Tag Archives: Cyprus

In search of Barnabas

A recent article (here) in the York [Pennsylvania] Daily Record features the research of Messiah College professor Dr. Michael Cosby. Cosby received a Fulbright Grant to do this research in Cyprus, a place associated with the life of Barnabas.

Barnabas is best known to most of us because of his association with the Apostle Paul on the first missionary journey. He is mentioned more than 20 times in the Book of Acts. Other than that, he is mentioned 3 times in Galatians 2, and once each in 1 Corinthians and Colossians.

We understand from Luke’s account that Barnabas, also known as Joseph, was a Levite of Cyprus (Acts 4:36). The first stop on the First Journey was at Salamis on the eastern end of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus (Acts 13:1-5). There the preachers spoke in the synagogue of the Jews, and later on the western end of the island at Paphos.

When Paul and Barnabas had a dispute prior to the Second Journey, Barnabas took his cousin Mark and went to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).

Nothing else is mentioned in the Bible about Barnabas and the island of Cyprus. But a great amount of tradition has grown up on the island. It is this tradition that Prof. Cosby studied, and he researched the association of the tradition to the modern Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus, and the privileges granted to the Cypriot archbishops.

Having just visited Cyprus last year I find this a fascinating article. Perhaps you will enjoy it.

According to a tradition dating back to 488 A.D., the sepulcher of Barnabas was discovered by Anthemios, the Archbishop of Constantia and placed in a church he built near the tomb. The photo below shows the now-empty church near the ruins of Roman Salamis.

The Church of Barnabas at Salamis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Church of Barnabas at Salamis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Salamis is now located in the the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or as the folks in the south of Cyprus say, “the occupied territory.”

New discoveries at Paphos, Cyprus

The Cyprus Mail reports the results of archaeological work in the agora at ancient Paphos, Cyprus, by the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.

One of the significant discoveries during the August/September excavations was a small tablet with the name of an official on it in the Greek language. According to the article, the Greek inscription reads,

Seleukos, son of Agoranomos (market administrator) Ioulios Bathylos.

Architectural remains from the Roman period were also uncovered in the same area as the Greek inscription.

The short article maybe read here.

The photo below shows a few fallen columns in the mostly unexcavated agora in mid-May, 2012.

Ancient agora at Paphos, Cyprus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Ancient agora at Paphos, Cyprus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark arrived at Paphos after crossing the length of the island of Cyprus on the first missionary journey. It was here that Saul’s name was changed to Paul.

 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus.
7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God.
8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him
10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord?
11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand.
12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. (Acts 13:6-12 ESV)

HT: Jack Sasson

Acts 13 — Photo Illustrations

How long would it take to provide photo illustrations for Acts 13? Here are some of the places and persons we might consider.

  • Syrian Antioch
  • Seleucia
  • Cyprus
  • Salamis, Cyprus
  • Paphos, Cyprus
  • Barnabas
  • Sergius Paulus
  • Perga in Pamphylia
  • Pisidian Antioch
  • Iconium

Not to mention the historical references in Paul’s sermon in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch. (You can find posts about most, if not all, of the above list by using the Search box.)

For today, I have chosen to call attention to Barnabas and his association with Cyprus. The first stop made by Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark on Cyprus was at the eastern port of Salamis. A few miles west of the harbor and ancient city we now have the Monastery and Church of St. Barnabas. Salamis, and this building, are now located in the Turkish Republic of Norther Cyprus. The folks in the south, the Republic of Cyprus, speak of the north as occupied territory. (I leave the politics of the issue for others.) The monastery and church, erected in A.D. 477, now houses an icon museum and a small archaeological museum.

Tradition has it that Barnabas was martyred by Jews on Cyprus, but we have no evidence to back up this assertion.

Church of St. Barnabas at Salamis, Cyprus.

Late 5th century church of St. Barnabas at Salamis, Cyprus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Acts 4:36 informs us that Joseph was also called Barnabas by the apostles. The name Barnabas means Son of Encouragement or Exhortation. He must have been an eloquent speaker, especially good at exhorting and encouraging others. He was generous with his property, a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith (Acts 11:24).

Barnabas was of the tribe of Levi and a native of the island of Cyprus. He later introduced Saul of Tarsus (Paul) to the brethren in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-27) and preached in Antioch (Acts 11:22-30). Barnabas, and his cousin John Mark (Colossians 4:10), joined Saul for the first preaching journey (Acts 13-14).

After a sharp disagreement between Barnabas and Paul, Barnabas took Mark with him to Cyprus (Acts 15:39). One wonders if Mark also was a native of Cyprus.

Docking again at Perga

A few days ago we had some discussion here about whether Paul and his companions docked at Atttalia or Perga after sailing from Paphos, Cyprus.

Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem,  but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. (Act 13:13-14a ESV)

Darryl said that he had been unable to track down the oft-cited reference in Strabo Geography. I located the quotation using Logos 4. The modern names are included in brackets.

[2] Next is the river Cestrus [Ak-su]; on sailing up its stream 60 stadia we find the city Perge, [Murtana] and near it upon an elevated place, the temple of the Pergæan Artemis, where a general festival is celebrated every year.

Nymphaeums (fountains) were important in Roman cities. The fountain at Perga flowed into a channel running the length of the main street.

The Nymphaeum (Fountain) at Perga. Water flowed from the fountain. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Nymphaeum (Fountain) at Perga. Water flowed from the fountain into a channel in the middle of the main street. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This close-up view shows the river god Cestrus. Water flowed under the image into the channel. Other cities had a similar image with the water flowing from a cornucopia held by the river god. At Ephesus it was the god Cayster.

The Nymphaeum (Fountain) at Perga, showing the river god Cestrus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Nymphaeum at Perga, showing the river god Cestrus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Dr. Combs recommended the article by Douglas A. Campbell (“Paul in Pamphylia (Acts 13.13-14a; 14.24b-26): A Critical Note”) in New Testament Studies (2000): 595-602. This afternoon I was able to get access to the article. The map is especially helpful.

Campbell says the 175 mile trip from Paphos to Perga, with favorable winds, would have taken between 25 and 50 hours, but with difficult winds it could have taken longer. It would be more common for ships transporting goods from Cyprus to Perga and other cities in the region to have used the River Cestrus. On the return from the first journey, when Paul was headed east back to (Seleucia, then) Antioch (Acts 14:25-26), it would have been best to use Attalia as the port (as Tim Brinley also pointed out in his comment).

Some other sources explaining that Perga used the river Cestrus as a port include the following:

  • E. A. Judge. Perga. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (3:767-768).
  • E. M. Blaiklock. Perga. New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.): 901.
  • A. E. Hillard. Perga. (Hastings) Dictionary of the Bible: 700.

An inland city of Pamphylia about 12 miles from Attalia on the coast, but possessing a river harbour of its own on the Cestrus 5 miles away. Its walls date from the 3rd century B.C.

From Perga Paul would have taken the Via Sebaste to Pisidian Antioch. When he returned to Perga, using the same Roman road, he would have taken the Claudian extension of the Via Sebaste which ran southwest for 12 miles to Attalia.

Campbell, a British scholar, says,

In my judgement the author of Acts at these two junctures is, quite simply, spot on.

Salamis was the first stop for Barnabas and Saul

Barnabas and Saul were sent out by the Holy Spirit from Antioch. Their first stop after leaving the port of Seleucia was Salamis on the eastern coast of Cyprus. Here is Luke’s account.

When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. (Act 13:5 ESV)

It is interesting to note that there are no accounts of conversions at Salamis. The city had a large Jewish population during the Roman period.

Why go to Cyprus? These facts might provide some suggestions.

  • Well, it was east of Antioch, and a first step toward going to the Gentiles.
  • It was also the home of Barnabas (Acts 4:36).
  • After the stoning of Stephen some had traveled to Cyprus preaching to the Jews (Acts 11:19).
  • Some men of Cyprus had come to Antioch preaching to the Hellenists (Greeks) (Acts 11:20).

Salamis is now located in the the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or as the folks in the south say, “the occupied territory.” This photo shows some of the foundation stones of the harbor where Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark landed. Breakwaters extend for some distance into the sea.

Ferrell Jenkins at the ancient port of Salamis.

Ferrell Jenkins at the ancient port of Salamis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

We visited the gymnasium. Not to workout. Our workout came from walking over the large site. This gym was build in the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus.

Salamis Roman gymnasium built in the time of Roman Emperor Augustus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Salamis Roman gymnasium built in the time of Roman Emperor Augustus. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When I see one of these gymnasiums or palestras (exercise areas) I am reminded of what Paul wrote to Timothy:

for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:8 ESV)

A short distance from Salamis is the Church of St. Barnabas. The church is now a museum of icons. Many traditions have grown up in Cyprus about Barnabas.

In the afternoon we returned to Nicosia and made a stop at the Cyprus (Archaeology) Museum. They have a nice collection of artifacts, including some of the statues from Salamis, but photos are not allowed. Museum’s often do not allow photographs in hope of selling more books in the gift shop. Allowing photos provides an opportunity for teachers and others to talk about their visit with others. It actually encourages others to visit the museum. Too bad they don’t agree with me.

This photo is a collection of statues from Cyprus in the Louvre.

Cyprus collection from the fifth century B.C. in the Louvre. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cyprus collection from the fifth century B.C. displayed in the Louvre, Paris. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

It was a good day.

Saul came to be known as Paul at Paphos, Cyprus

On the first missionary journey, Barnabas, Saul, and John Mark, traveled through Cyprus from Salamis to Paphos on the southwestern coast of Cyprus. The following events involving these men took place there (Acts 13:6-13)

  • They found a Jewish magician, a false prophet, named Bar-Jesus, meaning Elymas. He tried to turn Sergius Paulus away from listening to Saul and Barnabas.
  • Paul resisted the efforts of Elymas to turn aside Sergius Paulus from the faith. Elymas was blinded.
  • Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man who served as proconsul, believed the Word.
  • Saul also came to be known as Paul. This is the name he would use throughout his ministry to the Gentiles.
  • From this time on, Paul became the lead man in the work that was being done.
  • Paul and his companions set sail for Perga in Pamphylia.

Tuesday afternoon and evening, and Wednesday morning, I visited Paphos. The harbor used by Paul and Barnabas is today a harbor used for pleasure boats and fishing boats. Tuesday afternoon the town was filled with tourists. I though a lot about the events we have listed above.

The harbor at Paphos. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The harbor at Paphos. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The archaeological park is large, but only a small portion of it has been excavated by archaeologists.

The most impressive items at the site are the numerous houses with elaborate mosaics. These houses began to be built in the 2nd century A.D. and continued in use until the 7th century.

Paphos was an important city during the Hellenistic period., and into the Roman period. The few structures dating to the time of Paul (or earlier) include the Asklepion, the odeion, and the Roman agora which still needs to be excavated.

The photo below shows the odeion. The lighthouse of Paphos in the background is of recent origin, but is built upon Roman foundations.

The Odeion at Paphos. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Odeion at Paphos. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

My friend, Leon, was able to join me by this afternoon. Tonight we are in Nicosia, Cyprus.

Fox News slideshow of recent archaeology

The slide show Digging Up History: The Latest Archaeology News at Fox News includes a several photos of discoveries of interest — including some we have mentioned in previous posts.

  • The Alley of Sphinxes at Luxor, Egypt, from the 12th century B.C. Work had just begun on this street connecting Karnak Temple with Luxor Temple when we visited in January, 2008.
  • Tombs of the Pyramid builders.
  • Ptolemaic temple of Bastet in Alexandria.
  • Restoration of the Monastery of St. Antony near Suez City, Egypt.
  • Stolen artifacts seized by police in Limassol, Cyprus. The report says the deal is estimated to be worth $15.5 million.

See the full show here.

Court of Rameses II in the Luxor Temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Court of Rameses II in the Luxor Temple. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

HT: Brooks C.