Troas of Biblical Asia Minor

May 12, 2015

In our previous post we referenced Acts 16:11, “So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis.” It was at Troas that Paul saw in a vision a man from Macedonia pleading and urging him to “come over and help us” (16:9). This was on the 2nd Missionary Journey. Today biblical Troas is in western Turkey.

Fant and Reddish have this to say about Troas:

Called Alexandria Troas to distinguish it from other cities named Alexandria, the city is often referred to simply as Troas. (“The Troad” is the name used for the area around the ancient city of Troy.) What was once a large and important city on the western coast of Asia Minor has today been reduced to a few ruins overgrown by trees and shrubs, receiving only a cursory visit from a small number of sightseers. (A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey)

Troas Sign. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Troas Sign. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

While they are correct regarding Troas’ history, Fant and Reddish are not exactly current as to “a few ruins.” When we had opportunity to visit Troas (Mar. 29, 2015), there was cloud cover and not the best lighting, but you can still see some of the recent excavations there.

Troas Excavations. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Troas Excavations. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

When Ferrell Jenkins and I were there in 2006 the Roman road which led down to the harbor was just then being uncovered. More has been excavated since then. It is thought that this is the road that Paul would have walked on to make use of the harbor down below.

Roman Road at Troas. Led down to the harbor below. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Roman Road at Troas. Led down to the harbor below. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Several fragments of Roman columns and other remains have been discovered.

Some of the remains discovered at Troas. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Some of the remains discovered at Troas. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

I love to travel in Turkey. While Fant and Reddish may be right about the “small number of sightseers” who visit here, I will assure you that it is a worthwhile stop for any who wish to enhance their understanding of Bible history and geography!

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Neapolis, Greece, Port City to Philippi

May 9, 2015

During the 2nd Missionary Journey, a milestone was reached when Paul left Troas (of Asia Minor) to sail across the Aegean to preach on European soil. The text reads, “So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis” (Acts 16:11).

We had the occasion recently to visit Neapolis, modern Kavala. Neapolis was colonized by the Athenians in the 5th Century BC.  It was taken by Philip of Macedon in the 4th century BC. Neapolis served as the port to Philippi, where Paul first preached on European soil, and it continues to serve as an important port today.

One impressive site is the aqueduct of  Suleiman the Magnificent, AD 16th century built. This landmark was built on the remains of the previous Roman aqueduct.

Aqueduct of Suleiman the Magnificent at Neapolis.

Aqueduct of Suleiman the Magnificent at Neapolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Here is a view of the harbor of Neapolis/Kavala. It is thrilling to know that Paul used this port city in his travels.

Neapolis Harbor. The site mentioned in Paul's travels in Acts 16:11. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Neapolis Harbor. The site mentioned in Paul’s travels in Acts 16:11. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

A portion of the acropolis may be seen in background at left.

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The Cult of the Mother Goddess Cybele

May 4, 2015

In pagan mythology, Cybele was a nature goddess in Asia Minor, the great “mother of the gods,” the patroness of nature and fertility, and came to the western world from Phrygia. In the Ephesus Museum there is a display devoted to the cult.

Cult of Cybele. Ephesus Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Cult of Cybele. Ephesus Museum. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

On our recent trip to Greece at Delphi we saw the remains of a site devoted to the worship of Cybele.

Temple of Cybele at center.  In behind you can see ruins of temple of Apollo. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

Temple of Cybele at center. Ruins of temple of Apollo in behind. Photo ©Leon Mauldin.

At first this cult was not very popular in Rome, since it was accompanied by ecstatic excesses. By the beginning of the imperial era, however, its influence increased, especially when the emperor Claudius extended his patronage to it. From that time Roman citizens could become priests of Cybele. (The New Testament Milieu).

The worship of Artemis and Cybele in the process of time morphed into one.

Two remarkable aspects of Hellenistic religion are syncretism and the role of the mystery religions. When, as a result of Alexander the Great’s conquests, the city-state disappeared from Greece and the national borders were blurred, the frontiers between the domains of the various deities were also effaced. In Alexander’s world empire and in the large Hellenistic kingdoms of his successors, an enormous cultural and religious commingling gradually occurred. People came to know one another’s gods and accepted them as their own, because they no longer regarded them as alien forces. They were simply worshipped under other names and with different rites in the various countries. So the Greek goddess Artemis and Cybele of Asia Minor were equated: they were no longer regarded as two different goddesses, but as one and the same divinity with various names. (ibid.)

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