See “The Other Holy Land” with Bill Hamblin


The Sultanahmet or Blue Mosque in Istanbul


I’m pleased to announce that my friend and BYU colleague —  the executive editor of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture — Professor William J. Hamblin will be leading a tour to Turkey in June 2013:


This tour will follow essentially the same itinerary that my wife and I developed, in conjunction with the folks at, for early September 2012′s Maxwell Institute trip to Turkey — which is to say that it will take participants to several of the cities of John’s Revelation (including Ephesus, where Paul lived for several years), to the great Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia and the beautiful Sultanahmet or Blue Mosque, to the town of Nicea (where the Nicene Council established the doctrine of the Trinity), and to the strange caves and cave-churches and exotic landscape of Cappadocia where Christian monks and hermits lived (and where, though it costs extra, you shouldn’t miss an early-morning hot-air-balloon ride).  You’ll learn more about Constantine and his “Nova Roma” or “New Rome,” which came to be known as Constantinople and then, when the Ottoman Empire conquered it in 1453, took the new name of “Istanbul.”  You’ll see the still-impressive defensive walls of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman capital city, which inspired Tolkien’s creation of the great city of Gondor.  You’ll cruise along the gorgeous and historic waterway called the Bosphorus.  You’ll love Istanbul’s late medieval Spice Market and Grand Bazaar.


Turkey is, quite simply, one of the most fascinating places on the planet.


All of the cities of the Revelation are in Turkey.  All of the seven ecumenical councils of the early Christian centuries were held in Turkey.


Turkey is clean and safe and economically vibrant.


Moreover, the Turkish guide who will be accompanying the group is one of the finest guides with whom I’ve ever worked.  (My wife and I have been with him on four trips now, I think.)


And Bill Hamblin (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a gifted teacher, a specialist on the pre-modern Near East, who has spent decades studying and teaching much of the relevant history.


I wish I could go again this next June — I love introducing people to Turkey; most Americans know little about it, but are blown away when they see it — but I can’t.  I enthusiastically recommend that people sign up to go with Bill Hamblin on this tour to a wonderful, wonderful place of almost inexhaustible interest.


And Bill will be happy, along the way, to tell you about what we’re doing at The Interpreter Foundation.


P.S.  The photo of the Sultanahmet Mosque, or Blue Mosque, above, was taken, I suspect, from the dining room of the hotel where the group will likely be staying.  If not, it was from within a very short distance.  I know the place well.



  • Eric Larson

    I’d love to do this! I spent some time at Incirlik Air Base near Adana, and got to visit both Tarsus and Antakya/Antioch. I wonder, can you point me to a good Turkish restaurant in SLC? I need a good Adana kebab.

    • danpeterson

      If anybody out there knows of a good Turkish restaurant along the Wasatch Front, I would love to hear about it.

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