Part 4 – Santorini, Corinth, Mycenae & Athens
The cities of Oia and Fira, Santorini, the picturesque Greek Island pictured on most calendars are accessed by a narrow road that makes hairpin turns up the side of this towering volcanic hillside. Now if you start by ship in waters with white caps, transfer to a diesel powered tender boat in choppy water, survive the drive to the top in a diesel powered bus inches from the edge of a small rockery guardrail, you now encounter mobs of tourists smoking cigarettes… it was about this time that I started to get a little woozy. Finding a quiet spot, we had a chance to wander the tiny shops and look out on a most spectacular scene. All too soon the magic ended with the return trip… I’m so thankful for the kind lady who looked at me and shared her plastic bag.
Corinth was amazing… once a highly regarded city by Paul’s time many of the inhabitants were a mix of seafaring people, prostitutes, lower class people, Romans and a Jewish settlement. To the outside world, the label of Corinthian meant “immoral”. Our guide took scripture and explained how Paul used things that these extremely depraved pagan Corinthians were familiar with to demonstrate Christian principles.
When Paul’s explains that by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, that the church is composed of many members but we are the body of Christ , it was an example they understood. The walls of the
Corinthian pagan temple were covered with hundreds of very graphic Terra-cotta clay body parts made for Asklepios, the god of healing either seeking a cure or thanking the god for a healing.
Corinthian bronze was highly prized so Paul used ornate bronze mirrors as a teaching moment when he said, “now you see thru a glass darkly…”
Their earthen vessels were ornately decorated used to hold sacrifices to their gods. So the people understood what Paul was illustrating when he said, “But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.”
(2 Corinthians 4:7 )
The Corinthians participated in running events each year to gain a wreath as a price – one city might have bay leaves, another laurel or olive and another celery… all perishable. Paul told them, “Run the race not for perishable (wreaths)…”
The most interesting fact concerned the 1000 temple prostitutes. They were bought as slaves to serve any visitors to Aphrodite’s Temple, mostly women but some men. Their heads were shaved and they wore sandals with “Follow Me” engraved on the bottom. When they returned from the Hill to Corinth at night their sandals left their calling on the dusty roads. Their bodies belonged to Aphrodite and anyone who paid for their services, they were no longer their own.
When Paul used the example that our bodies are temples of God, no longer our own, the people understood what it meant to be bought out of slavery.
Some of these prostitutes became Christians but faced persecution & gossip within the church. With their shaved heads, they stood out from other believers. Some feel this is why Paul asked women to cover their heads in order to keep unity within the church.
Athens was named after the goddess Athena, the daughter of Zeus. Evidently Zeus is no longer protecting this place as it has deteriorated since we visited in the early 80’s. This once beautiful city looks worn and scarred by economic downturns and internal difficulties. Most of the old city’s marble buildings are now covered with graffiti, refugees, homeless and decaying Neo-Classic buildings. So sad. The tourist places have been maintained… climbed Mars Hill where Paul preached and then climbed to the top of the Acropolis… this would be a great way to lose weight… however, too many buffet meals have been ingested!!! Our groups splits tomorrow… some returning home, some on to Rome and about 32 of us on to northern Greece.