Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Turkey and Greece Study Tour Reading List

From an email I sent out to participants on this spring's Briercrest Study Tour of Turkey and Greece:

I compiled this list of readings for the academic course that goes along with the “Following Paul” study tour. Since I know from past experience that advance preparation pays off in a richer experience on the trip itself and more enduring memories afterward, I am sending it along to all of you. Don’t feel bad if you are not able to do all the readings; I encourage you to do as much as you can.

An Introduction to the History and Culture of Turkey and Greece

For most of us, the trip’s main attraction is its potential to help us understand the New Testament world better. Yet we cannot really return to the past. Our only access to ancient Greece and “Asia Minor” is through the twenty-first-century countries of Greece and Turkey. Focusing on only one small slice of the region’s history will actually distort our perspective on the period in which we are most interested. And, of course, there is a great deal that we can learn from the fascinating contemporary world that we will experience together. For these reasons, I encourage everyone to read about contemporary Turkey and Greece before we leave.

Students who take the study tour as a credit course will be required to read the “Understand Turkey” and “Understand Greece” chapters from the latest edition of the Lonely Planet Guides to Turkey and Greece. There may be better options, but these are short, engaging, and available on-line. The section on Greece is currently available from the Lonely Planet website as a free download. The section on Turkey will put you out $3.46 for the 90 page pdf. Here are the details:

·         Turkey: Bainbridge, James, et al. “Understand Turkey.” Pages 620-666 in Lonely Planet: Turkey (12th ed.), 2011. Chapter available online for $3.46:
·         Greece: Miller, Korina, et al. “Understand Greece.” Pages 710-758 in Lonely Planet: Greece (10th ed.), 2012. Chapter available online here:

(You can purchase the entire guide books in print form if you like. Note, however, that the Lonely Planet series is geared primarily toward do-it-yourself travelers.)

The World of the New Testament

Students who take the study tour as a credit course will be required to read James S. Jeffers, The Greco-Roman World of the New Testament Era: Exploring the Background of Early Christianity (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999) before the tour begins. Based on my initial sampling, the book appears to be an excellent, well-written introduction to the social world of the earliest Christians. I think you will find that it brings to life the bare ruins we will visit. Recommended for everyone! The book will soon be available at the Briercrest Bookstore (; you can also order it through your favourite online retailer.

We are looking forward to the expert teaching of Dr. Mark Wilson during most of our time in Turkey. Students who take the study tour as a credit course will be required to read three of Dr. Wilson’s essays that deal with aspects of Paul’s missionary journeys and/or cultural life in Asia Minor:

Wilson, Mark. “The Rise of Christian Oracles in the Shadow of the Apollo Cults.” Ekklesiastikos Pharos 90 (2008): 162–175.
________. “The Role of the Holy Spirit in Paul’s Ministry Journeys.” Ekklesiastikos Pharos 87 (2005): 76–95.
________. “The Route of Paul’s First Journey to Pisidian Antioch.” New Testament Studies 55 (2009): 471–483.

Please email me if you would like a copy.

Ancient Sites

Student who take the study tour as a credit course will be required to read the relevant sections of Clyde E. Fant and Mitchell G. Reddish, A Guide to Biblical Sites in Greece and Turkey (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). The book will soon be available at the Briercrest Bookstore (; you can also order it through your favourite online retailer.

If you have room in your luggage, you may want to purchase and bring along one or more of the following specialized guide books, which complement the general treatment in Fant and Reddish:

Ancient Sites in Turkey
·         Hemer, Colin J. The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001. (It reads like the dry doctoral dissertation it is, but the content—essentially a geographical commentary on Revelation 2-3—is fascinating and illuminating.)
·         McDonagh, Bernard. Blue Guide Turkey. 3rd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001. (I found McDonagh’s Blue Guide to be an invaluable resource on a previous trip to Turkey, and also, remarkably, a lot of fun to read.)
·         Wilson, Mark. Biblical Turkey: A Guide to Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor. Istanbul: Ege Yayinlari, 2010. (Lavishly illustrated in full colour, Mark Wilson’s guide is an excellent introduction to biblical sites in Turkey. As it is rather heavy, you may want to read it before you leave to whet your appetite for the trip itself.)

Ancient Sites in Greece – Both of the following books come highly recommended on Amazon. Take your pick:
·         Marker, Sherry, and James Pettifer. Blue Guide Greece: The Mainland. 7th ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006.
·         Mee, Christopher, and Tony Spawforth. Greece: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford University Press, 2001.

The Bible

Last, but not least, you will want to read Paul’s epistles, Revelation 1-3 and the relevant sections of Acts as you prepare for and participate on the tour. Here is a reading schedule for the tour itself, along with our final itinerary:

April 29, Monday Arrive Istanbul
·         Meet our Tutku Tour guide and transfer to the Grand Hotel Halic ( in Istanbul. The rest of the day is free. Overnight in Istanbul. 

April 30, Tuesday Istanbul
·         On our first full day in Turkey we will sample some of the stunning sites in Istanbul, including the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Archaeological Museum, the Underground Cistern and the Grand Bazaar. Overnight in Istanbul at the Grand Hotel Halic.

May 1, Wednesday Morning Flight to Antalya; Perga - Attalia
·         After our arrival in Antalya, we will visit the Greco-Roman city of Perga (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25) and the Antalya Museum before taking a walking tour of Attalia that concludes at the Asia Minor Research Center. Overnight in Antalya at the Dedeman Antalya Hotel (
       Bible Reading: Acts 13-14; Galatians

May 2, Thursday Pisidian Antioch - Colossae
·         This morning we will drive to Yalvaç to visit Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:14) and Yalvaç Museum. We will then drive west past ancient Apollonia and Apamea, with a brief stop at the unexcavated site of Colossae. Overnight in Pamukkale at the Lycus River Thermal Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Colossians

May 3, Friday Hierapolis - Laodicea - Aphrodisias - Kuşadasi
·         Today we will visit the biblical cities of Hierapolis (Col 4:13) and Laodicea, and stop in Aphrodisias. Overnight Kuşadasi at the Grand Onder Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Revelation 1-3

May 4, Saturday Ephesus
·         We will spend the day touring the ancient site of Ephesus, including terrace houses and the temple of Artemis, as well as St. John's Basilica and the museum in Selçuk. Overnight Kuşadasi at the Grand Onder Hotel. 
·         Bible Reading: Acts 18:18-20:1; Ephesians; 1 Timothy

May 5, Sunday Miletus - Didyma - Priene - Izmir
·         Today we will visit Miletus (Acts 20:15, 17), the Temple of Apollo at Didyma, and the Hellenistic city of Priene. Overnight Izmir at the Karaca Hotel (
·         Bible Reading: Acts 20

May 6, Monday Smyrna, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Thyatira - Bergama
·         Today we will concentrate on the cities mentioned in Revelation 2-3, with visits to Smyrna, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Thyatira. Overnight Bergama at the Berksoy Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Revelation 2-3

May 7, Tuesday Pergamum - Assos
·         We will spend most of the day visiting the extensive cite of Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17), including the acropolis, the Red Basilica, and the Asclepium. We will then drive past the port city of Adramyttium mentioned in Acts 27:2. Overnight Assos at the Grand Assos Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Revelation 2:12-17; 27:2

May 8, Wednesday Assos - Troas - Troy - Transfer to Greece
·         After an early breakfast, we will tour the site of Assos (Acts 20:13-14), and then travel to Greece with stops along the way in Troas and Troy. Overnight Kavala at the Esperia Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Acts 20:1-18

May 9, Friday. Neapolis - Philippi - Amphipolis
·         We will begin our day in Neapolis and then follow the route of Paul's second missionary journey with visits to Neapolis, Philippi and Amphipolis, and a final drive to Thessalonica. Overnight Thessaloniki at the Metropolitan Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Acts 16; Philippians

May 10, Saturday Thessalonica - Berea - Vergina
·         After visiting ancient Thessalonica, we will drive to Berea (Acts 17), and then visit the royal tombs of Macedonia at Vergina. Overnight Delphi at the Pythia Art Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Acts 17:1-15; 1-2 Thessalonians

May 11, Sunday Delphi
·         We will spend the day at the beautiful ancient Greek city of Delphi. Overnight Corinth at the Kalamaki Beach Hotel (

May 12, Monday Corinth - Cenchrae
·         We will spend the day in the famous city of Corinth and the port of Cenchrae. Overnight Athens at the Jason Inn Hotel ( 
·         Bible Reading: Acts 18:1-17; 1-2 Corinthians

May 13, Tuesday Athens the acropolis and agora; Mars hill.
·         On our final day, we will visit the acropolis of Athens, the extensive agora, and Mars hill. We will also tour the Parthenon museum. Overnight Athens. 
·         Bible Reading: Acts 17:16-18:1

May 14, Wednesday Transfer to Athens Airport

Happy Reading!

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