Archive for category Biblical archaeology

Revisiting Kos

Harbour Stoa at Kos Agora © 2017 Simon Peter Sutherland

The ancient remains of the Harbour Stoa at Kos town © 2017 Simon Peter Sutherland

On my last visit to the Greek island of Kos I largely explored the island from the perspective of St. Luke, and the impression the Island of Hippocrates might of had on him as a physician. I made a film about it in 2015 which you can be viewed here

Recently I revisited the island and explored it from the perspective of St. Paul and his mission as recorded in Acts 21: 1. I also took the refreshing perspective of early Church history and how Paul’s visit impacted the island during the early centuries of Christianity.

As always, it was refreshing to me to walk once again in the Apostles footsteps because I regretfully wrestle so deeply with many claims of so many modern ‘Churches’ that a swim in the ancient waters brings me back home. There is nothing quite like washing off the filth of half-truths and misconceptions with a dip in the ocean of Scripture followed with a drink of historic Christianity at the local cafe of consistency.

Kos town and the ancient city of Kefalos are two of those places. My prime locations are the ancient Agora and harbour Stoa of Kos town and Ayios Stefanos near Kefalos. The latter for its ecclesiastical archaeology and the former for its Biblical locations and insights.

Ancient Agora Kos town © 2017 Simon Peter Sutherland

Ancient Agora of Kos town © 2017 Simon Peter Sutherland

We can be certain that Paul and Luke visited the ancient Agora of Kos and although the majority of it now lies in ruins, the discoveries of archaeology provide some very insightful things concerning the cults and cultures the Apostle faced when he and Luke visited the area.

On first entry to the town Paul and Luke would have entered into the Agora (marketplace) from the harbour stoa, from here they would have met with the influence of the ancient Greek gods of Aphrodite and Dionysos.

My visit was so inspiring to me that I filmed yet again another documentary on the subject and that film with be available for viewing in the future. I also have the distant desire to publish a book of my voyages and journals of Biblical Greece in the coming years. My love of God and His Bible and Truths has taken me many thousands of miles over the years and one bright day I hope to share the many things I have noticed in these ancient Greek cities.

It is true that in themselves these ancient sites are just historic ruins, but when a believer is walking through them with presence of the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ and a Bible, they are anything but ruins.

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Researching Titus 1: 5 and filming on Crete

Kaloi Limenes, Crete © 2016 Simon Peter Sutherland

Kaloi Limenes, Crete © 2016 Simon Peter Sutherland

I have recently returned to England from my visit to the Greek island of Crete.

Travelling thousands of miles across Biblical landscape is always insightful and my primary goal on Crete was to seek out the historic locations written about in Acts 27 and Paul’s letter to Titus.

My desire was to gain a more historic understanding of Titus 3: 5

for this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are wanting”.

2000 years ago Paul gave commission to Titus to appoint elders in every city on Crete. My aim in visiting Crete was to discover those ancient cities and gain an historic understanding of the work Titus did on Crete. Along the way standing face to face with the ancient law code of Gortyna, the mysteries of the Phaistos disc, ancient Minoan culture, and in some cases frustration at the sheer amount of unexcavated sites, leading to a general lack of information.

Kaloi Limenes 'Fair Havens' Crete © 2016 Simon Peter Sutherland

Kaloi Limenes ‘Fair Havens’ Crete © 2016 Simon Peter Sutherland

However, travelling over 100 miles across the island, visiting the ancient cities of Heraklion, Gortyna, Lasea and the spectacular mountains to port of ‘Kalio Limenes’ (fair havens) proved insightful to the Biblical narrative yet left many unanswered questions.

Part of the reason for this is that much of the history of ancient Crete has little connection to the New Testament era. Ancient cities such as Knossos have connections but they were long gone by the 1st century AD. But Gortyna and Kalio Limenes are key locations.

 

The Church of St. Titus, Gortyna © 2016 Simon Peter Sutherland

The Church of St. Titus, Gortyna © 2016 Simon Peter Sutherland

On Crete I filmed around 5 hours worth of footage for a documentary on the subject, battling with strong winds. I hope to complete that task in the distant future but in the meantime, I will continue in researching Paul and Titus’ work on Crete.

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“Revealing the buried secrets of the Temple mount”

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The Arch of Titus and Biblical Prophecy

The Arch of Titus, Rome © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

The Arch of Titus, Rome © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

In Rome there stands the Arch of Titus. This arch stands on the Via Sacra and was built c 82 AD to commemorate the Roman victory over Jerusalem and the Jewish people.

I had read about the Arch of Titus for many years, and during my visit to Rome it was quite a monumental moment for me to look directly at this treasure of the Biblical era.

The Arch of Titus, Rome and the Jerusalem Temple © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

The Arch of Titus, Rome and the Jerusalem Temple © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

The actual arch contains some of the few secular and historical images of the artefacts from the Herodian Temple and the siege of Jerusalem. The arch contains an image of the Menorah which was the very same Menorah that was standing in the Temple in Jerusalem when Jesus was on earth. The Arch also contains excellent representations of the gold Trumpets and the Table of Show bread as written about in the Bible.

It is claimed that the images were once coloured in gold and the background blue.

The inscription on the arch reads like so;

SENATVS

POPVLVSQVE.ROMANVS

DIVO.TITO.DIVI-VESPASIANI.F

VESPASIANO.AVGUSTO

A literal translation into English, would read something like this;

Senate

people Roman Titus divine

Vespasian son Augustus

With some emphasis on translation, it could read like this;

(The) Roman Senate and (the) people to (the) Divine Titus Vespasian son (of) Augustus.

The Arch of Titus, Rome © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

The Arch of Titus, Rome © 2015 Simon Peter Sutherland

On another note, the situation I so often find myself in is at variance with so many modern claims of secular scholarship. I find it hard to respect certain branches of modern critical scholarship when certain claims are made against the Bible, arguing the narratives are not factual history, but merely religious fiction. These claims are at variance with me continuously, especially when I see facts such as the Arch of Titus standing before my very eyes.

The Arch of Titus strengthens the case to claim that the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke were all written well before AD 70, likewise the book of Revelation.

The following verses are affirmed by the Arch of Titus;

Matthew 24: 2

Mark 13: 2

Luke 21: 6

The thing is many modern scholars must claim the Gospels were written after AD 70 and not by eye witnesses or the truth of Biblical prophecy will be clearly seen. The Gospels claim that Jesus, during His incarnation, prophesied the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple around 40 years or more prior to the events themselves. The problem is that many modern critical scholars do not believe in prophecy and therefore approach the texts with that persuasion. Thus, if a person looks at the Biblical narrative through certain spectacles and in denial of the supernatural, that person will only see a natural explanation. Thus, the conclusion will be made that the Gospel narratives were written after the events they prophesied and not by eye witnesses.

As controversial a statement as it may seem these days, there is no actual evidence that the Gospels themselves were written after AD 70. On the contrary, the evidence of the Arch of Titus affirms the New Testament step by step and the Old Testament also.

This claim is not any new argument or contrary to Ecclesiastical history or historical Theology.

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Watch “The Apostle Paul at Rhodes” on Revelation TV

Since 2011 I have been producing and presenting a number of Biblical, Historical and Theologically based documentaries. I have been making films for a number of years now and my latest documentary “The Apostle Paul at Rhodes” was filmed in 2014 during my visit to the Greek Island of Rhodes. As part of a possible series and not unlike “The Apostles at Paphos” I visited the ancient sites associated with appropriate texts of Acts of the Apostles

The latest film is based upon a singular reference to Rhodes in Acts 21: 21, and somewhat explores the Apostle Paul and the theme of his mission to the Gentiles. Granted, there is no actual text that states that Paul spent time on Rhodes, but the theme is no less engaging or devoid of interest.

Local tradition on Rhodes claims that he visited Lindos, at a harbour known locally as ‘St Paul’s harbour” or ‘St Paul’s bay’ to tourists. This location is a popular destination and much of the documentary was filmed there.

I am very pleased to say that the Network premier of ‘The Apostle Paul at Rhodes’ can be viewed tomorrow (UK time) @ 2pm on RevelationTV SKY: 581, FREESAT: 692, FREEVIEW HD: 241 and Saturday 9th May 8pm, Sunday 17th May 11pm, Friday 22nd May 12: 30pm, and Saturday 30th May 6: 30pm.

Alternatively the documentary is available for viewing online at YouTube.

http://www.revelationtv.com/

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The Nazareth Inscription and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ crucified from a 19th century engraving © 2013/15 Simon Peter Sutherland

Jesus Christ crucified from a 19th century engraving © 2013/15 Simon Peter Sutherland

During this time frame known as “Holy Week” in which Christians throughout the world of many denominations move toward Easter. In liturgical denominations, Christians remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, where He was hailed as Messiah by His people who laid Palm leaves as He rode into Jerusalem on the back of a Donkey.

As the world looks on, our thoughts are on the Passion and the Resurrection of Christ.

It is with this in mind that my construct of conversation is not one which believes the many claims of our present modern scholarship, particularly those which deny the authenticity of the Bible, its claims and accuracy. Amongst the many criticisms, arguments, and speculative claims modern so-called ‘Biblical scholars’ make, I take a direct road that knows fully that the Bible is the Truth and that Jesus Christ truly died for our sins according to the Scriptures. As far as I am concerned, there is no debate: The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact. However, one problem for some people is is that many modern secular scholars deny this, and present minds seeds into the unsuspecting public without really showing them the absolute information which is available.

For some reason, the ‘opinions’ of the academic elite appears to be more important to some people than the Truth itself.

One very important archaeological testament not so often presented by the so-called ‘academic elite’ is what is known as ‘The Nazareth Inscription’ or ‘The Nazareth Decree’. The tablet itself dates to the 1st century and was written in Koine Greek (The language of the New Testament) and was acquired in the 19th century from Nazareth, the home town of Jesus. This inscription is made of marble and contains a Greek edict from a Caesar.

This is a transcript of what it says:

“EDICT OF CAESAR

It is my decision [concerning] graves and tombs—whoever has made them for the religious observances of parents, or children, or household members—that these remain undisturbed forever. But if anyone legally charges that another person has destroyed, or has in any manner extracted those who have been buried, or has moved with wicked intent those who have been buried to other places, committing a crime against them, or has moved sepulcher-sealing stones, against such a person, I order that a judicial tribunal be created, just as [is done] concerning the gods in human religious observances, even more so will it be obligatory to treat with honor those who have been entombed. You are absolutely not to allow anyone to move [those who have been entombed]. But if [someone does], I wish that [violator] to suffer capital punishment under the title of tomb-breaker.”

When this edict is linked up with Matthew 28: 12-13, they match up perfectly.

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Visit to Rome: The Mamertine Prison

Simon Peter Sutherland at the Mamertine Prison, Rome © 2014

Simon Peter Sutherland at the Mamertine Prison, Rome © 2014

Visiting ancient Biblical sites in the Mediterranean is always an experience for me and is something I find second to none. Although I like some of the wonders of modernity, I regard our present world as unappealing, noisy and somewhat shallow. Because of that, I prefer history rather than the present

Last month, from 17th November 2014, I travelled to Rome, the ancient and modern city known for being somewhat of an open air museum. Being a history fanatic myself and absolutely intrigued by the Bible, as always I was in inner rapture.

Forum, Rome © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

Forum, Rome © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

During the afternoon of the first day of our trip, we visited the ancient area of the Forum leading to a place known as “Mamertinum”or the Mamertine Prison. This ancient prison is within a stones throw of the ancient forum, a Comitium which once felt the feet of the Apostles Peter and Paul and also of Luke and of Aquila and Priscilla.

The Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles were written while Luke was at Rome. We also know that Luke was with Paul during his time in prison. This is understood from 2 Timothy 4: 11.

The Mamertine prison, known historically as the “Tullianum”, was probably constructed between 640-616 BC and was likely a cistern. The amazing thing for me was that scripture was written from this damp dark cell.

In 2 Timothy 1: 16 Paul referred to his “chain” this chain now resides at ‘St Paul outside the walls’ which was build on his ancient tomb. Writing from the Mamertine, in 2 Timothy 2: 7-9 Paul wrote: “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound.

On entry down the stairs to the upper level of the complex, ancient Frescos were shown to me. They can be found on the walls and show Christians depicted with the arms and hands held out. Over recent years Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that have connections to St Peter as early as 7th century. The evidence also suggesting the Mamertine was used as a Church by the 8th century.

The claim that St Peter was in Rome goes all the way back to the 1st century from his probable coded use of the word “Babylon” for Rome in 1 Peter 5: 13, 2 Peter 5: 13, and his crucifixion linked to John 21: 18 where Jesus foretold him of his future suffering. The claim of his crucifixion in Rome comes from the 1st or 2nd century “Acts of Peter” which we know was in circulation in the 2nd century. The “Acts of Peter” claims that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome at his own request. This claim is also affirmed by Clement between AD 80-98 in his letter to the Corinthians (chapter 5). An event which probably took place near where St Peter’s Basilica now stands around AD 64 during the reign of Emperor Nero.

Mamertine Prison © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

Mamertine Prison © 2014 Simon Peter Sutherland

There was a time when condemned prisoners were held in this cell before execution. We know for certain that 2 Timothy was written from the Mamertine and it is possible that Philippians was also written here too. If Peter was in fact executed in Rome then he most certainly was held in the Mamertine, as a strong tradition affirms. If that be true which I think it is, 2 Peter may also have been written in this dungeon.

Other Biblical texts possibly written from the Mamertine or nearby, include Philemon, Ephesians, Colossians and possibly Galatians. It is one of the most outstanding thoughts and realities of life that the Truth of the Gospel is that suffering produces great things. Persecution never destroys the Church, on the contrary it enhances it. It is truly amazing to think that such a light as Scripture itself could come from such a dark damp cell. That such a light could truly shine from such a dark place.

I love this little prison.

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