July 6, 2016

One of the advantages of doing the Gulet boat is you can go to places along the undulated coast of Turkey which are difficult or impossible to reach by land. One such place is the port called Knidos which St. Paul harbored off of according to Acts. 27.7. When we arrived we discovered a spectacular double port, both on the Aegean and on the Mediterranean, and it does indeed appear to be a safe haven for small boats, but also… Read more

July 5, 2016

Cruising down the coast in a Gulet boat with friends and great food is a blast…… and on this particular day we were entering the Dalyan river from the Aegean through a freshwater marsh jam packed with blue crabs and loggerhead turtles, that according to our guide got as big as 3 meters across…. the turtles love eating the crabs, and they lay their eggs on sandbanks in the marsh. Yep that’s me on the right side of the boat,… Read more

July 4, 2016

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July 3, 2016

BEN: As it turns out, talking about waste is not a waste of time when discussing the crosses in the streets of Pompeii. I take your point about human latrines and private toilets and the baths etc. But as you say carts pulled by animals were allowed in the streets of Pompeii, and it is unconvincing to suggest there wouldn’t be animal dung in the streets when farmers brought their produce to market in town. Yes, there may have been… Read more

July 2, 2016

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… Read more

July 1, 2016

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… Read more

June 30, 2016

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…. Read more

June 29, 2016

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… Read more

June 28, 2016

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… Read more

June 27, 2016

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… Read more

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