Turkey is called the Other Holy Land as it has more biblical sites than any other country in the Middle East. Unfortunately many Christians are unaware of Turkey’s unique role in the Bible because Biblical references works usually refer to this strategic peninsula, that bounded by the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Black Seas, as Asia Minor or Anatolia. Turkey is very important in understanding the background of the New Testament, because approximately two-thirds of its books were written either to or from churches in Turkey where the three major apostles—Peter, St. Paul, and St. John—either ministered or lived in.
Important Biblical Personalities in Asia Minor
About St. Paul
St. Paul, the great Christian missionary, was born perhaps in 10 CE, in the Cilician city of Tarsus. His family was Jewish and from them he inherited Roman citizenship. St. Paul was privileged to have been born a Roman citizen at a time when it was not yet a universal right for people in the empire. Initially confined to freeborn natives of the city itself, as Roman control was extended throughout Italy and then to the lands bordering the Mediterranean and beyond, certain individuals and communities were given this right. At the time of St. Paul’s ancestors, one way of attaining to Roman citizenship was serving in the Roman army for twenty-five years. However, because of sabbath and Mosaic food prescriptions this profession would not have been normally possible for a Jew.
Seven Church of Revelation
…I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet, ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.’
About St. John
Knowledge of the life of St. John of Patmos (also known as the ‘Theologian’ or the ‘Divine’), the author of the Book of Revelation, which includes the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor, mostly comes from apocryphal stories recorded after his death. Christian tradition identifies him with Other New Testament figures of the same name, St. John the Evangelist, the traditional author of the Fourth Gospel who is also claimed to be St. John the Apostle. The accounts of the Gospels agree that the latter is the son of Zebedee; together with his brother James (the Greater), he decided to follow Christ while fishing in the lake Galilee. He became one of Christ’s closest disciples and is said to have been with him on various significant occasions such as the Transfiguration and the Crucifixion. According to the Fourth Gospel…