Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ancient Corinth

On Monday, we had to head down to Athens to take care of some business. Personally, I am not a big fan of Athens, so I had to look for some way to redeem the trip. I found it in making a day trip over to Corinth on Tuesday.

As I may or may not have mentioned, my dissertation is on leadership in the first-century church in Corinth, so for me this was an important trip. We'd never been anywhere in the south of Greece besides Athens, and we'd love to some day have time to explore the Peloponnese.

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Anyway, we hopped on the train in Athens and we were in modern Corinth after only an hour and 15 minutes. From there, we split a cab with a nice couple we met from the Czech Republic and headed over to ancient Corinth, a few kilometers away. This area is dominated by the ruins of the old city, but a very small modern village with lots of restaurants and cafes well as--of course--a church, surrounds it.

The weather was perfect and we spent several hours wandering through the ruins, imagining what St. Paul might have seen when he first arrived around 51 AD.

The top photo is of the ruins of the Temple of Apollo. The second photo is of the various levels of ruins from the east side of the famous Lechaion Road. The third photo is of the road itself, which connected Corinth with its port about 3 km to the north.

The fourth photo is particularly interesting, at least for me. This is a photo of the city's theatre. In the foreground, you can see an inscription. It says, in effect, that a city official named Erastus paid for this area in front of the theatre to be paved. I was interested to note that it is by far the largest and most noticeable inscription among the many that one can see among the ruins. This is all significant because there is a long-standing debate as to whether this is the same Erastus Paul mentions at the end of his letter to the Romans, which the Apostle wrote from Corinth: "Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer, and our brother Quartus, greet you" (16:23). (The name "Erastus," possibly the same person, is also mentioned in Acts 19:22 and 2 Timothy 4:20.)

For all the photos from the day, click here.

We met our friends from the Czech Republic again in the little museum and agreed again to split a cab up to Acrocorinth, the ancient fortress which sits perched on top of the mountain overlooking the isthmus. You can see it on the top of the mountain, on the left, in the backgrounds of the the last two photos. But more on that tomorrow...

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