Facts About Turkey

Did you know that Turkey…

is known as the Cradle of Civilization borders three major seas (Black, Aegean, Mediterranean) was known as Asia Minor (Anatolia) is where the first Human Rights Declaration was stated in1463 is where Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot is the birthplace of King Midas has 70% of the population under 35 is where the train the Orient Express was destined was the center of two empires (Byzantine and Ottoman) provides the world with 70% of it’s hazelnuts has a 650 year old shopping mall with 65 streets and 3500 shops is the birthplace of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) became a modern republic in 1923 is where Noah’s Ark landed witnessed the first international treaty in 1284 B.C. is where the world famous Iznik tiles originated had two of the Seven Wonders of the World has historical relics pertaining to three of the world’s major religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) has the world’s most valuable silk carpet provided water to the Garden of Eden from the Euphrates and Tigris is the birthplace of the Apostle Paul is where the Jews found refuge during the Inquisition in Europe is the location of Troy where the Trojan wars

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Ephesus: Ancient and Modern

As an ancient city Ephesus was preferred by many Romans as the dwelling place of choice, even above Rome. Today Selcuk-Ephesus is a retirement city for Turks and has a farming community.

Ancient Ephesus was the largest city in Roman Asia and one of the largest in that era. Today Selcuk-Ephesus is smaller than the many neighboring seaside resorts, but more frequented by tourists.

Ancient Ephesus had the greatest wonder of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Temple of Diana/Artemis. Today Selcuk-Ephesus has the house of the Virgin Mary according to the Roman Catholic Church.

Ancient Ephesus had the Apostle John’s Tomb and St. John’s Basilica. Modern Selcuk-Ephesus continues to be a pilgrimage site for Christians.

Ancient Ephesus was a center for learning. Today Selcuk-Ephesus is a center for historical-archeological studies.

Ancient Ephesus was a cosmopolitan port town where new ideas were exchanged. Modern Selcuk-Ephesus is a popular destination for cruise ships and tourists from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

Ancient Ephesus was noted for gladiatorial combat and sports. Today Selcuk-Ephesus has water sports, beach, camel wrestling, and is near to the yet to be opened international golf course.

Ancient Ephesus was at the crossroads of both land and sea

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East-West Cross-Cultural Lessons

When you come to Turkey from America you must remember you are coming from an individualistic society in contrast to a collective/hierarchical society. Relationships are all important and money is not as important as friendships. Everything is centered around the relationships of a particular family or group.

Life is based on group decisions. A proverb says,”The one who runs ahead runs alone.” This culture is shame based so to be expelled from the family or community is the greatest fear.

For example, in the West, which is a guilt based culture, people break the law and either pay the penalty and/or are forgiven. Yet in a shame based society, loss of face, exposure of wrong-doing, and rejection are powerful deterrents that lead one to work toward social acceptance.

In this society “privacy” as foreigners know it is hard to come by. The entire community is involved in all of life’s issues and to not let others be involved is rude. Here one’s contacts or circle of friends is more important than the rule of law.

In Turkish culture time is not as important as friendship, family, and being with people. Westerners want to “do something” whereas Turks are more concerned

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Early Church History

If the Old and New Testaments were not enough, look at the earliest Apostolic Fathers and you will see they were primarily in the Anatolian region of modern Turkey. Many of the ancient texts relating to the earliest churches were discovered or written by men from these old areas.

The Didache was found by a Bishop from Nicomedia, who lived in the area of ancient Bithynia. Written in the 1st century the oldest text of the Letter of Barnabas was found in an old church in Istanbul.

Early Church Father and martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, wrote letters to the earliest Christian communities in Anatolia at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Philadelphia, Smyrna. He also penned a personal letter to Polycarp of Smyrna which added to our understanding of early Christian beliefs and practices.

Polycarp, who heard the Apostle John speak, wrote a theological letter/epistle while in Smyrna and became famous since his martyrdom was one of the early churches’ oldest recorded scandalous events.

Papias of Hierapolis (Laodecia) possibly heard the Apostle John and was a friend of Polycarp.

Many others wrote from the Asia Minor region (Euphrates, Phrygia, Patara ( Mediterranean coast), and Sardis) during the earliest beginnings of the Church. The

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New Testament History

Just as ancient Anatolia plays a role in the Old Testament, it figures more in the New Testament. This region is sigificant for both Judaism and Christianity and is an important location regarding historical events.

Even the ancient language Aramaic, which Jesus spoke and is rooted in Old Testament times, is spoken in Turkey today.

Ancient regions that bleed over into New Testament times and found in Turkey are: Cilicia, Lycaonia, Cappadocia, Pontus, Pisidia, Galatia, Pamphylia, Phrygia, Bithynia, Lydia, Lycia, Mysia, and Thrace.

The Apostle Paul traveled zealously through these regions. He was a native of Anatolia in Tarsus and frequently visited Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Perge, Alexandria Troas, Ephesus, Miletus, Antioch of Pisidia, Attalia, and Assos. And these are only the major centers mentioned.

Tradition says that the Apostle John and Mary both lived in Ephesus and that John’s tomb is situated there now among the old church ruins. Although this cannot be proven, John’s address to the seven church congregations of Revelation (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea) indicates he had first hand knowledge of this area.

Tradition also has it that many of Jesus’ early followers were dispersed throughout the Anatolia region. Barnabas was from

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Old Testament History

Asiatic or Eastern Turkey is known as Anatolia and is as much associated with the Old Testament as New Testament history. The land in eastern Turkey is as old as time. Today the Tigris and Euphrates rivers originate from Turkey and were first named in relation to the “Garden of Eden.”

Mount Ararat is in the far eastern side of Turkey and is higher than any mountain in Europe.

Noah’s son’s sons trace their heritage and family names to areas in what is now Turkey. Japeth’s decendents that were in this region were Gomer, Gog, Magog, Madai, Mesech, Tiras, Javan, Tubal and Togarmah. Shem’s link to this area is found through Nahor, Terah, Abraham, Asshur, Aram, and Lud.

Ham’s lineage can also be traced to eastern Turkey through Cush, Heth and the Hittites, and Nimrod.

Many place names have faint resemblances to these figures and personalities today. The oldest known city in the world (Catal Hoyuk) is located just outside of ancient Iconium, today called Konya, in central Anatolia and dates to 6000 B.C. In this Mesopotamian region ancient stories, “Gilgemesh Epic;” ancient treaties, “Treaty of Kadesh;” and ancient legal codes owe their origins to this “cradle of civilizations.”


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