Turkey 2016– Part Six– Byzantine Palace Mosaics

For better or worse, it was the practice of Muslim conquerors to: 1) take over churches and turn them into mosques (e.g. Hagia Sophia) which unintentionally helped preserve some of these churches and their features, and 2) alternately, they would build on top of such structures, which is what happened with the Byzantine Palace the remains of which are under the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. To be fair, the Palace was mostly in ruins due to an earthquake, so this was not really a hostile act and the … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016– Part Five Costumes and Food for all Occasions

Why is this man staring at you? Well, because he is offering you the opportunity to come and be photographed as a regal figure in the Ottoman and pre-Ottoman style. Really it should be called the Osmanli style, but the British screwed that up, just like they did the name of the country which is Turkiye not Turkey (three syllables not two, and named after turquoise not the bird). So people come to the great Osmanli palace to see many things and dress up regally for fun and have their photo … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016 Part Four— The Church of St. Eirene

According to church historical evidence, there were three 'first' churches of Byzantine Christianity-- one named for holy peace (St. Eirene which becomes St. Irene in English), one for holy wisdom (St. Sophia), and one other for holy power (St. Dynamis), which has not been found. St. Eirene is in fact the mother church which was dedicated by Constantine himself no less. It dates to the fourth century A.D. It has not been open to the public before 2014, but it is now. I have never been in this … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016–Part Three– The Big Dig

Sometimes archaeology is just a matter of pure luck. Take for instance the case of the discovery of the wrecks of numerous ancient ships near Istanbul. It was all over the news. and rightly so. But the dig in progress was for the new tunnel under the Bosphorous providing another way to get from the European to the Asian side of Istanbul, not to mention a new subway station.What to do about this find? Well, they weren't going to build a new museum in that spot since they were already … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016–Part Two–It’s a Small World— Miniaturk Style

There is a one to 25 scale replica park in Istanbul called the Miniaturk Park, presumably for families and especially those who can't afford to travel and see the sites in Turkey. It's a fun place, and in fact it's the only place you are going to find several sites of Biblical import--- for example the temple of Artemis (of which only one column still remains in Ephesus), or the tomb of Mausolus (from which we get the word mausoleum). The park has been open for some years now, but I had never … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016– Part One, The Chora Church

The word Chora in Greek means 'country' and once upon a time the Chora Church in Istanbul, now a museum, was out on the country. This church is the source of various of the famous iconic mosaic images you see of Christ Pantokrator, rather than Hagia Sophia. It has been under repair for some time, and I arrived on May 22 to discover it even more under repair, both outside and in. Here is what the outside now looks like----And sadly, the tourist industry in Turkey has taken a huge hit from … [Read more...]

Jim Caviezel’s Testimony– The Man who Played Jesus in the ‘Passion of the Christ’

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ejaw0F8-sY … [Read more...]

John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer

Having already read the prequel to Rogue Lawyer (352 pages released last October), namely the short story Partners on Kindle last month, I have now consumed Rogue Lawyer whilst riding on the plane to and from Atlanta to Istanbul and back again. As usual, they are both easy reads. But they are dealing with the complex subject of the relationship between ethics and legality. The Law is one thing, what is moral is another. Sometimes there are laws that by any reasonable or Biblical standards … [Read more...]

Praise for “Southern Discomfort”

Southern Discomfort Ben Witherington IIISouthern Discomfort chronicles the trials and tribulation of Masey Bumgarner, recently widowed, who returns from her summer vacation to discover that her town, Pineville, North Carolina, has decided to pave a four-lane highway through her front yard . . . without her permission or even sufficient advance notice. After consultation with her pastor, she decides to contest the location of this project in court. Along the way, her lawyer and his detective … [Read more...]