Category Archives: Church History

The Arch of Domitian at Hierapolis

Hierapolis is 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. See here for more information and photos. 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.

Arch of Domitian at Hierapolis. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The colonnaded street and Arch of Domitian, Roman Emperor (A.D. 81-96), erected by Julius Frontinus, proconsul of Asia about A.D. 82-83. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

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).

The photo is suitable for use in presentations for teaching.

How would Bet Guvrin look during a pandemic?

After the Parthians destroyed Maresha (40 B.C.), the city moved to a nearby village known as Bet (or Beth, or Beit) Guvrin. In A.D. 200, the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus established a Roman city and named it Eleutheropolis (A. Kloner, The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, I:195). Murphy-O’Connor says, “The prosperity of the city at this period is underlined by an oval amphitheatre.”

Aerial view of Bet Guvrin (Eleutheropolis). The amphitheater is located at the bottom of the left top corner of the photo. Highway 35 is on the right. Some ruins of Eleutheropolis can be seen on the south side (right) of the highway. If you have traveled in this area you may have stopped at the small gas station for a snack or a bite of lunch. The small road in the upper right corner leads to the entry to Maresha and the caves. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins in April, 2016.

Stemius Severus, Roman Emperor, AD 193-211. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Marble bust of Emperor Septimius Severus (A.D. 193-211) displayed in Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Before I move to the idea of a pandemic I should say that I really enjoy the artwork used in so many of Israel’s national parks. I even use one from the city of Avedat as the header for this blog.

There were plagues in the Roman Empire. The popular article by Caroline Wazer in The Atlantic discusses “The Plagues That Might Have Brought Down the Roman Empire” (March 16, 2016).

When Leon Mauldin and I visited the excavated ruins at Bet Guvrin in 2017 we enjoyed seeing many of the cutout figures adorning the ancient ruins. There were leaders from the Roman, Byzantine, Crusader, and the Mamluk period welcoming us.

Loosen your mind and let it fly as we enter this Israeli National Park, imagining there is a pandemic. I wanted to be friendly. At first I thought the soldier was welcoming me, but I think now that he may have been saying “stay two meters” from me. If we can’t control this thing we may have to begin wearing masks. None of us want that.”

Ferrell Jenkins greeted by Roman soldier at Bet Guvrin. Photo by Leon Mauldin/Ferrell Jenkins.

Ferrell Jenkins with a Roman Soldier at Bet Guvrin. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

As we approach the Roman amphitheater we observe that those still willing to gather in public are social distancing as they approach the entry.

The amphitheater at Bet Guvrin. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Amphitheater at Bet Guvrin has been decorated to remind us of the Roman period. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some fans can not resist giving their opinion to the others around them.

Glatiatorial fans approach the entrance. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

One fan turns to the other and asks if the monkey has been tested. The man behind wonders if he has been washed. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The amphitheater has been reconstructed with seating for various modern performances.

Inside the amphitheater we noticed that almost everyone was social distancing. We felt better about deciding to attend. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The gladiators are fighting viciously but still keeping their distance.

Gladiators at Bet Guvrin keep their distance from each other. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Even the gladiators keep their distance. Getting the virus could be worse than the sword or trident. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In a future post I plan to show you how the pandemic is affecting the archaeological work at the site.

When we are once again allowed to travel to Israel I think you may want to visit Bet Guvrin.

The Pool of Bethesda

The Pool of Bethesda is mentioned only once in the New Testament. At this pool Jesus healed a man who had been an invalid for 38 years.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. (John 5:2 ESV)

The pool consisted of two pool near what we know today as the Lion’s Gate or Saint Stephen’s Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem. The church of Saint Anne faces the east side of the southern pool. The two pools were divided by a barrier wall between them. Citing the 1938 French publication by N. Van Der Vliet , Shimon Gibson says,

The Bethesda Pool was divided into two parts: the “Northern Pool” (53 x 40 m) which served as a reservoir for collected rainwater (with a capacity of some 21,200 cubic metres of water), and the “Southern Pool” (47 x 52 m) which was used for bathing (see below). The two pools would have been surrounded by porticoes (stoai) on four of its sides (with flat, not tiled, roofs), and with an additional portico (open on both sides) ex- tending across the barrier wall separating the two pools. The pools were not symmetrically rectangular, but were trapezoidal in form, (“The Excavations at the Bethesda Pool in Jerusalem: Preliminary Report on a Project of Stratigraphic and Structural Analysis”, pp. 17-44 in F. Bouwen (ed.), Sainte-Anne de Jérusalem. La Piscine Probatiquen de Jésus À Saladin. Proche-Orient Chrétien Numéro Spécial. 2011, Saint Anne: Jerusalem, p. 23).

Photo of the Pool of Bethesda from the Second Temple Model, Israel Museum, Jerusalem. In this model you see the two pools with the five colonnades or porticoes, the Herodian temple, and the Antonia (the building with the four towers build to protect the temple precinct. Notice that the model shows tiled roofs which Gibson says was not the case. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Gibson says that the archaeological excavations have revealed that Early Roman, Late Roman, two phases of Byzantine, and the Crusader period are known here. That area now looks like this.

The Pool of Bethesda excavations. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The excavated area of the Pool of Bethesda showing the Crusader and Byzantine ruins. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This nice map from the Bible Mapper Blog shows the relationship of the Pools of Bethesda to the Temple Mount. Those who have visited the Temple Mount in recent years may have exited on the northern side and visited the Pool (or Pools) of Bethesda. As you exit there is a noticeable depression. This is where the Pool of Israel or the Sheep Pool was located.

This map shows the Pools of Bethesda near the top. It comes from the Bible Mapper Blog.

The foreground of the next photo shows ruins of various pools from the Roman period that are known to have been considered a place of healing. Votive offering to Serapis and Asklepius, pagan healing gods, were found in the excavations.

In the foreground, to the east of the church ruins, we have ruins from the Roman period showing a sacred area known to have been considered a place of healing. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Even though the invalid of John 5 had been brought there by friends or neighbors (he could not have come by himself) he remained an invalid. André Parrot says Jesus,

… achieved a victory over the gods of classical paganism which had been introduced into the very heart of Jerusalem, the city of Yahweh (Land of Christ, p. 100).

Jerash (Gerasa) in Jordan

Jerash is also called Gerasa and Jarash. It was founded by Alexander the Great about 332 B.C., but declined as an important city about 300 B.C. The ruins are seen today are principally from the second century A.D. Roman city. We can imagine what the city of the time of Jesus looked like.

Gerasa/Jerash

This map shows the relationship of Gerasa/Jerash to Galilee, the principal area of Jesus’ ministry. Photo prepared with BibleMapper v.5. ferrelljenkins.blog.

Jerash is located in a well-watered valley in the mountains of Gilead. The modern village is inhabited mostly by Circassians, who were brought there by the Turks in the last part of the 19th century.

Hadrian's Arch, Jerash, Jordan. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

The Triumphal Arch was constructed at the time of the visit of the Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 129. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A German traveler named Seetzen rediscovered Gerash for the Western world in 1806. Excavations were begun in the 1920s. The main points of interest include the following: Triumphal Arch (built in 129 A.D. to celebrate Hadrian’s visit; Oval-shaped Forum (only one of its kind from the Roman period, from 1st century); Temple of Artemis (columns are 45 feet high with Corinthian capitals); Cathedral Church (ca. A.D. 350-375). Thirteen Byzantine churches have been excavated at Jerash.

Cardo from Roman city Jerash, Jordan. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

A view of the cardo of Jerash in Jordan. Jerash was one of the cities of the Decapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

People from the Decapolis followed Jesus during His ministry in Galilee. Jerash was the second largest city of the Decapolis, after Damascus (Matthew 4:23-25). When Jesus traveled through the Decapolis he possibly visited the area around Jerash (Mark 7:31).

Rolling stone tombs #5 – the site of the Holy Sepulchre

Jesus was crucified outside Jerusalem (John 19:20), probably not far from a gate (Hebrews 13:12), near a road (Mark 15:29; Matthew 27:39), and near a garden with a new tomb in it (John 19:41). Nothing about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre reminds one of the actual setting where Christ was crucified and buried. One must remember, that Jerusalem has been continuously inhabited for many centuries. Strong evidence suggests that the site now occupied by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was outside the wall of Jerusalem at the time of Christ.

Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Photo: ferrelljenkins.blog.

Crowds wait to enter the edicule covering the tomb of Jesus after examination and cleaning in 2017. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Kathleen Kenyon found evidence in the 1970s that the wall which now encompasses the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on the foundation which was constructed about A.D. 41 by Herod Agrippa. In A.D.
30 [or 33, depending on how one reads the evidence], when Jesus stood before Pilate, the site of the Holy Sepulchre would have been outside the wall.

Some columns in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre date from the fourth century church built by Constantine. Excavators exposed part of the foundations of Hadrian’s Roman Forum, dating from A.D. 135, in which the Temple of Aphrodite was built.

A portion of the Herodian wall was discovered in the 1970s by M. Broshi within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This showed that Golgotha was just outside the city wall.

D. Katsimibinis, in the late 1970s, showed that the rock of Calvary still rises nearly 40 feet above bedrock. The rock bears the mark of ancient quarrying. Some scholars believe that this remnant of stone was a rejected quarry stone (Charlesworth, Jesus Within Judaism, 124). “And moreover, there are no competing places for Calvary or Golgotha prior to the last century” (Charlesworth, 123). See also André Parrot, Golgotha and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Jesus would have been placed in this tomb sometime before sun down on Friday, and raised sometime before sun up on the first day of the week (our Sunday). See Luke 24:1, 13, 21.

The tomb of Jesus. Parrot, Land of Christ.

Drawing showing the tomb of Jesus according to the data of the gospels. From Parrot, Land of Christ, 131.

We share the sentiment of the late F. F. Bruce that “interesting as the problem must be to every Christian, it is not of the first importance; wherever our Lord’s sepulchre is to be located, ‘he is not here, for he has risen’” (“Archaeological Confirmation of the New Testament,” Revelation and the Bible, ed. Henry, 330).

Model of the tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. From the Franciscian Museum, Jerusalem.

This model from the Franciscan Museum, Jerusalem, show the tomb at the Holy Sepulchre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ferrell’s Favorite Fotos #6

The Greek island of Patmos is mentioned only once in the New Testament.

I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 1:9 ESV)

The island of Patmos. FerrellJenkins.blog.

A view of the island of Patmos from Chora. Ships and other boats dock at the port of Scala. John the Apostle was exiled to this island in the last decade of the first century A.D. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

For more information about Patmos and John’s banishment to the island see here.

Was Philip martyred at Hierapolis/Pamukkale?

A recent article by an Italian journalist Giuseppe Mancini in al-Monitor caught my attention earlier this week. He says,

Hierapolis is the most popular archaelogical site in Turkey, with its peak of 2 million tourists in 2014 and a comparable number anticipated for 2018. In fact, most of them — largely Russians on day trips from Antalya — see only the natural features of the place: the white cascades of travertine created by thermal waters flowing downhill. The venue is better known in Turkish as Pamukkale, literally the “cotton castle,” whose light blue natural pools are featured in every tourism brochure.

Mancini discusses the archaeological work done by Italian scholars. In 2011 they were convinced that they had located the tomb of Philip the Apostle (Matthew 10:3). He laments that most of the tourists visit only a limited area of Pamukkale.

Few tourists walk the paved roads among the ruins or sit in the well-preserved theater. Fewer still are adventurous enough to climb the steep hill overlooking Pamukkale and Hierapolis — guides apparently advise against going there — where the Christian St. Philip the Apostle was killed, buried and venerated for many centuries.

I have observed the same thing and understand the reasons. (1) The tomb of Philip is an archaeological site. (2) It is a relatively long distance from the cascades, pools, and shops. (3) Tour groups are limited in time and (4) the greater number of tour members would not take time to visit a site like this. Let me show you.

You will be able to see the buildings dedicated to Philip right of the center of the photo on the top of the hill. First you get to walk on ruins of an ancient road.

After walking a rather long distance to the approach to the Martyrium of Philip, we come to this road. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After walking a rather long distance to the approach to the Martyrium of Philip, we pass through the Byzantine walls of Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

But that is not all. Next you must climb these steps to a plateau near the tomb and complex of buildings.

Tradition associates this with Philip the Apostle, but some scholars think the reference is to Philip the Evangelist. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tradition associates these steps with the Martyrium of Philip the Apostle. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When you think you have almost arrived, you see steep steps that must be climbed to the plateau where the Martyrium is located.

The final steps leading to the Martyrium of Philip. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The final steps leading to the Martyrium of Philip. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Then you come to the ruins of the church where pilgrims came to honor Philip.

The tomb of Philip is said to have been in this building. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Pilgrims came to this building to honor Philip. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is another building of significance at the site. It is an octagonal building said to have been where Philip was martyred. Only the strongest portions of the building stand.

The Martyrium of Philip was built in the early 5th century A.D. on the site thought to be where Philip was martyred. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Martyrium of Philip was constructed in the early 5th century A.D. on the site thought to be where Philip was martyred. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fant and Reddish say,

The martyrium was apparently used neither as a church (no altar has been found) nor as a burial site (no tomb has been found) but rather served as a place for processions and special services in honor of the saint. (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, p. 215).

According to Fatih Cimok these building were destroyed by fire in the 6th century and never rebuilt (Biblical Anatolia, p 160).

A number of crosses are found at the site engraved on various stones. Cimok says,

Inscriptions speak of “the people of the Jews,” “the settlement of the Jews who dwell in Hierapolis,” and “The archives of the Jews.” (Ibid.)

Crosses on column bases in the Martyrium of Philip at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Crosses on column bases in the Martyrium of Philip at Hierapolis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is much more to see at Hierapolis, including a small but nice museum. Perhaps at a later time I will show you the Hellenistic Theater, the street and arch dedicated to Emperor Domitian, and some of the elaborate tombs. In fact, some have been discussed before. You may locate the posts by typing Hierapolis or Pamukkale in the Search Box.

Resources: In addition to sources cited here, I cited Mark Wilson’s Biblical Turkey in the previous post. These are wonderful resources to use in preparation for a trip to Turkey.

Visit Hierapolis at modern Pamukkale, Turkey

The city of Hierapolis (“holy city”) is one of the three cities of the Lycus River valley named in the New Testament.

For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:13 ESV).

Today Hierapolis is known as Pamukkale, Turkey. The name Pamukkale means “cotton castle” or “cotton fortress,” a name derived from the limestone formation at the site. Mellink describes the formation. He says the city,

… is famous for its continuing geological transformation. Hot mineral springs issue from the rock in the city, and the waters streaming down the cliffs have deposited limestone in large formations, the surface of which is made a gleaming white ‘frozen cascades’ (IDB II:601).

A view of the travertine formation that has formed as a result of the warm water running over the hillside. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A view of the limestone cascade that has formed as a result of the warm water running over the hillside. The spring water at the source is a constant 30º celsus (95º for the rest of us). Click the photo for a larger image. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hierapolis was the home of Papias (c. A.D. 60 to c. A.D. 130), a disciple of the apostle John and a companion of Polycarp. Some traditions associate Philip with the city. All of the information at the site identify this as Philip, one of the apostles of Jesus (Matthew 10:3). Some scholars suggest the association was with Philip the evangelist (Acts 6:5; 8:5; 21:8). Wilson briefly sorts through the confusion and concludes the better evidence indicates the apostle Philip (Biblical Turkey, 245).

In the 5th century A.D. a monument called the Martyrium of Philip was built to remember the disciple of the Lord from Palestine. In the next post we will show some photographs of the ruins of the monument.

Church History Index

This is the beginning of an index on articles pertaining to Church History. I am confident that it is not a complete list, but I trust that it will be helpful to those interested in this subject or in trying to locate photos for use in teaching. If you are looking for something about Roman Catholicism just search for Rome. There are many references to the Byzantine period and structures, etc. Search for various examples.

The Deesis from Hagia Sophia in Istanbul shows Jesus enthroned with Mary and John the Baptist on either side. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Some General Articles
Armenia
The Councils of Nicea
The Reformation
The Restoration Movement
Significant Individuals
Miscellaneous Articles
The Proper MLA Way to Cite this page

“Church History Index.” Ferrell’s Travel Blog, 5 Oct. 2018, ferrelljenkins.blog/2018/10/05/church-history-index/.

Spring beauty in Pergamum

The ancient city of Pergamum, at Bergama, Turkey, was the location of one of the churches addressed in the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse). Like the other six local churches mentioned in the book, a short letter is addressed to Pergamum (Revelation 1:11; 2:12-17). I thought I would share a beautiful spring photo made among the ruins of the city.

Reconstructed temple of Emperor Trajan in Pergamum. FerrellJenkins.blog.

Reconstructed temple of Emperor Trajan in Pergamum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo shows the reconstruction of the Temple of Roman Emperor Trajan (A.D. 98-117). This was the second temple in Pergamum dedicated to the Emperor. The first temple in all of Asia was erected to Augustus in 29 B.C. Altogether Pergamum had three imperial temples. Emperor worship was common throughout the Roman Empire, but especially in the eastern part of the Empire. In the centuries following New Testament times this would create a problem for those who were devoted to Jesus Christ as Lord and God.