PISIDIAN ANTIOCH

In Part VII of my historical novel, The Epiphany of Marcus Apronius, the protagonist, Marcus Apronius, meets the Apostle Paul of Tarsus and is proselytized by him in Pisidian Antioch. Paul is on his First Missionary Journey with Barnabus as recounted in Acts 13:13-52.

In ancient times there were at least fifteen cities named Antioch but only two are famous in Christianity:  Pisidian Antioch in Asia Minor (Turkey) and Syrian Antioch (Antakya, Turkey) often called Antioch on the Orontes. The location of Pisidian Antioch was discovered in 1833 by British Chaplain Francis V. J. Arundell. In 1910, Sir William M. Ramsey began excavations that found the huge sanctuary of Men and other artifacts. In 1924, The University of Michigan worked on the site and made some important discoveries. To date, only a small portion of the city has actually been excavated.

Pisidian Antioch was founded by Seleucus Nicator in circa 300 B.C. and was assimilated into the Roman Empire in 25 B.C. when Augustus created the new province of Galatia. Antioch was located in the Phrygian section of Galatia and was given its Latin name, Colonia Caesarea Antiochia. By the time Paul visited the city it was populated by Greeks, Jews, Phrygians, and retired Roman army veterans given land by the Emperor. The resultant citizenry of Gentiles and Jews existed together in harmony and cordial respect. Unfortunately, the city was captured and destroyed by Arabs in the 8th century.

The present day ruins of the city lie on the banks of the River Anthios approximately a mile north of Yalvac, Turkey. It is identified by a Turkish sign reading, “Pisidia Antiokheia”. The ruins are not extensive and mainly consist of a Roman road, block foundations and thick walls, portions of a grand aqueduct, truncated columns, and short sections of temple friezes. Still unseen by modern man and undoubtedly laying beneath the ruins are coins, potsherds, shattered pieces of marble, and various architectural remnants of once magnificent buildings; all are archeological treasures still snug in their subterranean caches awaiting man’s discovery. This is all that remains of a once magnificent Roman city.

In the novel, Marcus, as a young boy, had experienced traumatic exposure to the person of Jesus by witnessing his crucifixion and later, while in the prison hospital on Nisiros island, had a dream in which Jesus talked to him about his “sheep” and directed him to visit a man named Paul in Pisidian Antioch. Despite those contacts, Marcus had no real knowledge of Jesus or his teachings. After his escape from Nisiros, I wanted him to learn about Jesus Christ and his teachings from an authority. That authority was Paul. Fortunately for my purposes, I could time Marcus’ escape from Nisiros to coincide almost perfectly with the time that Paul and Barnabus were actually in Pisidian Antioch according to Biblical Historians.

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