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Sacred Christian Places in Athens


Aug 30th, 2015, 02:03 PM
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Sacred Christian Places in Athens

Are there any Biblical or early Christian Places worth visiting in Athens?
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Aug 30th, 2015, 10:06 PM
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The short answer to the question is "no," if you accept serious historians' definition of early Christianity.

Paul did preach to, or at any rate interrupt the discussions of, some people on the Areopagus. This had been a significant judicial centre in classical Athens five and more centuries earlier and the courts on the site in Paul's time still retained some local power under Roman rule. But the site is almost entirely visited because of its extreme importance in ancient Athenian politics and its frequent occurrence in classical, way pre-Christian, literature.

Thereafter, there are simply no significant Christian remains in Athens until the time of the emperor Justinian (roughly 482-565). By that time Christianity had developed way beyond its "early" days in most of the Mediterranean.

As far as I'm aware, even in Justinian's time, establishing churches consisted mostly of converting pagan temples. The conventional history of this is summarised in the online Catholic Encyclopedia (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02043b.htm), which describes a number of well-known classical temples that became Christianised in the 6th century. AFAIK, none of these have any significant visible remains of their life between then and their re-secularisation and modern visits are all about their pre-Christian history.

The online Catholic Encyclopedia was written in 1913, and there's been a huge amount of archaeology since. In most areas of the history of the Roman Empire this has transformed our understanding: I'm not aware this is true of the history of Christian Athens, though someone may know different.

The websites referred to above contain almost entirely references to New Testament-related sites elsewhere in the Greek world. Christianity on any serious scale developed very late in Athens, and its early history in what we now call Greece is best conserved and displayed in Thessalonica.

Athens' Byzantine Museum is a terrific collection of art and artefacts, huge proportions of them Christianity based. Most of what's on display postdates Justinian. But there are a few earlier items, not necessarily excavated in Athens, that use what we now see as Christian symbols (such as the Good Shepherd) but probably were created in an earlier culture. As so often around the Mediterranean, the use of such devices raises all sorts of intriguing questions.
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Sep 1st, 2015, 11:21 AM
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Thank you very much. My mother in law, a devout Christian was interested.. Now, so as not to clutter up this forum, a couple of questions. Will be in Rhodes, Paros and Santorini in late Sept and Oct. Aremthe waters near the beaches swimable that time of year? Also, we're staying in Dryos, Paros for a week: is a day trip to Naxos worth our effort? I think we will day trip to Ante Paros.
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Sep 1st, 2015, 11:32 AM
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Go! go, go to the above mentioned museum in Athens - there is just an amazing collection of icons (and not like you usually picture) but so much more. It is wonderful, in a lovely building and cool inside. It is in my top 10 of unexpected European delights

I'd risk cluttering up the board and adding a new post with your other questions - not sure you will get answers here.

Have you found the website - Matt Barrett's Greece? (something like that) it has tons of info on the different islands. We stayed 5 nights on Naxos - loved it! but it is pretty low key - in some ways, as much as I enjoyed hanging out there, not sure a daytrip will expose you to much that you haven't bumped into on your other locations.
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Sep 1st, 2015, 12:30 PM
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Do not miss the Athens Byzantine museum! It is in a lovely setting, has a nice cafe and the exhibits are beautifully arranged and described. http://www.byzantinemuseum.gr/en/
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