Of all the place names in the New Testament, 60% are located in what is today modern Turkey. The Aegean coast of Turkey was once the Roman province of Asia, which was Rome’s most important province. In the narrative of Acts, Paul travels through central Anatolia and Asia. In Ephesus, the capitol city of Asia, Paul receives a delegation from at least one church in Corinth. From Ephesus, he writes his letters to the Corinthians. The level of preservation of Turkey’s archaeological sites surpasses those in Greece and Israel, so through our journeys there, we gain extraordinary insight into the material culture of the New Testament world.
Not only is Turkey an important destination for learning about Paul, his world and his mission, the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation were also located in the Roman province of Asia. John, the author of Revelation, was either from the island of Patmos off Turkey’s Aegean coast, or happened to have been there when he was writing what is now the New Testament’s last book. The traditions associated with the author of Revelation and the other Johannine texts are easily explored there.
Early Christianity developed and flourished in what became Turkey. The great ecumenical councils were held in Turkey. Early Christians left an extraordinary legacy in the form of ancient and Medieval churches. Today, Turkey is an Islamic nation with distinctive ways of observing Islamic traditions. A journey there is an excellent way to come to a deeper understanding of Islam and its encounter with Christianity.