Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day Six - Corinth, Corinth Canal, Cenchrea

The ruins of ancient Corinth sitting amidst the new city.

In Corinth, Paul met Aquila and his wife Priscilla, who had been expelled from Rome by the emperor Claudius along with other Jews. At first, he worked in Corinth as a tent maker with Priscilla and Aquila, and spoke in the synagogue every Sabbath, addressing Jews and gentiles. When Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul in Corinth, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching to the Jews (Acts 18:1-5). The probable reason that Paul ceased working as a tent maker was that Timothy and Silas brought money to Paul from the Philippian church, so that Paul could now afford to proclaim the good news on a full time basis (2 Cor 11:8-9; Phil 4:15).

The first thing we did when we arrived at the ruins on this morning was to find a quiet shady spot at the back where Kay could teach. It was particularly cool and quiet and was quite the setting for Paul's letter to the Corinthians.

The first thing Kay does is to acclimate us to our surroundings and give us the background to what Paul was facing when he entered the city. Paul was told by God that he was to settle here and teach the gospel because the Lord had many in this city that He was going to bring to salvation. And that is why he stayed for 1 year and 6 months.

Kay taught on the grace that is ours because of the new covenant and the ministry of grace that each one of us are to have to finance the work of the gospel. God has ordained that men work not to build up treasures on earth but to finance the work of God (2 Cor. 8 & 9) And finally we saw grace which is power! It was a powerful message.
Lunch on the water's edge at the Corinth Canal (location not the name of the restaurant).

We were never short of good company for lunch and laughed a lot with Carol and Jim!! When we sat down they gave each of us a generous serving of moussaka and I thought great - a perfect lunch. Then came a greek salad - I thought, ok, seems backwards but Greece has the best Greek salad!!! Anyone surprised!! No?! But then came a plate of a half of a baked chicken, potatoes and rice!!! Oh my goodness, now this has gotten ridulous! And there was always dessert!! Oh, how they fed us and now you know the rest of the story - it's not the camera putting the lbs. on me!

The famous Corinth Canal, which separates the Peloponnese from mainland Greece, connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf. For a very interesting history and pictures of the canal being dug in 1893 go here:

We had crossed the far bridge earlier on our way to Corinth. Isn't the water beautiful. No trick photography here just clear blue water! Sadly, no boats made the way through the canal while we were lunching! It would have been quite the sight as I have seen pictures and there have been cruise ships that have been pulled through that you would have thought would have left paint along the sides of the canal! ;-)

The bridge that we are standing on that vehicles and pedestrians use to cross the canal at this point submerges when boats move through the canal. We were warned not to cross to the other side by our bus host so I have to assume that between a ship moving through and the bridge submerging can be a slow process!

After lunch we made a quick stop in Cenchrea as we were making our way back to Corinth. You can see some of the ancient ruins extending out in to the water.

Amidst the ruins is a public beach and fisherman. Our guide told us that swimmers ofter uncover artifacts!!

This is what is left of the harbor of Cenchrea.

"Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow." Acts 18:18

Back in the ruins of ancient Corinth.

Part of a pavement found near the theater which mentions "Erastus" who was the aedile of the city of Corinth. An "aedile" was in charge of the financial matters of the city — and was very wealthy. The pavement was laid about A.D. 50.

The New Testament book of Romans was written by Paul from Corinth to the church in Rome in the spring of A.D. 57. In Romans 16:13 Paul says that "Erastus, the city treasurer greets you . . . ." It is very probable that the "Erastus" mentioned in Romans is the very same person who is mentioned in this inscription.

The temple of Apollo. Today seven of its original thirty-eight Doric columns are still standing. They are about twenty-four feet tall and six feet in diameter.

This is located behind the museum at Corinth. It is a display of the different types of columns. There are three that we observed Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. I will not explain but since our picture and signs are not clear you can see the differences below.

Another view with a beautiful backdrop of the coast!

South of the Temple of Apollo is the main forum of Ancient Corinth. A row of shops bounds the forum at the far western end. East of the market is a series of small temples, and beyond is the forum's main plaza. A long line of shops runs lengthwise through the forum, dividing it into an upper (southern) and lower (northern) terrace, in the center of which is the bema (large podium), perhaps the very one where the Roman proconsul Gallio refused to act on accusations against St. Paul.

This is the central construction of the North-West shops. Only here the vault is preserved. This row of shops was constructed in the third century.

On the far wall is a plaque that reads BEMA.

At one point some Jews dragged Paul before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, at the location of the bêma. (Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia.) The charge against Paul was that he was promulgating an illegal religion, unlike Judaism, which was a religio licita (a permitted religion). Gallio dismissed the accusation against Paul as being merely a religious dispute among Jews (Acts 18:12-17). As a result, Sosthenes became the object of the anger of Paul's accusers: "And they all took hold of Sosthenes...and began beating him in front of the bêma. But Gallio was not concerned about any of these things" (18:17).

The stone laying on the broken pallet would approximate where Paul would have stood.

In this picture what you are seeing in the background is the remains of a Byzantine church!

Corinth had three fountains originating from local springs -the water of the Peirene fountain was thought to inspire poets. Over the centuries they became underground springs and today if you are very quiet you can still hear the water babbling from the spring.

The Greek historian Pausanias describes the Fountain of Peirene: "On leaving the market-place along the road to Lechaeum you come to a gateway, on which are two gilded chariots, one carrying Phaethon the son of Helius, the other Helius himself. A little farther away from the gateway, on the right as you go in, is a bronze Heracles. After this is the entrance to the water of Peirene. ... The spring is ornamented with white marble, and there have been made chambers like caves, out of which the water flows into an open-air well. It is pleasant to drink... Near Peirene are an image and a sacred enclosure of Apollo; in the latter is a painting of the exploit of Odysseus against the suitors.

Roman Corinth had advanced drainage and its baths were provided with public toilets having a flushing system. It appears that the Romans had a concept of decency which did not condemn the performing of certain natural functions in the presence of other members of the same sex.
In this picture you can see the drainage pipes but you will have to wait to Ephesus to see the arrangement of their public toilet system.

View of a lintel bearing the figure of a man in a boat. From the Roman Period. Note the hat on the helmsman, the steering rudder, and the swan's head at the stern of the boat.

The Lechaion road led to Lechao, the harbour on the Corinthian Gulf.

The center of Corinth was built inland and it was linked to the harbour by the Lechaion Road which in its initial section was flanked by columns and large buildings. The city had a second harbour on the Aegean Sea and goods were transferred from one to the other port through a trackway which in case of need, especially during wars, could also be used to haul ships.

Tony and I are standing on the Lechaion Road. From this vantage point you can see Acrocornith, the acropolis of ancient Cornith. The highest peak on this monolithic rock was the temple of Aphrodite. Here the temple prostitues lived and would periodically come down with the words "follow me" on their sandals to entice men back to the temple for a perverted form of worship. The city was known for luxury, pleasure and especially immorality and this was of particular concern to Paul in his letters to the Corinthians!

A fortress was also on the mountain. The one seen today was built in Byzantine times, upon ruins of the ancient one. The Upper Peirene Spring, mentioned by Pausanius, is still there. With its extensive fortifications and supply of spring water, the citadel was almost impregnable and key to the defense of Corinth.

A lintel with a Macedonian inscription. Do you think google translator could do it?

Votive offerings found near the Asklepieion at Corinth. These body parts are made from clay and were made to represent the diseased body part of their owners. The ones on display are the most tasteful ones the museum could display without offending the public. And out of the ones displayed Tony tried to take the least repugnant of those. Because Corinth was a bastion of sexual immorallity, sexually transmitted diseases were rampant. The afflicted would take the copy of the diseased body part to the temple of Asklepieion and bury it as an offering for healing. The body parts not on display fills an entire room!!

Asklepios was a deified Greek physician.

Although no synagogue has been found in Corinth, this inscription seems to be the lintel of a doorway of an ancient synagogue. The inscription is crudely carved into a large limestone block. It was found on the Lechaion Road.

Written in Greek, it reads ". . . GOGE EBR . . ." = [SYNA]GOGE EBR[AION] — which can be translated as "Synagogue of the Hebrews [= Jews]." It probably dates to the fifth century A.D. and is evidence of a Jewish population in Corinth at that time. The book of Acts (18:4–17) gives evidence of Paul preaching in the synagogue of Corinth in his day and even mentions leaders of the synagogue such as Crispus and Sosthenes

Byzantine bas-relief inside the museum.

View of a large mosaic floor from a Roman villa. Second century A.D. In the center is a head of Dionysus (the god of entertainment/wine; or Medusa?) who has fruit and ivy in his hair. Note the vases in each of the four corners with ivy flowing from them.

A mosaic depicting a piping herdsman from the floor of a Roman villa dated to the second century A.D.

More pottery unearthed within the ancient city of Corinth. (If you're bored think of all the pictures I haven't included!!) When you consider the number of earthquakes and wars it is amazing the amount and quality of antiquities that have been found!

Corinthian amphora with a lid . It bears a representation of two heraldic cocks and a double palmette at the centre. Dated to ca. 600 B.C. (Piece located on the top shelf)

As we headed for the bus, we took one last look out across the theatre to the coast.

Back at the hotel, we say goodbye to our bus driver! He was incredible!! I never knew buses could drive though such narrow streets nor park in such tiny spots! He was ever gracious and helpful though he spoke NO English!! Tomorrow we will be transferring by a different bus to the ship!


  1. Hi Judy, I'm Esther Tan, from Malaysia. I was just googling Corinthians when I came about your very interesting and informative blog. I have been reading parts of it, especially this particular one on the ancient city of Corinth. I am a student at the seminary here in this country, and I am right now doing a course on 1 Corinthians. I appreciate very much the pictures you have posted, and would like to thank you gratefully for helping me add to my knowledge on the background of the Book of Corinthians. :)

  2. Hi Judy:

    I'm writing to you from InterVarsity Press in Illinois, and I'm wondering if you'd be willing to let us use one of your photos from this blog in an upcoming book on Corinthians by Ben Witherington III. If so, we'd like to use an image of the bema in the forum. Please contact me if you are able at ewhittenhall (at) ivpress (dot) com. Thanks! Elaina