Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle

October 18, 2017

Today concludes our Emerald Tour of Ireland, and was a day of “free time” for our group. Some of us included a visit to the Dublin Castle, because here the Chester Beatty Library is located. Among the interesting collections there are some of the very earliest New Testament texts, dating to c.AD 200.

Johnny Felker & Leon Mauldin at Chester Beatty Library. Photo by Martha Felker.

Photos are not permitted inside the exhibition.

Some info re: the New Testament manuscripts:

There are three New Testament manuscripts that are part of the Chester Beatty Papyri. The first, P. I, is labeled under the Gregory-Aland numbering system as P45 and was originally a codex of 110 leaves that contained the four canonical gospels and Acts. 30 fragmentary leaves remain, consisting of two small leaves of the Gospel of Matthew chapters 20/21 and 25/26, portions of the Gospel of Mark chapters 4-9, 11-12, portions of the Gospel of Luke 6-7, 9-14, portions of the Gospel of John 4-5, 10-11, and portion of the Acts of the Apostles 4-17. The ordering of the gospels follows the Western tradition, Matthew, John, Luke, Mark, Acts. These fragments are palaeographically dated to the first half of the 3rd century.

P46 is the second New Testament manuscript in the Chester Beatty collection (P. II), and was a codex that contained the Pauline Epistles dating c. 200.[citation needed] What remains today of the manuscript is roughly 85 out of 104 leaves consisting of Romans chapters 5-6, 8-15, all of Hebrews, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, virtually all of 1–2 Corinthians and 1 Thessalonians 1-2, 5. The leaves have partially deteriorated, resulting in the loss of some lines at the bottom of each folio. The manuscript split up between the Chester Beatty Library and the University of Michigan. Scholars do not believe the Pastoral epistles were included originally in the codex, based on the amount of space required in the missing leaves; they conclude 2 Thessalonians would have occupied the final portion of the codex. The inclusion of Hebrews, a book that was questioned canonically and not considered authored by Paul, is notable. The placement of it following Romans is unique against most other witnesses, as is the ordering of Galatians following Ephesians.

P. III is the last New Testament manuscript, P47, and contains 10 leaves from the Book of Revelation, chapters 9-17. This manuscript also dates to the 3rd century, and Kenyon describes the handwriting as being rough (Wikipedia).

It’s been a great tour.

From the Chester Beatty Library Brochure.

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Touring Ireland: W.B. Yeats Grave at Drumcliffe Graveyard

October 16, 2017

Irish poet W. B. Yeats chose the churchyard at Drumcliffe in County Sligo as his final resting place, located at the foot of Benbulben mountain. Yeats died in France but he wished to be buried at this location.

Grave of poet W. B. Yeats, Drumcliffe Graveyard, near Sligo, Ireland. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Under bare Ben Bulben’s head In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid. An ancestor was rector there Long years ago, a church stands near, By the road an ancient cross. No marble, no conventional phrase; On limestone quarried near the spot By his command these words are cut: Cast a cold eye On life, on death. Horseman, pass by! (W. B. Yeats, “Under Ben Bulben”)

St Columba’s Church of Ireland in Drumcliff. Built in 1809. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Thanks for following our Emerald Ireland Tour. Tomorrow we are to make our way on to Dublin.

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Killary Fjord in North Connemara, Ireland

October 14, 2017

Today we visited the Connemara loop, which included the Killary Fjord among several other interesting sites. Here we were able to view from a distance the Killary Fjord Shellfish operation, where they farm blue-shell mussels on longlines submerged 8 meters under water. The Blue mussel (Mytulis edulis), is a species native to Irish waters, and is one of the main species cultivated by the Irish aquaculture Industry.

Killary Fjord, Ireland. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Killary Harbour/An Caoláire Rua is a fjord located in the west of Ireland in the heart of Connemara which forms a natural border between counties Galway and Mayo. It is 16 kilometres long and in the centre over 45 metres deep. It is one of three glacial fjords that exist in Ireland, the others being Lough Swilly and Carlingford Lough.
On its northern shore lies the mountain of Mweelrea, Connacht’s highest mountain, rising to 814 metres. To the south rise the Maumturk Mountains and the Twelve Bens. The area contains some of Ireland’s most awe-inspiring and dramatic scenery. (Wikipedia)

Killary Fjord. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Thanks for following our travels in Ireland. Click images for larger view.


Touring Ireland (cont’d) Galway Cathedral; Remembering J. F. Kennedy

October 13, 2017

Continuing our tour of Ireland today we saw thatched roof houses at Adare, then the scenic “Cliffs of Moher,” and then on to Galway, concluding with a brief stop at the Galway Cathedral.

I found it interesting that inside the cathedral in the Mortuary Chapel there was a mosaic of President John F. Kennedy (by Patrick Pollen).

Mosaic of President John F. Kennedy, Galway Cathedral, Galway, Ireland. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

President John F. Kennedy visited Ireland June 26-29, 1963, five months before his assassination. That visit included Galway (June 29, 1963), where we are tonight. Every indication is that his visit was well received by the Irish people. There is an amazing amount of video documentation (YouTube) of his 4 day visit to Ireland, including here (Galway).

Galway Cathedral, Galway, Ireland. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

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Touring in Ireland

October 12, 2017

Today was Day 3 of our Ireland Tour which has taken us from Dublin to Glendalough, Waterford, Blarney, and now Killarney, where we today have taken the 109 mile Ring of Kerry, encircling the Iveragh peninsula. Today we began with a brief stop at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Killarney.

St. Mary’s Cathedral at Killarney, Ireland.

 

Killarney is home to St Mary’s, a beautiful Gothic-style building that serves as the cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Kerry. Previously, St Brendan’s at Ardfert was the diocese’s cathedral.

English architect Augustus Pugin, who worked on the iconic Palace of Westminster, designed St Mary’s with a rugged exterior and smooth, light-filled interior.

The cathedral was consecrated in 1855 and renovated in the 1970s. (https://www.discoverireland.ie/Arts-Culture-Heritage/st-mary-s-catholic-church-killarney/50303)


Treasury of the Athenians at Delphi . . . More Background for Esther

September 20, 2017

The restored treasury of the Athenians at Delphi:

The Athenian Treasury was a votive building in the form of a reduced scale temple, designed to hold the multitude of Athenian offerings to the Delphi oracle. The building was constructed entirely of Parian marble and had a Doric frieze decorated with 30 metopes. It is a distyle in antis building with a porch before the entrance to the cella, measuring 10 x 6 meters.

The metopes depicted mythological themes of Theseus, Heracles, and Amazons in high relief. It is believed that two Athenian sculptors carved the metopes, each representing a distinct style or generation: one from the Archaic period, and one from the Severe style of classical art (the transition from Archaic to High Classical art). The walls of the treasury were inscribed with various texts, among which are the hymns to Apollo which included melody notation (see below).

Several dates for its construction have been suggested (with Pausanias mentioning that it was built after the battle of Marathon), but it is widely accepted that its was created sometime between 510 and 480 BCE, a period framed by the founding of the Athenian democracy and the defining battle of Marathon. (http://ancient-greece.org/museum/muse-delphi-athenians.html)

Delphi of course is “home of the famous oracle of Delphi, known as the Pythia, and the Temple of Apollo, where the oracle presided” (Fant, Clyde E.; Reddish, Mitchell G.. A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey, Kindle Locations 1180-1181).

Our photo here shows the treasury at left center:

Treasury of the Athenians at Delphi. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Regarding the famous battle of Marathon, 490 BC, where the greatly outnumbered Greeks repelled and defeated the Persians, EyeWitnessHistory.com has the following info:

The battle of Marathon is one of history’s most famous military engagements. It is also one of the earliest recorded battles. Their victory over the Persian invaders gave the fledgling Greek city states confidence in their ability to defend themselves and belief in their continued existence. The battle is therefore considered a defining moment in the development of European culture.

In September of 490 BC a Persian armada of 600 ships disgorged an invasion force of approximately 20,000 infantry and cavalry on Greek soil just north of Athens. Their mission was to crush the Greek states in retaliation for their support of their Ionian cousins who had revolted against Persian rule.

Undaunted by the numerical superiority of the invaders, Athens mobilized 10,000 hoplite warriors to defend their territory. The two armies met on the Plain of Marathon twenty-six miles north of Athens. The flat battlefield surrounded by hills and sea was ideal for the Persian cavalry. Surveying the advantage that the terrain and size of their force gave to the Persians, the Greek generals hesitated.

One of the Greek generals – Miltiades – made a passionate plea for boldness and convinced his fellow generals to attack the Persians. Miltiades ordered the Greek hoplites to form a line equal in length to that of the Persians. Then – in an act that his enemy believed to be complete madness – he ordered his Greek warriors to attack the Persian line at a dead run. In the ensuing melee, the middle of the Greek line weakened and gave way, but the flanks were able to engulf and slaughter the trapped Persians. An estimated 6,400 Persians were slaughtered while only 192 Greeks were killed.

The remaining Persians escaped on their ships and made an attempt to attack what they thought was an undefended Athens. However, the Greek warriors made a forced march back to Athens and arrived in time to thwart the Persians. (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/pfmarathon.htm)

In our title I suggested that these events give further background to the biblical book of Esther. In our post here we showed how in 480 BC, ten years after the Battle of Marathon, the Persian King Xerxes was building his forces to again attempt to subjugate Greece. The fact that Persia was still “smarting” after her humiliating defeat by Greece helps us to see the purpose and even urgency behind those opening verses of Esther (1:1-9), where Xerxes is meeting with officials from his 127 provinces, which ranged from India to Ethiopia.

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Xerxes at Troy–Some Background for Esther

September 19, 2017

The events narrated in Esther take place during the reign of the Persian King Xerxes. “The Hebrew word used throughout the book is ʾaḥašwērôš (“Ahasuerus”) which is considered a variant of Xerxes’ name. Xerxes is the Greek form of the Persian Khshayârsha” (Huey, F. B., Jr., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 797).

The book of Esther begins by telling of a great banquet in Susa, the capital,  in the 3rd year of his reign (483 BC): “in the third year of his reign he gave a banquet for all his princes and attendants, the army officers of Persia and Media, the nobles and the princes of his provinces being in his presence” (Esther 1:3). The biblical author’s intent was not to give the details as to the why of this banquet, but historical sources are helpful. Xerxes was on a mission to gather strength and support for his invasion [ill-fated] into Greece. This is the setting for the opening verses of Esther.

In the year 480 BC Xerxes marched westward to invade and attempt to conquer Greece. En route he passed through ancient Troy, where the historian Herodotus states, “he sacrificed a thousand heifers to Athene of Ilion” (Herodotus 7:43). Ilion is the Greek name for ancient Troy.

Our photo shows the Troy sanctuary area, Stratum VIII (dated ca. 700-85 BC).

Troy Sanctuary Area. Here Xerxes, King of Persia (r.486-464 BC) offered 1,000 heifers in sacrifice to the goddess Athena, in preparation for his war on Greece. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Xerxes’ invasion of Greece was a failure. It was after his return from his disappointing catastrophe that the Jewish maiden Esther became his queen, in the “seventh year of his reign” (Esther 2:17), which would be 479 BC.

Regarding the site in our photo above, Manfred O. Korfmann writes, “The earliest structures representing a sanctuary at the nearly deserted site are those established by the Aeolian Greeks sometime after 700 BCE, thus apparently existing within the lifetime of Homer! Votive offerings confirm the existence of much earlier sacred precincts as well” (TROİA/WIL̇USA p.62).

Of the city of Troy itself Korfmann continues, “Illion became the religious and political capital of a federation of municipalities, and to the south and east of the acropolis a lower city (on a grid-plan) arose – overtop and partially dug into remains from Trois VI/VII” (ibid.63).

The ancient city Troy consists of 46 occupational levels which date back to a total of nine different cities!

Our map shows Troy, which is a site on the Unesco World Heritage List.

Map of Troy in today’s Turkey, in relation to Greece.

I have previously posted on Troy here and here.

It is good to be reminded that the events of the Bible did not take place in a vacuum. The covenant people of God interacted with the people of their day, sometimes including the world powers as was the case in the Persian period, the setting for Esther.