Sinope — a Church of 1 Peter in Northern Turkey?

At the beginning of 1 Peter we read:

577_SinopePeter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with his blood: May grace and peace be yours in abundance . . . .  —  1 Peter 1:1-2 (NRSV)

Bithynia, Paphlagonia, and Pontus were regions along the southern shore of the Black Sea that were merged into the Roman senatorial province of Bithyna et Pontus.  Jews from this region were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:9) and on Paul’s Second Journey Paul, Silas, and Timothy “… attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (Acts 16:7).

From 1 Peter 1:1 we learn that Peter addressed Jewish believers in this province as he wrote his epistle and it is probable the Silvanus carried the letter to churches in the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 5:4).

Sinope was a major city in this area and “. . . was a certain stop in Pontus for the messenger carrying Peter’s first letter” (Wilson p. 342).

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Tower and Wall Guarding the Entrance to the Sinope Peninsula
Click on Image to Enlarge

This tower and wall guarded the narrow entrance point into the peninsula.  The walls probably date back to the 4th century B.C. and were frequently refurbished.  They are 1.3 mi. (2 km.) long and over 80 ft. (25 m.) tall.  There are many towers and seven gates.

To view additional images of Sinope Click Here.

TNCSNCT03A modern statue of the Cynic philosopher Diogenes is located at the entrance to Sinope.  Diogenes was born in Sinope in 412 B.C. (or 404) and died in Corinth in 323 B.C. (the same year Alexander the Great died).

The barrel that he is standing on reminds one of the clay pot that he is reported to have lived in in the agora in Athens.  He is said to have gone about Athens in the daylight with a lamp in his hand looking for “an honest man.”  Because of his unusual behavior he was nicknamed the dog (note the pooch by his right foot)!  In Greek, the name Cynics is related to the Greek word for “dog.”

It is reported that when Alexander the Great said to him “Ask of me anything you like,” Diogenes replied “Stand aside, you’re in my light.”

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Two Sailing Ships on a Sarcophagus
These may be the type of boats that the Apostle Paul Sailed On
Click on Image to Enlarge

At Sinope there is also a wonderful museum.  One of the highlights in the museum is a sarcophagus that has a sailing ship and its “dinghy” engraved in bas relief.  On the other hand, the small vessel, with a sail(!), may not be in tow (note its own billowing sail), but rather another sailboat that is being depicted as being in the distance—and thus is smaller than the nearer vessel.

The Apostle Paul, and companions, may have sailed on such vessels.  On the large ship note the steering oars at the stern, the billowing main sail, and what looks like a jib near the bow of the boat.  Even the guy-lines are visible in the image.

An inscription on the sarcophagus reads: “Cornelius Arrianus is lying here.  His age is 60.”

As usual(!) Mark Wilson provides an excellent summary of the history of Sinope in his Biblical Turkey — A Guide to the Jewish and Christian Sites of Asia Minor.  Istanbul: Yayinlari, 2010, pp. 341–345.

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One response to “Sinope — a Church of 1 Peter in Northern Turkey?

  1. As always, great information, and thanks for your kind words about my book!

    Dr. Mark Wilson

    Asia Minor Research Center

    Antalya, Turkey

    Cell/Cep 0537 984 88 71

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