Biblical History of Turkey
Many people of faith don’t think Turkey as a land of Bible. Rather Israel is considered the Holy Land because it is the place where Abraham has lived and died. It was the promised land conquered by Joshua, and it was the kingdom ruled vy David and Solomon. There Jesus also lived and died and the church began in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. But after Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians and the temple destroyed in 586 BC, many Jews were dispersed outside of Israel a period called the Exile. Later Asia Minor/Anatolia (now Turkey) became home of numerous diaspora Jewish communities. A Hellenistic kingdom called the Selecuids settled 2000 Jewish families in Phyrigia and Lydia in 240 BC. Paul’s family was probably settled in Tarsus. A circular letter sent by consul Lucius recorded in 1 Maccabees 15:16-24, mentions numerous communities in Asla Minör with Jewish people. Although the archeogical remains of the three synagogues found in Turkey –Sardis, Prime, Andriace– all date after the 4c AD, after synagogues are known from the literary evidence. Within two decades of Jesus death the gospel spread northward to Antioch, a city located in southeastern Turkey. Here the believers were first called Christians. For the rest of the first century the land of Turkey became the center for the growing Christian movement.
The three great apostles –Paul, Peter, John– are all linked with churches in Asia Minor. As we look at the Bible, there are number if references to Anatolian regions and cities in the Old Testament and Apocrypha, and two-thirds of the twenty seven books in the New Testament were either written to or from Asia Minor. Because of this area’s strategic geographical role in the early church history, it is not an exaggeration to call Turkey ‘the Holy Land of Asian Minor’s as Frank Clark did in the title of his book on the Seven Churches.
A misperception that this Muslim country is potentially unsafe for travel has also prevented pilgrims from visiting this marvellous land. Fortunately this view has changed in recent years, and people of faith from around the world are now visiting Turkey in ever-increasing numbers. You are always welcomed as our guest in our country.