Tuesday, April 8 – Day 9
Following breakfast, we left our hotel here in Athens at 8 a.m. Our destination today: the southern part of Greece called the Peleponnesia. The entire morning (and early afternoon) was sunny and warm. Driving south out of Athens, we crossed the famous Corinthian Canal. Our first stop was Corinth. Paul spent 18 months here, and were helped in ministry by Aquilla and Priscilla (Acts 19). The pagan culture of this city of up to 250,000 would have presented a huge challenge to Paul in his ministry here. 14 temples once stood here, including the Temple of Apollo below and the Temple of Aphrodite on the mountaintop acropolis. We also saw the “bema” where Paul probably did some of his teaching as well as evidence of a synagogue (a 2nd c. AD capital with a menorah on it was found). We also snuck a peak at the un-restored theater (found in 1952) where there is an inscription of the man who built it – Erastus. Paul ministered to both Jew and Gentiles here.
From Corinth, we added the extra site of Mycenae, a huge site dating back to the 16th – 12th centuries, BC. This is where Costa, our guide, grew up. He told us stories of how he and his grandfather excavated in the area, finding some of the famous “shaft tombs.” Costa is the leading expert on Mycanae, once guiding Jackie Kennedy and George Bush, among other famous people. Costa has excavated here almost 40 years now.
At this impressive site located strategically only 8 miles from the Aegean Sea, we saw the Tomb of Agamemnon (12th century BC), the shaft tombs, the Lion’s Gate, and the citadel. We also briefly visited the museum. One theory is that the Mycenaeans were the “Sea Peoples” as mentioned by the ancient Egyptians and the “Philistines” as recorded in the Old Testament (the other theory is that the Minoans from Crete were the “Philistines.”).
Following a great lunch at Costa’s family restaurant in Mycenae, we drove back to the Athens airport. We arrived at around 5 p.m. and are now awaiting our flight to Rome at 7 p.m. We leave Greece with fond memories and with a myriad of new insights into the mission trips of Paul and the growth of the early church.
Wednesday, April 9 – Day 10
We plan to visit Florence, Italy, taking high-speed train from Rome. Should be a great day!