Tag Archives: Domitian

The joy of traveling together

It is unfortunate that many younger couples are not able to travel to the lands of the Bible. This is especially true of young preachers who need the knowledge they could gain in their ministry. Some young folks could travel to these places if they wanted to. One fine lady who, along with her husband, had been on a tour to Israel and Greece, told me that she had rebuked (not her word) some of the young professionals she knew. She told them that they ought to give up a few ski trips and go to the Bible lands. A matter of priorities, isn’t it.

I find that many women want to travel, but their husbands refuse to do so. It often happens that the husband dies and the wife gets to travel. Too bad they could not have made these memories together. Elizabeth and I have enjoyed being blessed to travel to many parts of the world. We realize that most of those years are behind us and we have great memories to share. And we have made many wonderful friends in our travels.

The photo below was made at Pamukkale, Turkey (ancient Hierapolis). We are standing on the colonnaded Roman road, and the monumental gateway behind us is the Arch of the Emperor Domitian (A.D. 81-96). It was constructed in A.D. 82-83.

Hierapolis was the home of Papias (c. A.D. 60 to c. A.D. 130). He was a disciples of the apostle John and a companion of Polycarp. There are some traditions associating Philip (apostle?, evangelist?) with the city.

The city of Hierapolis is one of the three cities of the Lycus River valley named in the New Testament.

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).

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.

Domitian, a hated emperor

One coin at a time is Brett Telford’s blog about coins. He has a marvelous photo of a silver Tetradrachm showing the image of Domitian. It was struck in Tarsus about A.D. 93-95. Please take a look.

Telford says,

The portrait reveals an emperor weary from insecurity and suspicion of conspiracy in the later years of his reign. His gaze bears witness to the demons that incited his paranoia. Domitian’s reign of terror began at around AD 93 and lasted until his death in AD 96… about the same time that this coin was struck.

After an interesting discussion of Ethelbert Stauffer’s theory that the titles of Domitian equal 666, Telford comments on the coincidence that this coin was minted at Tarsus, home of the apostle Paul.

This coin isn’t without its own Biblical reference. Tarsus, the city in which this coin was minted, was the birthplace of the Apostle Paul. Isn’t it ironic then, that a coin of the purported Biblical “Beast” was struck in the very city that brought us the most notable of early Christian missionaries.

Previously I have called attention to my books on Revelation. I failed to mention another brief publication about Domitian. Several years back Arthur M. Ogden and I wrote a series of exchanges. This publication, Did Domitian Persecute Christian? is available free in PDF at BibleWorld.

I have seen various inscriptions on which the name of Domitian has been scratched off. It means that he was a person of damnable memory. Recently on our trip to Jerash in Jordan we saw two inscription discovered when the theater was being restored. Here is a photo of one of them.

The inscription, which dates to the year A.D. 90/91, bears the title of the Emperor Domitian, but his name has been erased. The emperor is said to be the son of “divine (theou) Vespasian.” At the moment I can’t put my hands on it, but I recall that a translation of both inscriptions is included in the Newsletter of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Oct., 1974. Inscriptions like this definitely need to be in a controlled environment rather than outside in the weather.

On our upcoming Steps of Paul and John tour the name of Domitian will be used often.

HT: Georg S. Adamsen, Revelation Resources.