Unknown to many, Turkey is a very important Biblical place. It has always been popular as a leisure and vacation spot but not a Pilgrimage destination.
The Tigrus and Euphrates River, often mentioned in the Bible, have their beginnings in Turkey and flow through Iraq. Noah’s arc landed on Mt. Ararat (Genesis 8:1-5) and after leaving Ur, Abraham and his family lived for a while in Haran (Genesis 11:31). Many other ancient peoples named in the Bible were entirely or partly in Turkey.
Israel is has always been popularly considered the Holy Land because it is the land that Jesus lived and died,and where the Church began. However, soon after Jesus’ death, the gospel spread northward to Antioch, a city located in southeastern Turkey. For the following 1000 years, the land of Turkey became the center for the growing Christian movement and Turkey has been the site of many of the most crucial events in the history of Christianity.
Two-thirds of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament were either written to or from Asia Minor.
Here, the followers of Jesus were first called ‘’Christians’’ (Acts 11:26) in Antioch-on-the-Orontes. The three great apostles Paul, Peter, and John have all laid the foundation stones of churches in Asia Minor. John left Judea and moved to Ephesus to live among the Seven Churches in western Turkey. In his first letter, Peter addressed the Christian communities in five provincial regions of Asia Minor.
Paul’s missionary journeys took him three times through western Anatolia. It was in Alexandria Troas that he had the vision of a man appealing to him to extend his work to Macedonia. Polycarp and Ignatius were famous Apostolic Fathers who lived in Smyrna and Antioch.
All seven Ecumenical Councils were held in western Anatolia. It was from Constantinople that the Eastern
Roman Empire was ruled and one of the most stately and most honored Christian buildings, St. Sophia, was built here. Between the 11th and the 16th centuries Crusaders tramped across Anatolia.
Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to call Turkey ‘’the Holy Land of Asia Minor’’.
Because many Jews and Christians are not aware of this rich biblical heritage, until recently faith tourism had been slow to develop in Turkey. However it may soon change.
I for one will be traveling with a group soon to further discover this amazing biblical land. Once I arrive I am sure I will more to share about this country as a pilgrimage destination.
Source: Dogan Senay, Bible Expert, D’Archo Travel