Greetings From Athens Greece

March 24, 2015

My group arrived safely in Athens this afternoon and all of our luggage arrived as well! We are thankful.Newark seems a bit distant now.

Gathering at Newark International. Photo by Donna Keith.

Gathering at Newark International. Photo by Donna Keith.

Everyone was tired following the overnight flight. A good dinner was welcome!

Dinner at Metropolitan_IMG_0171Donna Keith

Dinner at Metropolitan in Athens. Photo by Donna Keith.

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Roman Emperor Hadrian’s Gate in Athens. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

En route to our hotel we saw the Arch of Hadrian, which was constructed in honor of the emperor following the completion of the temple of Zeus. Hadrian  walked through it the arch  to attend the dedication of the temple in AD 131. The western side of the arch has the inscription, “This is Athens, the city of Theseus.”

Tomorrow is scheduled to be an all day tour of Athens. We plan to post photos from our biblical study trip as time (and internet) permit.


The Meteora and Kalambaka

March 5, 2015

Kalambaka is a municipality in the Trikala regional unit, part of Thessaly in Greece. Today the attraction here is the Meteora monasteries which are located in the town. Meteora means “suspended rocks” (Eye Witness Travel Guide) or “things hovering in the air” (Greece, by Facaros & Theodorou); the word is etymologically related to “Meteorite.”

The Meteora has a massive cluster of natural sandstone towers which were used as early as AD 985 as a religious retreat. At least 24 monasteries were funded here; today there are six major Meteora monasteries (Greek Orthodox).

Monastery of Rousanou at Meteora, Greece. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

Monastery of Rousanou at Meteora, Greece. Photo by Dennis Jarvis.

This group of steep, towering rocks in the center of the Plain of Thessaly is a “unique geological phenomenon”. . .”created by a series of upheavals in the earth’s crust, and the landscape is of unique interest” (Greece: Between Legend and History, p.178).

The town of Kalambaka is situated on the foot of the Meteora peaks.

Kalambaka, Greece. by Mzmona - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KAlambaka.jpg#mediaviewer/File:KAlambaka.jpg

Kalambaka, Greece. by Mzmona. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:KAlambaka.jpg#mediaviewer/File:KAlambaka.jpg

While these are not biblical locations, they are sites of interest as one is in Greece visiting those places mentioned in connection with Paul’s 2nd and 3rd Journeys in Acts.


Delphi, Greece

February 17, 2015

Though Delphi is not a biblical city, this site was of great importance in antiquity. The

Seat of an important oracle and temple of Apollo at least as early as the seventh century, Delphi received pilgrims from all over Greece. She was enriched, too, as numerous city-states sent their votive gifts and erected shrines there. The Pythian Games, in honor of Apollo, were held at Delphi every four years. (Pfeiffer, The Wycliffe Historical Geography of Bible Lands).

This photo shows the theater of Delphi. At bottom center is the temple of Apollo.

Delphi Theater. Photo by Leonidtsvetkov at en.wikipedia

Delphi Theater. Photo by Leonidtsvetkov at en.wikipedia

Fant and Reddish point out,

When it is surrounded by blooming almond trees in the spring, Delphi is surely one of the most beautiful places in the world. The ancient Greeks agreed and described it as the center (literally, the navel, omphalos) of the world.

The Sacred Precinct of Delphi comprises, in addition to the temple of Apollo, an impressive theater, the Bouleuterion (council chamber) of the city, numerous treasuries of Greek cities that held valuable offerings to Apollo, and many monuments and altars. From the entrance, the Sacred Way leads uphill between the bases of monuments that celebrated military victories and more than twenty treasuries that held votive offerings. The Treasury of the Athenians (510 B.C.E.) has been reerected in the form of a Doric temple. The Temple of Apollo itself was originally built in the 7th century B.C.E.; it burned to the ground in 548 B.C.E. and was rebuilt in 531 B.C.E.  

This later temple collapsed from an earthquake in 373 B.C.E. Only the foundations of the third temple (346–320 B.C.E.) remain today.

Here is a photo of the Sanctuary of Athena. This tholos, or rotunda, was build early 4th century BC.

Sanctuary of Athens at Delphi. Photo by By KufoletoAntonio De Lorenzo and Marina Ventayol. Wikipedia.

Sanctuary of Athens at Delphi. Photo by By KufoletoAntonio De Lorenzo and Marina Ventayol. Wikipedia.

One very important artifact in the Delphi Museum is the Gallio inscription. Gallio is the Proconsul of Achaia before whom Paul stood for trial at Corinth as related in Acts 18:12ff. For a photo of this inscription click here.

Click images for larger view.


Seneca the Younger, Gallio’s Brother, Column at Corinth

February 12, 2015

Among the ruins visible today as one visits biblical Corinth, is a portion of a column bearing the name of Seneca.

Column fragment at Corinth bearing Seneca's name (Latin Ceneka). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Column fragment at Corinth with Seneca’s name (Latin CENEKA). Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Seneca is of interest to students of Acts, because he is the brother of the Proconsul Gallio, before whom Paul stood trial at Corinth (Acts 18:12-17). Usually when Paul was brought before rulers for his gospel teaching he was promptly beaten and often imprisoned (2 Cor. 11:23-27). However here at Corinth Gallio could see that Paul was not a law-breaker, and threw the case out.

Wikipedia has this info on Seneca:

Lucius Annaeus Seneca (often known simply as Seneca /ˈsɛnɪkə/; c. 4 BC – AD 65) was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature.

He was a tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero. While he was forced to commit suicide for alleged complicity in the Pisonian conspiracy to assassinate Nero, he may have been innocent. His father was Seneca the Elder, his elder brother was Lucius Junius Gallio Annaeanus, called Gallio in the Bible, and his nephew was the poet Lucan.

The mention of Gallio in the text (Acts 18) is helpful in dating the events at that point in the ministry of Paul.

Gallio was the proconsul [Grk. anthupatos] of the Roman senatorial province of Achaia (Acts 18:12). Proconsuls generally served two-year terms, and such appointments offered potentially great financial rewards. Achaia’s administrative center was Corinth, a newly rebuilt city at the time and a busy commercial and transport center. The city had as many as 200,000 residents, and the province of Achaia may have had several million subjects. . .

An inscription at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi indicates that Gallio’s time in Corinth may be dated to AD 51–53. Thus, Paul’s appearance before Gallio probably occurred in the spring or summer of AD 51. (The Lexham Bible Dictionary).

In an article entitled “Paul, Dating, and Corinth: The Gallio Inscription and Pauline Chronology,” Gardner Gordon wrote:

Gallio’s younger brother, Seneca, was a philosopher, and apparently an inflammatory one. In AD 41, Emperor Claudius exiled this young thinker to the isle of Corsica. Usually, such disgrace tarnished the entire family. Whatever political ambitions Gallio may have had were effectively derailed by his brainy brother’s banishment. But in AD 49, Seneca was ushered back to Rome with a grand purpose: he was placed in the imperial court as the tutor to Claudius’ nephew and royal successor, a young, impetuous Roman named Nero. Undoubtedly, it was at this time that Seneca was instrumental in helping to secure a political post of proconsul for his older brother, Gallio.

That article may be read in its entirety by clicking here.

I have several posts on biblical Corinth, with photos and brief articles. Use search box at upper right.

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View from Roman Forum in Athens Greece

February 10, 2015

Yesterday we had another view down the south side of the acropolis in Athens, Greece. Now we move to the north side, down below the acropolis, to the Roman Forum. In our photo here you can see a portion of the forum, the Tower of the Winds (right), and to your distant left Mount Lykavittos.

Roman Forum, Tower, and Mt. Lykavittos in Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Roman Forum, Tower, and Mt. Lykavittos in Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Tower of the Winds has an interesting history:

The Tower of the Winds stands in the Pláka below the north side of the Acropolis. In the planning of the modern city of Athens in the 19th century. Eólou Street, named after the wind god Ailos, was aligned directly on the tower, which forms a landmark at its southern end.

Built about 40 B.C., the tower is an octagonal structure 12m/40ft high, with sundials on the external walls; it originally housed a water-clock.

Around the top runs a frieze with reliefs representing the eight wind gods – the beardless Notos, pouring out rain from an urn (south); Lips, holding the stern ornament of a ship (southwest); Zephyros, a youth scattering flowers (west); Sykron the bringer of snow (northwest); the bearded Boreas, blowing into a shell (north); Kaikias, also bearded, the bringer of hail (northeast); Apeliotes, a young man bearing ears of corn and fruit (east); and Euros, wrapped in a cloak (southeast).

To the south of the tower is a building of the Roman period (first century A.D.) with the springing points of arches. Its function is uncertain (office of the market police, Caesareum?).

Adjoining the entrance to the excavated area is a marble latrine with seating for nearly 70.

The water-clock is located outside the western entrance to the Roman Market. It served as a form of meteorological station by combining a sundial, a waterclock and a weathervane showing the direction of the wind.

The clock is commonly known as “Aerides” (the winds) (Planetware.com).

A highly visible landmark, Lykavittos, also known as Lykabettos, stands 227 meters/909 feet in altitude. It was:

once well outside Athens but now surrounded by the city on all sides, is the dominant hill in the plain of Attica. It is a hill of cretaceous chalk, covered with various species of plant life, and is a popular place to go to escape from the hurly-burly of city life. At the top stands the chapel dedicated to St George, from where there are extensive views of the whole city (Planetware.com).

Click photo for larger view. Use search box at upper right for more posts on Athens, as well as other biblical sites.


Odeon of Herodes Atticus

February 9, 2015

On the south slope of the Athenian Acropolis you can view the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. An odeon was a theater built for musical performances and poetry competitions. This structure post-dates the apostle Paul and his preaching here (Acts 17) by about a century.

Odeum of Herodes Atticus. Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Odeon of Herodes Atticus. Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

From Wikipedia:

It was built in 161 AD by the Athenian magnate Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, Aspasia Annia Regilla. It was originally a steep-sloped amphitheater with a three-story stone front wall and a wooden roof made of expensive, cedar of Lebanon timber. It was used as a venue for music concerts with a capacity of 5,000. It lasted intact until it was destroyed and turned into a ruin by the Heruli in 267 AD.

The Odeon (AD 161) was a gift from Herodes Atticus:

whose life reads like something out of the Arabian Nights; he inherited his extraordinary wealth from his father, who found a treasure outside Rome. Famous in its time for having no interior columns to support its long-gone cedar wood roof, the 6,000 seat Odeion hosts the excellent Festival of Athens, where modern European and ancient Greek cultures meet in theatre, ballet and classical concerts performed by companies from all over the world. (Greece by Dana Facaros & Linda Theodorou. Cadagan Guides. p.119).

Click image for larger view. For other posts on Athens, Greece use search box at upper right.


Paul’s Acts 17 Sermon, Greek Text, at Aeropagus, Athens Greece

February 5, 2015

In Acts 17 Luke narrates how Paul was invited to speak to the men of Athens in the midst of the Areopagus, at Mars Hill. Among the listeners were Epicurean and Stoic philosophers (v.17). He began his address by referencing an altar in their city with this inscription: “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” Using that as his starting point, he contrasted the true God with the idols they worshiped. The true God made all things, including us. He gives unto us life, breath, and all things. Because He is the Creator, and we are His creatures, we must seek after Him and find Him. He commands all men everywhere to repent; a day is coming in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the One whom He raised from the dead (summary of vv. 23-31).

Today at the site of Mars Hill there is a bronze plaque with the text of Paul’s sermon engraved in the Greek language.

Paul's Acts 17 sermon, on bronze plaque at base of Mars Hill, Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Paul’s Acts 17 sermon, on bronze plaque at base of Mars Hill, Athens, Greece. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

The Greeks did not believe in a resurrection, so as soon as Paul mentioned that, many of his audience stopped listening (v.32). Others procrastinated (v.32). But there were some converts to Christ there: Dionysius the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (v.34).

We have numerous other posts on Athens. Use search box at above right.

Click image for larger view.


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