Archaeology and the Cities of Paul’s First Missionary Journey Part II: Pisidian Antioch and Gospel Penetration of the Greek World -- By: Merrill F. Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:469 (Jan 1961)
Article: Archaeology and the Cities of Paul’s First Missionary Journey Part II: Pisidian Antioch and Gospel Penetration of the Greek World
Author: Merrill F. Unger


Archaeology and the Cities of Paul’s First Missionary Journey
Part II:
Pisidian Antioch and Gospel Penetration of the Greek World

Merrill F. Unger

[Editor’s Note: This article is the second in a series of three on the general subject, “Archaeology and the Cities of Paul’s First Missionary Journey.”]

When Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they headed for Asia Minor. Crossing the 180 miles of water, they landed on the shores of the Pamphylian Sea, apparently not at Attalia, from which, however, they embarked on their return trip to Antioch (Acts 14:25). On the west of them was Lycia, on the east Cilicia, to the north lay the mountainous opening to the heart of Asia Minor, the gateway to Europe and the Western World.

For a millennium after Alexander the Great’s conquests Asia Minor, the land bridge between Oriental and Occidental cultures, was a strategic part of the Greek world. Hellenistic civilization had absorbed its older non-Greek population. Hittites, Celts, Armenians, Carians, Lydians, and others were prepared by Greek culture for the coming of Christianity through the intrepid missionaries of the cross, Paul and Barnabas.

1. Perga, stepping-stone to Pisidian Antioch. Paul’s and Barnabas’ first objective was Perga, which was not directly on the sea, but some nine miles from the coastal city of Attalia and the mouth of the Cestros River. It was the chief city of Pamphylia and had its own port on the right bank of the Cestros River, where the missionaries landed. It was in the fever-infested coastal region and the center of the worship of the Asiatic nature goddess Artemis, “the queen of Perga.” Frequently this deity, corresponding to Diana (Artemis) of the Ephesians (Acts 19:27), is represented on the coins of Perga1 as a huntress, with bow in hand and stags at her side. These coins, attesting the independence and importance of the city, were minted from the second century B.C. until the third century A.D., and refer to Perga as a metropolis.

The ruins of Perga, now called Murtana, are distinguished for their completeness. Scarcely any other city Paul visited

has been better preserved, looking like a place inhabited or recently abandoned. The walls, tower-flanked, show the city to have been quadrangular-shaped. Broad streets intersecting each other divided the town into quarters. From the southern gate a street flanked with porticoes leads up to the center of the citadel.

At a higher elevation was the acropolis. Here the earlies...

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