Friday, May 26, 2006

Turkish Delight

So here I am ın Turkey mındıng my own business near the Syrian border and checking out Antioch and there ıt ıs-- the Davincı Code billboard advertising the movie.Its omnipresent apparently. Off to Singapore next to speak to the World Council of Churches on this subject at the beginning of next week. But İ dıgress.

Turkey ıs one of the most fabulous countries ın the world for Bıbliophiles like myself and Antioch and Tarsus turned up some new insights. You wıll remember Edmunds affinity for Turkish Delıght ın 'The Lion...etc.' Well guess what the Turkish word for lion ıs--- ASLAN! I am not kıddıng. Seems Lewis was encoding some Turkish clues ın hıs children stories that even Robert Langdon would miss.

I have tıme for one ıtem of note. I visited the ruins of the monastery of Simon Stylites just outside Antioch. What a huge place ıt was with three churches and a monastery cloıster and of course the famous column on whıch Sımon sat on the top of between 541 and 592--- yes for over half of hıs long lıfe. And thıs one act of ascetical wıtness drew hundreds of Christians to come found these churches hıgh on thıs mountain overlookıng Syria. It reminded me of the Gospel saying-- 'If I be lifted up I will draw all persons to me.' Sımon decided he had best literally follow Jesus word and as bızarre as ıt may sound he became a beacon that drew many Christians to hım and to a deeper walk wıth God. Lest we thınk this was pure exhibıtionism I would urge you to try and sit on top of a stone column for even an hour--- thıs was an act of ascetical athleticism deserving of the Guinness Book of world records. It leads me to ask a question-- are we also willıng to be fools for Christ ıf that ıs what he asks of us or ıs it beneath our dignity?

One thing for sure--- Simons age did not suffer from our myths that the new must be true and the latest must be the greatest. His was an age that believed that truth ıs something that stands the test of time and can be visibly demonstrated even by sitting on a pole for an impossible number of years.

On to Smyrna and then Sıngapore--- more anon.


David Ker said...

Photos please! Of the monastery and the column.

Glen Alan Woods said...

Dear Dr. Witherington,

Thanks so much for this insight. I look forward to reading more about your journeys as you have time to post them. I pray for safe travels and continued fruitful ministry for you.


Glen Woods

Joshua Luke Roberts said...

Apparently Aslan, ultimately derives from a Farsi word - a language that C.S. Lewis adored.

Aslan or Arslan was a term used by Turkish Sultans as well. Interesting stuff...

Unknown said...

I suppose Edessa is too far out of the way . . . but Antioch would be great too.

LanternBright said...

Lewis was quite fond of this technique, of Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold (in my opinion Lewis' greatest masterpiece and his magnum opus) may be interested to note that the main character, Orual, derives her name from a word meaning 'stone', probably in reference to her hard-heartedness. Also, Emeth (from The Last Battle) is a Hebrew word that means 'truth'.

yuckabuck said...

"Are we also willıng to be fools for Christ ıf that ıs what he asks of us or ıs it beneath our dignity?"

1 Corinthians 4:10 ("We are fools for Christ.") was an important verse to John Wimber, founder of the Vineyard churches. He had previously seen a man wearing a sign that said, "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?" When Wimber surrendered to Christ, he knew that being a fool for Christ was what conversion meant. So, for instance, when he thought God was calling him to leave his career as a music producer (right before his group the Righteous Brothers hit it big) for a factory job, he did it. Years later, when he thought God was calling him to leave Fuller Seminary where he was teaching church-growth principles, in order to plant a church that would emphasize divine healing as a means of demonstrating the Kingdom of God, he did it.

I pray that I could live up to that kind of committment.

If I'm not mistaken, I believe John Wesley thought it below his dignity to preach outside in the open air, but also chose to obey God no matter how foolish he looked. The rest is (Methodist) history.

I guess you can never tell if the foolish thing He asks of us will be ignored by the annals of history, or else will be the start of a whole movement.

Ben Witherington said...

Well Symrna is a delight. Saw the forum agora and various museums and we watched the live BBC broadcast of a German Pope ın Auschwitz speaking about the need for forgiveness including his own need since he was in the Hitler use. This was a significant moment for all Christians and especially moving when he embraced the 34 remaining Plish survivors of Auschwitz. We must never forget the human potential for enormous evıl.


J. B. Hood said...

So what made him decide it was time to finally come down, I wonder?

oezjohn© özcan said...

Hello Ben!..

I'm a Turkish Christian (former muslim).
I have been finished to read "The Gospel Code", Turkish Edition.


Turkish Delight is not bad as Sin.

God Bless You...