Tag Archives: Armenian

The Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem

Though I have been in Jerusalem’s Old City many times, I have visited the Armenian Quarter only a few times. The Armenian Quarter is the southwest corner of the walled city. Entrance is easy from Jaffa Gate on the north, or from Zion Gate on the south.

The name Armenia comes from the people who lived in the eastern portion of what we now know as Turkey. Old maps showing this name are easily accessible on the Internet. The area is sometimes referred to as Turkish Armenia or Western Armenia. According to many records there was a genocide of the Armenians in 1915 during the time of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Popes and Presidents have cried out about the near-elimination of Armenians in the area.

This brings us back to the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. From Jaffa Gate one walks along Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate street. The other streets bear the names of St. James, St. Mark and Ararat. In 2013 I happened to be walking in the Armenian Quarter on April 24. This homemade sign caught my attention.

Sign calling attention to the Armenian Genocide. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sign calling attention to the Armenian Genocide. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Have traveled in Eastern Turkey and seen the ruined Armenian churches I understood what this meant. Some residences (or businesses) displayed photos of events from the episode of 1915.

Photo of the "genocide" above an entry. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Photo of the “genocide” above an entry. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Yesterday’s The Times of Israel carried a lengthy article titled, “Urging recognition, Jerusalem Armenians mark 100th anniversary of genocide.” The subhead reads, “Thousands marching on April 23-24 to commemorate massacre of 1.5 million, the ‘wound that all the time is dripping blood.'” The pictures are vivid. See the complete article here.

A Restoration Movement Connection

Earl Irvin West, in the 3rd volume of The Search for the Ancient Order covers the period of the Restoration Movement from 1900 to 1918. West includes a few pages dealing with the preaching efforts of Churches of Christ in Armenia (pp. 357-362). One account begins in 1889 when a young man named Azariah Paul was supported by some churches in Nashville to preach in Armenia. Paul died from a sickness, but his brother Asadoor Paul continued the work.

When World War I began, Paul wrote that he would likely be pressed into military service. He dropped out of sight and by the time of America’s entry into the war in April 1917, it was generally assumed he had been killed.

West describes the persecution that came to the Christians from the Khurds, Turks, and Persians. Alexander Yohannan wrote to his American supporters on December 5, 1914,

…that all Syrian church buildings had been burned by them, that some people had been burned in ovens, that more than a thousand people had been killed in the vicinity of Charbosh, Persia.

West says,

“Black Sunday” was December 21, 1914, when Christian people moved into American mission enclosures as their houses and property were looted and burned by Moslem soldiers.

A related post about the region of Armenia is available here.

More stories about the Armenian Quarter later…

Bethlehem and Shrines

Shrines. Throughout the lands where Bible events transpired church buildings have been erected over this or that “sacred spot.” These buildings, whether in Jerusalem, Nazareth or Bethlehem are little more than show places. Tourists stream through them at a steady rate observing the ancient ornamentation.

In Bethlehem the traditional place where Jesus was born, now covered by the Basilica of the Nativity, would hardly remind one of anything he reads in the New Testament. The visitor now finds a building which reveals “a succession of slow decay and hasty repairs” The Middle East, 1966 ed., 622). In this building he sees mosaics with gold backgrounds dating from the 12th century, and art of the middle ages. The ruins of the large buildings erected by Justinian in the 6th century simply serve to cover the 4th century building by Constantine. The student of church history never forgets that all of this was the activity of an apostate church and does not reflect New Testament Christianity.

Their value. The shrines do serve a useful purpose. We have no record to indicate that the earliest Christians built any shrines at the sites associated with the ministry of Jesus. One can imagine, however, that fathers would tell their sons and that residents would tell visitors where certain events happened. If this information was faithfully transmitted from the first to the fourth century when the first shrines were erected, then the shrine has kept alive the memory till now.

The shrines have preserved sites, which if left in the open would have eroded or been damaged or built over so that the memory would be lost.

This photo shows the interior of the Greek Orthodox Church that is said to be built over the birthplace of Jesus.

Interior of the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Interior of the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Our study about Bethlehem brings to our mind the reality of the earthly ministry of Jesus. In Bethlehem we see the expression of the love of God who sent His own son to the earth.

The next photo shows the Armenian chapel in the Church of the Nativity. It stands between the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches.

Armentian altar in the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Armenian altar in the Church of the Nativity. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.