on most of the day, but that did not seem to deter the enjoyment of the experience for the tour members.

We had some time in Verona, Italy, for a visit of the city. Everyone wants to see the balcony associated with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It was impossible to get a good photo because of the large number of tour groups composed of college age young people. Here is a little peak.

Romeo & Juliet Window in Verona. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Romeo & Juliet Window in Verona. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I was more fascinated by the strong Roman fortifications that are still visible around the city. The Colosseum, which was built in the first century B.C. or the first century A.D., is the third largest in the world and is among the best preserved from the ancient world.

The Colosseum is located in the center of the town and is still used for various musical performances.

Roman Colosseum in Verona, Italy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Roman Colosseum in Verona, Italy. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We look forward to visiting Venice tomorrow. The city is situated more than two miles from the mainland on 118 islands connected by many stone bridges and interlaced by more than 150 canals.

So far as I can detect all of the members of our group are in good health and good spirit.

Lucerne, Liechtenstein, and Innsbruck

After a period of worship Sunday morning we left Lucerne headed east to the Austrian town of Innsbruck. The weather of the day was mixed with periods of light rain and sunshine. For lunch we stopped in Vaduz, capital of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The country is sometimes referred to as a postage stamp country. This is for two reasons. Much of the income comes from selling postage stamps to collectors. The other is the size of the country. It consists of an area covering about 62 square miles. Some of the countries of Europe are not as large as some American cities or counties.

The downtown area of Vaduz, the capital of the country, has been turned into a pedestrian shopping mall. The king of Liechtenstein is a collector of modern art. Modern sculptures cover the strolling area of the city. One piece that caught my attention was a bronze mask called African King. I made my photo to show the Agfa sign on the store behind the mask. My caption for the photo is “A mind filled with images.” Discern if you can.

A mind filled with images. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A mind filled with images. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Driving throught the heart of the Alps we arrived in Innsbruck, capital of the Austrian province of Tyrol. This 800-year-old city was named for the bridge across the Inn River, first built in the 12th century. It doesn’t take long to see the highlights of the city. The Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), a late Gothic oriel with 2,657 gold-plated tiles, was built between 1494 and 1496 under the rule of Emperor Maximilian I as a royal box for spectacles held in the square below.

The Golden Roof in Innsbruck. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Golden Roof in Innsbruck. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Heinrich Bullinger, successor to Zwingli

Upon the untimely death of Zwingli, Heinrich Bullinger (A.D. 1504- 1575)  became pastor of the Gossmunster in Zurich. He is not as well known as other leaders of the early Reformation, but was a significant thinker and writer.  This statue of Bullinger is attached on the wall of the Grossmunster to the right of the entry.

Heinrich Bullinger. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.Statue of Bullinger. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In the days of Zwingli the altars and images were removed from the Grossmunster in Zurich. The interior of the building has been restored to its orignal Romanesque appearance.

Interior of the Grossmunster in Zurich. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Interior of the Grossmunster in Zurich. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Take a look at Sacred Destinations if you would like to see some more information about the Grossmunster and good photos of sites in Zurich.

A beautiful but hazy day in the Bernese Oberland

Today we visited the Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. It was a beautiful sunny day by about 10 a.m., but the distant mountains remained hazy almost all day. We went to Trummelbach Falls. Using an elevator and steps one is able to go inside the mountain to see the falls.  I think everyone in our group saw at least part of the falls, and several went all the way to the top.

Here is a photo I made of one of the colorful buildings. It is typical here for houses and other buildings to display beautiful flowers under their window”I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, He who pastures his flock among the lilies.”s. This provide color for those passing buy as well as for those in the house. This reminds me of the Shunamite (Shulamite) girl’s description of her beloved.

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine, He who pastures his flock among the lilies.” (Song of Solomon 6:3)

A little color adds a lot to life even when one has to deal with difficult earthly problems.

A beautiful house at Lauterbrunen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A beautiful hotel at Lauterbrunnen. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Both in Lucerne and in Interlaken we saw some small tour groups traveling on Segways. This service is offered in the City of David in Jerusalem (click here), but it is the first time I have seen it in action. I think each participtant can hear the leader speaking through the earphones in the helmet.

Segway tour in Lucerne, Switzerland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Segway tour in Lucerne, Switzerland. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If you know some of the people in our group and wish to read more about the individuals, take a look at Journey’s With Jane.

Third Man of the Reformation

Ulrich (or Huldrich) Zwingli was born January 1, 1484, about 50 days after the birth of Martin Luther. Zwingli is sometimes called the “third man of the Reformation” after Luther and Calvin (Jean Rilliet, Zwingli: Third Man of the Reformation).

Zwingli Statue in Zurich. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Zwingli Statue in Zurich. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Zwingli was born in a small town in eastern Switzerland. His family was able to provide a good education for him. He first attended the University of Vienna and then the University of Basel. Dr. Dan Petty describes one of the influences that led him away from Catholicism.

“His education brought him into contact with humanistic studies and he became an ardent admirer of Erasmus of Rotterdam. This emphasis tended to lead Zwingli away from the Scholastic theology of medieval Catholicism, and toward the study of the Bible.”

Church historians have described the difference between Zwingli and Luther in their respective attitude about the silence of the Scriptures.

“While Luther was disposed to leave untouched what the Bible did not prohibit, Zwingli was more inclined to reject what the Bible did not enjoin” (George P. Fisher, The Reformation, 145).

“Luther said we may do what the Bible does not forbid. Zwingli said what the Bible does not command we may not do, and on that account he gave up all images and crosses in the churches.  In this respect he was like the Iconoclasts.  Organs in church also were given up. The Lutherans loved to sing around the organ. The Zwinglians, if they sang at all, did so without any instrument” (Roland H. Bainton, The Church of Our Fathers, 143-144).

The Zurich city council called Zwingli to serve at the cathedral there. Darrell Turner, in a Religious News Service article commemorating Zwingli’s 500th birthday in 1984, said:

“His first Sunday in the pulpit of Zurich’s Grossmuenster Cathedral was also Zwingli’s 35th brithday. He shocked his listeners by announcing that instead of following the prescribed liturgy, he would preach through the Gospel of Matthew on a weekly basis.”

That was a simple. unique, and powerful things for Zwingli to do. Folks don’t like you messing with the order of service, as many a young minister has learned. But there was much more involved here. Zwingli was making a break from what Rome prescribed to be done. Going back to the Bible is always a noble thing.

Perhaps we can post more later about Heinrich Bullinger, the successor to Zwingli, in Zurich.

Second Temple period synagogue discovered at Magdala

Israel Antiquities Authority announces the discovery of one of the oldest synagogues known.

A synagogue from the Second Temple period (50 BCE-100 CE) was exposed in archaeological excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority is conducting at a site slated for the construction of a hotel on Migdal [Magdala] beach, in an area owned by the Ark New Gate Company. In the middle of the synagogue is a stone that is engraved with a seven-branched menorah (candelabrum), the likes of which have never been seen. The excavations were directed by archaeologists Dina Avshalom-Gorni and Arfan Najar of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The town of Magdala is not mentioned in the Bible, but Mary Magdalene is mentioned a total of 12 times in the four gospels. This place may have been her birthplace or her home. A few late manuscripts mention Magdala (Matthew 15:39 KJV), but earlier manuscripts read Magadan. Magdala is located about 4 miles north of Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Josephus had his headquarters at Magdala during the first Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-70). He was able to get a group of at least 230 boats to go from Magdala to Tiberias (Jewish Wars 2.635-637). Vespasian attacked the town from the sea and destroyed it.

IAA reports the following facts about the new discovery.

The main hall of synagogue is c. 120 square meters in area and its stone benches, which served as seats for the worshippers, were built up against the walls of the hall. Its floor was made of mosaic and its walls were treated with colored plaster (frescos).

A square stone, the top and four sides of which are adorned with reliefs, was discovered in the hall. The stone is engraved with a seven-branched menorah set atop a pedestal with a triangular base, which is flanked on either side by an amphora (jars).

The decorated stone depicting . Phoo: Moshe Hartal, IAA.

The decorated stone depicting seven-branch Menorah. Phoo: Moshe Hartal, IAA.

The complete IAA report may be read here.

HT: Joseph Lauer

Group arrives safely in Switzerland

We arrived on time this morning after an all night flight from Atlanta to Zurich. As soon as we got out luggage, with three or four bags missing, we went to downtown Zurich to visit the statue of Ulrich Zwingli at the Wasserkirche (Water Church), the Grossmünster (the great cathedral where Zwingli preached in the early 15th century), and a few other sites in the downtown area of the city.

After our guide presented some of the history of the political and religious conditions in Switzerland in the early 15th century, I took the opportunity to talk about the work and beliefs of Zwingli as an early leader of the Reformation Movement. More in a later post.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group at the Zwingli Statue in Zurich.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group at the Zwingli Statue in Zurich.

The steps there seemed like a good place to line up the group for a photo. If you think you know someone in the group you may click on the photo for a larger image. This wasn’t our “official” tour photo with banner, etc., and some of the ladies didn’t much like the idea of the photo being posted. I think they look nice after being up all night. How about you?

Remembering Black Tuesday: 9-11


The little ribbon was used by many immediately after the events of 9-11, but I haven’t seen it much lately.

David West, a minister in Florida, presented a lesson on the Sunday following 9-11 entitled “Black Tuesday: Reflections on Another Day of Infamy.” I think you might enjoy taking a look the full speech. The link is here.

It is only by remembering such horrific events that we will be able to avoid similar ones in the future.