The ancient Romans created perhaps the most influential society in recorded history. There would be no Western civilization without the Romans, nor would there be any religion called Christianity. The path of history would have been vastly different if not for the Romans.
This educational trip will explore the social, political, economic, religious, and artistic climate of the early Roman Empire, focusing especially (though not exclusively) on its relevance for understanding the life and ministry of the apostle Paul and the rise of Christianity.
The trip consists of three discrete segments—Italy, Greece, and Turkey—that can be done individually or together. Instruction will be provided by two professional scholars who will travel with the tour group (see below), together with occasional input from trained local tour guides. On-site instruction will be supplemented by reading assignments that will be distributed before and during the trip in order to help participants understand what they are seeing.
The trip is open to people of all ages, though anyone who has mobility problems should pay careful attention to the materials on the FAQ page concerning the physical demands of the trip. Academic credit is available for undergraduate and graduate students who complete a series of reading and writing assignments with one of the instructors.
OPTION 1: ITALY (JUNE 16-22)
Those who wish to begin the tour in Italy will leave their home country on June 16 and arrive in Rome on June 17. The educational program will begin on June 18 with visits to Ostia Antica, the port of ancient Rome, and Isola Sacra, an ancient Roman burial ground. The next day will be spent touring the excavations of the renowned city of Pompeii. On June 20, the group will visit the Villa Regina, an ancient Roman country house, and the ruined city of Herculaneum, which like Pompeii was buried under the mountain of ash that emerged from Mt. Vesuvius when it erupted in 79 AD. The last two days of the trip will be spent exploring the ruins of ancient Rome. Those who wish to continue with the group to Greece will fly together to Athens on June 22, while those who would like to conclude their trip here will fly home.
OPTION 2: GREECE (JUNE 21-25)
Those who wish to join the trip in Greece will depart from their home country on June 21 and arrive in Athens on June 22. Here they will meet up with the group flying in from Rome. The educational program will begin on June 23 with a walking tour of the ancient Athenian acropolis (including the Parthenon) and agora (civic center), with side trips to the National Archaeological Museum and the Acropolis Museum. The next day will be spent on the road, with stops at Cenchreae, the port of ancient Athens; Eleusis, the site of the ancient mystery rites of the goddess Demeter; Epidauros, the home of a famous healing center dedicated to the god Asklepios; and Corinth, a Roman colony in which the apostle Paul lived and worked and to which he wrote several letters. The final day will be devoted to a trip to Delphi, the site of the renowned Oracle of Delphi that was consulted by people from throughout the Greek and Roman world. Participants who wish to end their travels here will fly home on June 25, while the others will fly together that evening to Istanbul, Turkey.
OPTION 3: TURKEY (JUNE 24-JULY 5)
Those who wish to join the trip in Turkey will leave their home country on June 24 and arrive in Istanbul on June 25, where they will meet up with the group flying in from Athens. The educational program will begin on June 26 with a walking tour of historic sites in Istanbul (ancient Constantinople), including the famous Istanbul Archaeological Museum. On June 27, the group will travel south to visit the site of ancient Troy and the ruins of Alexandria Troas, a city where the apostle Paul stayed during the course of his travels, ending the day at Assos, an ancient port city that Paul also visited. From there the trip will continue southward to the magnificent ruins of the city of Pergamum (mentioned in the book of Revelation), followed by two days touring important sites on the southwestern coast of Turkey, including Miletus, a port city visited by the apostle Paul, and Ephesus, where Paul lived and worked for a time and to which he directed one of his letters. From Ephesus the tour will turn inland for the next few days, visiting an important site of Emperor worship (Aphrodisias), an ancient (and modern) hot spring resort (Hierapolis), and the excavations at Laodicea (mentioned in the book of Revelation) and Pisidian Antioch, a city visited several times by the apostle Paul. From Antioch, the tour will turn southward toward the port city of Antalya (ancient Attalia) on the Mediterranean Sea, concluding with visits to several well-excavated coastal cities that will provide a final glimpse of life in a first-century Roman civic center. From here all participants will return to their home countries (most likely through Istanbul).
Dr. Chris Stanley, professor of theology at St. Bonaventure University in New York, is the author/editor of four scholarly books and numerous professional articles on the apostle Paul. He travels regularly around the world to present papers, give lectures, and teach courses at conferences, seminaries, and universities. For more information, see http://www.sbu.edu/About_SBU.aspx?id=11500.
Dr. Scott Craver, assistant professor of art history at St. Bonaventure University in New York, is a Roman archaeologist and art historian who worked and wrote his dissertation on the excavations at Pompeii. He conducted archaeological research in Italy for three years and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. For more information, see http://www.sbu.edu/uploadedFiles/About/Directory_Contact/New_Faculty_Profiles/S_Craver_Vita.pdf.