Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Day Four -- cool places, cool buildings, cool teachings

Before we left that morning I went out and got a few photos of the giant model of the Trojan horse that was built for the movie “Troy.”

Folks who bought a Troy shirt in front of the movie prop

Then Jeff Chadwick had a short devotional on the dock, where we could see Samothrace across the water. He spoke of Paul having a vision at Troy (just next to where we were), in which he was called to preach in Macedonia as part of his second vision: 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11 Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12 And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. (Acts 16:8 - 12). From there he went to Athens, and preached on Mars Hill about the unknown God, a place where Julianne and I visited once.

The view of Samothrace from Canakkale, near Troy

While there we also talked about his time in Troas during the third missionary journey, when he preached for so long a young man fell asleep and fell out a window (Acts 20). Then we loaded on the bus and left for Assos. Paul went overland to Assos from Troas, while his companions sailed there: 13 ¶ And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. 14 And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. (Acts 20:13 - 14).

BJ, Jul and I with the sea behind us, where Paul's companions would have come to meet him by sea

The citadel at Assos

A turkey in Assos, Turkey

The trip of the day was from Tory to Assos, then to Pergamum, and through Izmer/Smyrna on to just outside of Ephesus

Assos was great to visit. We visited the temple of Athena, an impressive place.

The temple of Athena on the Acropolis of Assos

BJ in the temple of Athena

The class at the temple of Athena

The drive along the coast is incredible. Turkey can hold its own against any place in the world. As we realized we were about to turn away from the coast, Jeff Chadwick and I (who were on my bus together, and with whom I always have such a great, amazing, wonderful, and fun time when we travel together) decided that it was our last moment for the students to get out and dip their toes in the Aegean. So we had the driver pull over and jumped out onto the beach. It caused a bit of a flap with those on the other bus that we did it without consulting them, but we survived the flap and I am glad we did it. The students loved, just loved getting into the Aegean for a minute or two, and it was worth the heat we took for making an executive decision for our class that kind of forced the other class into doing it too. The other class will thank us one day.

The students in the Aegean

Jul in the Aegean (she's cute, huh?)

Then we loaded up and drove to Pergamum. This was a great place to visit.

The Acropolis of Pergamum/Pergamos from the Asclepion

BJ and classmates on the tram up to Pergamum

The white stones of the Trajan temple at Pergamum

BJ in the Trajan temple

It is one of the seven churches addressed by John in his great Revelation: 12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:12 - 17). This was so great to visit and tie into this vision for a number of reasons. First, we saw the remains of a magnificent temple to Trajan. It was made of some of the whitest stone I have seen. Jeff Chadwick pointed out how they would have thought of this as they read about the white stone in the vision. There is also a large and impressive altar to Zeus there, now mostly destroyed. Many consider this to be the seat of Satan mentioned in the reading. So, we talked about how they could choose to eat of the things sacrificed on that altar, the things of the world, or they could choose to leave the world behind and follow God, and thus end up eating of the hidden manna. The idea of a choice, and of giving in to the world’s ideas rather than listening to God struck me as a powerful choice, and we talked about it in a powerful setting. It was a great moment (other than a tic or two that dropped from the tree onto people).

What is left of the altar of Zeus, the supposed "seat of Satan"

The theater at Pergamum and a temple of Dionysus

On the way down from Pergamum we made a quick photo-op stop at the Serapion, a temple for the worship of Serapis, a Greek recreation of some Egyptian gods that spread wildly throughout the Hellenistic world. Since I have been doing some studies on the cult of Serapis I loved this chance to get out and see one of the best preserved temples for the cult anywhere.

Temple to Serapis

Then we went to the Asclepion, a temple dedicated to Asclepius, with an attendant healing/medical site (Asclepius is a god of healing). This was a great place, though it rained on us. BJ had been pushed down pretty hard the night before playing basketball, and the Docs were afraid he may have broken his wrist (that reminds me, we need to get that checked out), so they wrapped him up just before we got to the Asclepion. We were glad to have some healing going on there.

BJ and the Docs at the Asclepion

The temple at the Asclepion

Frogs in the Asclepion pool. It rained on us there, it was kinda fun and a great temperature.

Students drinking from the healing waters of the Asclepion. The girl drinking actually got very sick that night. But since about 20 students drank and 19 didn't get sick, I think that wasn't it. Hope not.

Me pointing out an archtectural feature at the Asclepion

From there we spent about half an hour in a place they teach about making rugs, and try to sell them to you, and then we continued the gorgeous drive along the Aegean coastline. This is such spectacular country.

Elise learning about weaving

On the long drive to the hotel we drove through the city of Izmir. This is on the spot of ancient Smyrna, one of the seven churches that John addresses.

We did not get to the hotel for dinner until 8:50, which is a bit late. Dinner closed at 9:30, so we really had to hurry to get in some dinner. It was a great hotel, on a beautiful beach, with wonderful pools. But we got there too late to use any of it. The students were allowed to wade on the beach just a bit, and then we were done. We were all exhausted, and just a bit disappointed to waste such a wonderful hotel. But it’s okay, we would rather spend our time in the Biblical sites than the hotels.

View from our hotel room


  1. Now I know that real turkeys exist in Turkey. What cool places, buildings and teachings.
    (so is BJ's wrist ok? And how come he looks 10 years older than when you left??)

  2. BJ is at the surgeon right now getting it checked out, so we'll let you know. He does look way, way, way older. He has really had a growth and maturation spurt. The kid spends all his time with college girls these days. Don't know how he will feel about hanging out with kids his own age when he gets home.