Govier in CT: Excavations in Turkey

The earthquake in eastern Turkey prompts Gordon Govier to look at the country’s relationship with foreign archaeological expeditions in Christianity Today. Sites mentioned include Antioch of Pisidia, Colossae, Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Tel Tayinat. He also provides some statistics.

[Mark] Wilson said that in 1990, the total number of excavations was 38. Last year more than 200 excavations took place, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
However, Hurriyet reports that the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry has begun cancelling excavation permits for some foreign archaeologists and turning the permits over to Turkish archaeologists. Ministry head Ertuğrul Günay said many foreigners simply weren’t in the country enough. “If they don’t work on it, they should hand it over.”
“The government’s goal is to have universities in each of Turkey’s provinces, and an archaeology department in each of these universities,” said Wilson. This means the number of archaeologists is expanding rapidly. Foreign archeologists now run less than 25 percent of Turkey’s 200 current digs.

One statistic that I doubt is Wilson’s claim that “two-thirds of the New Testament was written either in Turkey or to churches or people in Turkey.” I count 1 long (Revelation) and 7 short books written primarily to people in Turkey (Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1-2 Timothy, Philemon, 1-2 Peter). I count 1 book likely written from Turkey (1 Corinthians). If one includes John’s other four books (the gospel and 1-3 John), that boosts the word count considerably. But without the three longest books in the NT (Matthew, Luke, Acts), as well as the longer letters of Romans and 2 Corinthians, I think the truth may be closer to one-third.

Read the whole article here.

UPDATE: Using word counts from the Greek New Testament (NA27) compiled here, I’ve determined that using the most generous collection listed above (13 books), 34.1% of the NT was written to/from a site in Turkey.

HT: A.D. Riddle


5 thoughts on “Govier in CT: Excavations in Turkey

  1. It would be nice if all the NT books came with copyright info pages.

    Many people believe Matthew may have been written in Antioch, now in modern Turkey. Other believe that as Luke was probably from Turkey (I agree), that he could have written his gospel and Acts in Turkey (possible IMHO, but hard to prove).

    I'd count all John's works (even if Patmos is Greek today, it was Asia Minor then). That gets you pretty close to 2/3rds.

  2. PS–It does seem that some of the excavations that are being done by Turks are moving much faster. I saw some great work being done in Pisidian Antioch last year, where no work had been done for decades.

    This may force some westerners to get off their rumps and dig. Now if they can get them to publish results in a timely manner.

  3. Al – I counted all of John's works in the 1/3 calculation. I do find it interesting that you want to include Patmos in Turkey, though it's not by modern borders, as well as Antioch, which is today but certainly belonged to Syria back then. I could concede Matthew, but not Luke-Acts. Luke likely wrote these works while accompanying Paul, particularly during his imprisonments in Caesarea and Rome.

    Including Matthew bumps the count to 47%.

    The point of all of this is whether Turkey is biblical significant and the answer is emphatically yes, whether the number is 34% or 66%.

    PS–Fast excavations are probably bad, especially by those motivated to increase tourism.

  4. Well…consider that both Luke and Paul came from what is now modern Turkey. That should count for something.

    >PS–Fast excavations are probably bad, especially by those motivated to increase tourism.

    Let us hope there is a happy medium. I have to say, I was impressed with the woman (yes, women) who was running the Pisidian Antioch dig–but I have not the expertise to know how well it was being run.

  5. Using House's "Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament," pp. 16-17 (Based upon Gundry's "Survey of the NT" – 15 (maybe 16 if James is included) of the 27 were written to/from places in Asia Minor (= 55%).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *