Bruce Longenecker’s The Crosses of Pompeii– Part Five

BEN: In the streets of Ephesos, there are also things carved in the street paving stones that people walked on. Famously, there is one which seems to give directions to a brothel in town from the southern agora and port. This evidence might support the notion that things carved in paving stones were meant to be directional in character. I wonder if you have explored other ancient cities like Ephesos for such crosses? Or know of evidence of such from some other person’s scholarly w … [Read more...]

Bruce Longenecker’s The Crosses of Pompeii– Part Four

BEN: Let’s talk about apotropaic symbols, symbols meant to either ward off evil spirits and bad luck, or to encourage good luck to happen at a particular venue, or for particular people. Christians will immediately think of the blood on the lintel in the Exodus, or even the hex signs on barns in Amish country, when they think of warding off bad things. To what degree do you think devout Christians continued to carry forward such practices as they became more and more socialized into the new f … [Read more...]

Bruce Longenecker’s The Crosses of Pompeii– Part Three

BEN: Early on in your book, you have some important things to say about how apologetics can get in the way of careful accurate interpretation of historical data, including the kind of data you are focusing on in The Crosses of Pompeii. Say some more about this.BRUCE:Well, I share one particular concern with those who advocate the consensus view regarding Christianity and Pompeii – that is, archaeology should not be used as a vehicle to bolster religious agendas. This has happened far too … [Read more...]

Bruce Longenecker’s The Crosses of Pompeii– Part Two

BEN: One of the topics broached at length in this study is the issue of syncretism. In fact a good deal of what you say reminds me of the interesting study by Ramsay McMullen, one of his last books entitled The Second Church, where, instead of going with the ‘multiple Christianities’ model of Ehrman, he argues instead, and I think rightly for a two levels sort of early Christianity-- at the lay level there was considerable syncretism, especially as seen in the funerary practices of ordinary Chr … [Read more...]

Bruce Longenecker’s The Crosses of Pompeii– Part One

BEN: Bruce you’ve now written two books The Cross before Constantine (Fortress, 2015) and The Crosses of Pompeii (Fortress, 2016) about the early Christian use of the cross symbol. What prompted your extensive interest in this particular subject?BRUCE:Having written a book on “Paul, Poverty, and the Greco-Roman World” (the subtitle of my book Remember the Poor from 2010), the historian in me wanted to press further into the first-century world in order to expand my reach regarding the cha … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016 Part Twelve– The Euphrates

According to the Bible, two of the rivers that flowed from or by Eden were the Tigris and the Euphrates, both of which are in the very area of eastern Turkey we were visiting..... above are the pictures of the Euphrates today, post the building of the Ataturk dam. And here's my friend Meltem stepping in the river, followed by a picture of somebody else's foot in the river... (guess who).Here is the dam that made possible the regulating of the river.... According to Meltem, this dam … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016– Part Eleven, Mt. Nimrud

The climb up Mt. Nimrud is breath-taking, quite literally, and for some reason it was harder for me this time than five years ago. Surely it couldn't be because I'm older now--- could it? But even more breath-taking is the view in all directions from the top of Mt. Nimrud. When one approaches this peak from a distance it stands out from the range it is in, not least because of its artificial top, which may or may not contain the tomb of Antiochus (probably not). Here's the view.... The top of … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016– Part Ten Arsemeia

It is hard for me to stress enough how beautiful a country Turkey is. And the Commagene kingdom which includes Arsemeia, Zeugma, and Mt. Nimrud, the mount Olympus of Turkey is some of the most beautiful. Arsemeia is on the back side of Mt. Nimrud and on the way to it. King Antiochus Commagene was a remarkable fellow, not only claiming direct descent from Darius the Persian, but also the inheritor of the Alexandrian legacy, and so like Alexander he made an attempt at syncretism--- a blending of … [Read more...]

Turkey 2016– Part Nine, Roman Bridges Standing Up

The phrase 'built to last' gets thrown around a lot in our time, but frankly we ain't got nothing on the ancient Romans. When they built a bridge or a road, or an aqueduct, or a theater or a coliseum, well at least some of it is still around in most cases. As for us, we can't even make asphalt last three years without cracking and potholes. You get the picture. One such bridge is the bridge pictured above which we stopped at on the way to Mt. Nimrud. Here's the details about this bridge … [Read more...]