They said it was the City of satan – Pergamon: A closer look

The “City of satan”? Or… “satan’s throne”?

Telephus Frieze

Right along the Turkish coast are these ruins of an ancient city that is mentioned by Jesus in the Book of Revelation – they are known as Pergamon (or Pergamum). Some of the ruins do remain in place; however, many of them were shipped over to Germany to Berlin’s Pergamon Museum. The greatness of this city rivaled the great Alexandria, Ephesus, and even Antioch. Pilgrims from all over the Mediterranean region would engage in this city – especially having trade routes (because they were so close to sea and had plenty of land routes).

One of the key people there, who was mentioned in Revelation 2 was Saint Antipas (or called Antipas of Pergamum). Revelation 2:13 says, “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”

Did you catch that? ‘Where satan’s seat is…’ That’s right, which Jesus said, to see that one of the faithful there was true to Jesus even until the end. He was reportedly a disciple of the Apostle John, being ordained during the reign of Roman Emperor Domitian. Antipas eventually fell to martyrdom during the reign of Nero.

The city of Pergamon was a city of much idolatry, especially those worshiping demons. There was a structure there, which was the Great Altar of Pergamon – what some people have labeled/nicknamed as “satan’s throne.” Such structure has survived without being in too much of ruins. Many of the monuments and buildings from that time have survived in the Berlin museum mentioned earlier, which included its high quality white marble builds from the Hellenistic artistry, and the fame library and unbelievable publications from several physicians.

The believed or supposed destruction of Pergamon had come about as before 323 BC, they were known very little, but when Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, the prominence of this quaint place of Pergamon rose. Attalid kings who ruled the kingdom made the trading routes more secure and bountiful, which increased the wealth and power of this city, even after being annexed by Rome in 133 BC – therein becoming part of the Roman Empire.

As we have seen in the Book of Revelation, John relays a message from Christ to the Seven Churches, which are unsurprisingly all within Modern Day Turkey (did you know Turkey controlled all of those territories?). The Christians in Pergamon were praised for being faithful to Christ even while dwelling around satan’s throne.

Paul referenced many people in such regions, in 1 Corinthians 10:20, that the Greeks and Romans were pagans that were sacrificing to demons, not to gods. In the Book of Revelation and also in Mark 3:22-27, satan is known as the chief of the fallen angels, which corresponds to Zeus, the so called ruler of the gods. Nonetheless, such “throne of satan” is a false throne, one that was exalted, but we know that only God’s Throne shall reign eternally!

References:

  • Adela Yarbro Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (Harvard Dissertations in Religion 9; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press for the Harvard Theological Review, 1976; reprinted Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2001), pp. 176–190.
  • Collins, Adela Yarbro. “Satan’s Throne,” Biblical Archaeology Review 32.3 (2006): 27–31, 33–34, 36–39.
  • Martin J. Mulder, “God of Fortresses,” in Karel van der Toorn et al., eds., Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (Leiden: Brill, 1995), p. 700.

Actual Evidence Jonah Bible Study with Archaeology of Nineveh

Aquileia Basilica of Jonah Swallowed by the Serpent – CC-BY-SA of Yukio Sanjo

During the reign of Jeroboam II for the Israel side of the divided kingdoms, and during the reign of Amaziah on the Judah side – there was a prophet named Jonah. He was a disobedient man of God until the adversity he faced resulted in proper action and obedience.

While we won’t be posting the entire Scripture of Jonah due to its length, please read the Book of Jonah when you have a chance. We review Jonah below…

The Book of Jonah, written by Jonah around 760 BC, was about a prophet named Jonah who was to preach about God to the Ninevites during the reign of Jeroboam II. The book talks about the journey of Jonah being called, his disobedience, swallowing by the fish, doing God’s work, and the lesson he learned about God’s mercy.

God had called Jonah to warn the sinful people of Nineveh of a coming judgment (because they were unrepentant). However, Jonah decided to be disobedient and flee away from the place, and went into the opposite direction. God, then, because of the disobedience, wanted Jonah to come back, so He sent a storm that threatened to sink Jonah’s ship. Therefore, Jonah’s men decided to pray to their gods and wanted him to do the same. However, Jonah didn’t see much change in this, and therefore, Jonah didn’t pray. Soon, Jonah had realized this could be God’s judgment for his disobedience, and therefore, he confessed his sin before God. Jonah was so repentant in this situation, that his men started acknowledging God. However, they decided nothing else would save them, so they threw Jonah overboard. God had a great plan then and sent a great fish to swallow Jonah to save Jonah from drowning.

Now in the belly of the fish, Jonah awoke and began a psalm of thanksgiving for the salvation of his life by God. After that, he felt his life was in danger, because he sunk so deeply into the fish, however, then God had saved him from the fish entirely. Therefore, after this, God commanded him again to go and preach unto the Ninevites, for the Ninevites had to repent. Jonah obeyed God this time around. The message from God was that the Ninevites would be overthrown within forty days. Jonah then preached this unto them, and they came to repentance to God because of the warning. Because of their repentance, God did not destroy them after all.

God was teaching Jonah a lesson through all this, not only about his disobedience, but also about God’s mercy – for God was indeed a loving God, but also just. Humans through history have completely misunderstood God, and until the coming of Jesus Christ, haven’t understood God’s loving and merciful nature. People still misunderstand God, but thankfully, God is still revealing Himself through His Word, everyday situations, and the Holy Spirit. Anyway, Jonah was afraid to preach in Nineveh, because of the potential destruction coming unto them, but God wanted Jonah to know that there was nothing to be afraid of or angry at – for if he were to preach in Nineveh, they might listen and heed the warning. This caused Jonah to realize that God wanted Jonah to be the carrier of His Message so that Nineveh could be saved – for God’s Message was one of salvation, not of doom. God always expresses messages of salvation and love, not of doom and misfortune. He only wants the best for people, and therefore, He thought the same of the Ninevites, just as the other nations: they can be saved if they will repent.

Jonah was thankful overall for God’s salvation and had realized God’s mercy, and repentant for his disobedience. People in their ignorance can face destruction for their unrepentant and disobedient hearts. Jonah did not want to be one of these people, so God gave Jonah a mission, he declined and faced near destruction – to which, he repented and received God’s mercy. This became his testimony, therefore, he could now go and minister unto people that they need to repent, because God is merciful and saved him – and therefore, he would save the Ninevites after all, if they repented.

Archaeological and Historical Evidence

The connection between archaeology and this book have been quite difficult, and some of the different themed literature, such as the Akkadian Hymn to Shamash, describes the troublesome predicaments of different sailors. One of the most dangerous jobs in the world is to be a fisher, because of the risks of harsh seas, capsizing, boat accidents/damage, and other various issues. Research in texts such as Ugarit describe Yam, the Ugaritic god of the sea, as a dragon with a fish tail.

We also see in the Mesopotamian Descent of Inanna speaks of Inanna’s bemoaning, that if she were to stay in the belly of the fish for three more days, then lamenting shall begin. Other than that, fifth century BC texts from Greek historian, Herodotus, describe the Persian custom of slicing off horses’ manes as a mourning procedure, similar to how fasting was done in the lamentation process of funerals in this time in Greek history.

Due to the difficulty of the historicity of this era, we have emerging evidence, however. We layer the detail line-by-line below to describe each archaeological find. Any questions, please post in the comments…

Tarshish: The location of this city or region has yet to be identified as certain. Although, we do see it in Genesis 10:4, so its use in Jonah is not mistaken, because it was near Kittim, which we can traditionally identify with Cyprus. Antiquity remarks that it was quite distant from Israel—which is already remarked in First Kings 10:22. Of course, Jehoshaphat built ships at Ezion-geber in the Red Sea to travel to Tarshish. Yet another clue to the puzzle. Here’s where it is interesting and conclusive: It is likely Tarshish was a port just as Joppa was. This evidence is next in the discovery, we only need a few more clues.

The great fish: As said earlier, it was possible this was of a Ulgaritic god, the sea god Yam, which is depicted in various boundary stones uncovered regarding giant fish. Since it appears a giant fish swallowed up Jonah, we see the Christian historical text; however, Baal believers thought confidently and asserted it was actually the sea god Yam that swallowed up Jonah. See Job 38:17 and Isaiah 38:10 for more info on this idolatry.

Nineveh: This was situated, according to the mapping atlas available, between the Tigris and Khoser Rivers (as we see this is located near modern-day Mosul, Iraq). As we see in Genesis 10:11, Nimrod created Nineveh and ruled it. The rule of Nineveh later was attributed to the Assyrians, as it shows in the Assyrian Empiric history of 1420-609 BC. The great revival of Assyrian power occurred in and around 1000 BC. Nineveh had become a royal city, which was before Jonah’s time (c. 760 BC). The library of King Assurbanipal is found around the area where Nineveh was (Ezra 4:10 remarks similar finds) – and this discovery was around the reflection of how Nineveh operated just after Jonah’s time (this find dated around 669-627 BC). What we do know as well, is that the literature from Assyrian archives confirm these finds as well as the city being quite large, so the number of about 120,000 people seems correct. Modern surveys also confirmed this in comparison, because of the size of this city. (See Bob Harper’s “Assyrian and Babylonian Literature” of 1901 from D. Appleton – and Marcus Parker’s “Ulgaritic Narrative Poetry. Writings from the Ancient World” and Dennis Pardee’s “Ritual and Cult at Ugarit. Writings from the Ancient World” from Atlanta Society of Biblical Literature).

Donald J Wiseman contended once that there is sufficient evidence historically describing a large repentance of Ninevites in response to Jonah’s prophetic utterings (see Jonah 3:4). A list of events leading to Nineveh’s Repentance was marked for around 758 BC, and are dated as follows:

  • 787 BC: Monotheistic worship of the god Nabu began
  • 765 BC: Assyrian plague began
  • 763 BC: Asshur city revolt began and a solar eclipse erupted
  • 762 BC: Asshur revolt again
  • 761 BC: Arrapha city revolt
  • 760 BC: Arrapha revolt again; Jonah begins prophetic work
  • 759 BC: Another plague erupts
  • 758 BC: A repentance begins in the land (in response to Jonah’s obedience in prophetic utterance)
Art from antiquity: Inside the Huqoq Synagogue, there are mosaics depicting Jonah’s journey, being swallowed by the great fish, and the wars and scenery from the Ninevite time. The Huqoq Synagogue sits near Capernaum to the west, and Northwest of the Sea of Galilee. Architectural fragments are found just outside of Huqoq city, and Joshua 19:34 mentions Huqoq as a village apportioned to the Tribe of Naphtali – meaning this is a Jewish village. (Reference: Journal of Roman Archaeology 27 (2014), pp. 327-355). There are different workings of art related to this story of Jonah, including the similar depiction of Jonah being swallowed by a serpent in Aquileia’s church in Italy.

This evidence is not exhaustive and does not represent all of the possibilities in verifying Jonah’s prophetic work, but what we do have is evidence that the Ninevites repented due to a prophecy by an obedient man of God. This is important, because it was able to release the Ninevites from corruption at that time.

Jesus Appearance to Mary and the Disciples – [Archaeological Guide]

When some people think of Jesus appearing to different people… {Mary Magdalene, Peter, two disciples on the Road to Emmaus, and all other disciples except Thomas}

Some think Jesus was a ghost when He appeared to those people. After all, if someone who was purportedly killed on the brutal cross and was placed in a tomb with a huge boulder—of course, people would think a ghost has appeared.

Then, what happened? Jesus said to them… “Be not afraid.” Now, let us explore…

First, it’s not “Easter.” Acts 12:4, “And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.” The usage of “Easter” in this sentence is a poor translation, because the original Greek word is transliterated, “pascha,” or in what we know as “Passover.”

We will read today in two Scriptures. Let us begin with the first one in Matthew 28:1-13

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail.

And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.”

Now, we shall read in John 20:1-31

“The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.

Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

What we have read then, is that early in the morning of [Easter Sunday] the Resurrection Day, women went to the tomb to find that the stone that kept the tomb closed was removed, to which the Angel of the Lord told them that Jesus was actually alive (the women thought the angel was a young man, as he had appeared youthful to them). However, the angel was an angelic being embodied as a human to defer suspicion they had seen a foreign being. Soon, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene in the garden, and then to Peter, and finally to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. Later that day, He appeared to all disciples except for “doubting Thomas.” After eight days, Thomas was able to palpate Jesus’ wounded areas, and believe for himself that Jesus was alive. It was clear from this evidence Jesus was not a ghost, but He was a materialized being; God in Christ in an immortal human body form.

Has Jesus appeared to you yet? Has He made His Presence known through your life? If He has not, then it is a fine time to ask Him to do so. Are you a believer? Do you believe Jesus died and then rose again to redeem us of our sins (wrongdoings)? If you believe, you shall receive eternal life and shall never die.

Now, we shall dive into some interesting things of these two bands of Scripture. In order according, here is how Jesus was seen when we resurrected: The Angel first, the women second, and the disciples last. What is most striking is that The Father (GOD) gave all power to the Son after He achieved redemption, which had been equally His with the Father and Holy Spirit before becoming a man – it’s just that His Power was limited in Jesus while being a “mortal man.” However, after resurrecting into an immortal body (which believers shall do in the future – HALLELUJAH!), He gained all glorious power back (*See also Luke 2:40, 52; Philippians 2:7; John 8:28; 17:5; Ephesians 1:20-23; Colossians 1:15-18).

Archaeological and Historical Data

The data available for John 20 is that first they were found in Magdala (where Mary Magdalene is found – given “Magdalene” refers to where this Mary is from, to distinguish between the other ‘Marys’ Jesus was familiar with). Magdala appears to have been a fishing town on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. Extensive remains have been found here since 2009, where a seawall, a large harbor, and docks had been excavated. The first century boat of Jesus was discovered offshore just to the north – Josephus mentions a hippodrome. A well-planned city was unearthed in this area also, with many amenities, which was probably related to Herod Antipas’s Galilean territory, complete with a synagogue of mosaics including Jewish symbols. Jesus may have known of this, as Jesus foretold a destruction coming upon those who did evil against Him. This area of the Galilean territory was destroyed in AD 68, just a couple years before the complete destruction, especially on Titus’ hands, was completed.

The marks that Thomas had allegedly palpated were probable, as archaeological finds had shown in the Roman area of a heel bone with a stake embedded in it, which was found at Givat Hamivtar near Jerusalem.

For the tombs, there were a few different portions to the excavated tombs from the 1,000 or more that were investigated… It was fact that in these tombs were several burial chambers: a loculi (burial niches), a cut in the side walls to place the body of the deceased, and arcosolia (arched niches), where ossuaries (which were chests for bones – and no not canopic jars for their organs) were placed within. However, a few of the tombs only had one burial chamber, where a rolling stone would close off – this was fact, and it seems Jesus was placed in one of the “luxury tombs”. This would be consistent with the idea that Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man, and was consulted for the tomb he could provide for Jesus’ body (see Matthew 27:57). Because of these clues, we are able to truly note the Scripture is not dubious on proclaiming these details of the Resurrection – which makes the Resurrection more of a fact.

Sadducees opposed the concept of resurrection of the dead, while Pharisees were okay with it. Some Jewish literature had anticipated a general resurrection of the dead, such as the claim “God makest the dead alive” found in Shemoneh ‘Esreh. All four Gospels assert a complete resurrection of Jesus into an immortal body, and even Paul was completely convinced of this resurrection, even though Jesus did not appear to him except in the vision on the Road to Damascus (see 1 Corinthians 15). In the first century Greco-Roman world, however, most people did not believe in life after death. With Judas Maccabeus recognizing some of his dead soldiers were secret idol worshipers, he noted only a few believed in life after death. This was likely their potentially reasonable belief of life after death – which many people who were spiritual seemed to believe in life after death, because of their out of body experiences. However, paganism was rampant in these days (not as much nowadays, even so prevalent nonetheless).

Keep in mind, until the 20th century AD, the crucifixion did not have any evidence whatsoever. UNBELIEVABLE! The heel bone with the embedded stake revealed an evidence of Roman crucifixion along with other burial remains in different Roman tombs. The nail was 4.5 inches long. It appeared in the archaeological find that ropes must have been used to secure the arms instead of stakes. Josephus had observed people were crucified in different positions, such as Peter being noted for crucified upside down. It is possible this is the case, but again, the evidence is severely limited. However, the texts uncovered from Jewish and Roman laws noted the following information:

  • Those executed by hanging on a tree shall be properly entombed (Deuteronomy 21:22-23; John 19:31)
  • The body being placed in the proper designated area for executed criminals (Sanhedrin text 6:5-6)
  • Jesus was executed by Roman authorities, so He was subject to their law regarding it; therefore, Joseph of Arimathea (a member of the Sanhedrin) went to Pilate to request a Jewish burial for Jesus (oh how noble of Joseph to recognize Jesus’ Jewish roots!!!), which is consistent with the evidence found for crucifixions, burials, and resurrections in all ancient literature from the Greco-Roman era and Jewish seminar.

Therefore, prophecy was fulfilled for Jesus’ burial according to Jewish Law (Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-55; John 19:38-42; 1 Corinthians 15:4). The only other ones to receive this form of luxury treatment were powerful rulers and leaders, such as the evidence of burial luxury for Queen Helena of Adiabene, the family tomb of King Herod of Jerusalem and his nearby family’s tomb, and another one located in the upper Kidron Valley. Isaiah 53:9 was correct then, if the information found is revealed evidence of this tomb resurrection. Our hope continues to lie within the revealed evidence supporting the faith of us. We are so grateful for these archaeological finds – although imperfect are those finds, they are still clues that build our faith. Keep following me… We have more to explore.