Women have been active in the church that has existed in what is modern day Turkey since New Testament times. A selection of these women's stories will be published here and eventually published as a book. The book will be more extensive than this website.
Today, 8 September, the Church celebrates the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary, the mother of Jesus, features in the mosaics of the Chora Church of the Saviour, Edirne Kapı, Istanbul. This famous former Byzantine Church is decorated with some of the most beautiful mosaics and frescoes. The frescoes are not currently visible because that part of the building is closed for restoration. The mosaics describe the birth and life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, the birth of Jesus and his ministry.
In the video below I use photographs I have taken of the mosaics to illustrate the story of Mary’s birth and early life according to the Protoevangelium of James. This is an apocryphal gospel that can be viewed here: Protoevangelium of James
I refer to the text using PJ #1 – the first paragraph in the Protoevangelium of James.
Mary was called to have a key role in God’s plan of salvation for His creation. She was a woman who was ready and willing to say yes to God. Once when a woman in the crowd around Jesus said ‘blessed are the breast that suckled you’ – Jesus turned and said of those who followed him that they were his mother, his sister and brother. The test of our relationship with Jesus is whether we are his disciples.
Almighty and everlasting God,
who stooped to raise fallen humanity
through the child-bearing of blessed Mary:
grant that we, who have seen your glory
revealed in our human nature
and your love made perfect in our weakness,
may daily be renewed in your image
and conformed to the pattern of your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen
This mosaic is found in the gallery of the Church of the Holy Wisdom – also known as Haghia Sophia. It was established as the Cathedral Church of Istanbul. It is now a museum.
I continue writing my book about the history of Christian Women who have lived in what is now modern day Turkey. Their history starts in AD30 – the year that Jesus Christ was crucified and continues up to the present day. I hope to publish my book later this year.
The first two chapters of my book are looking at what the bible has to say about women. In my research I have come across a very valuable resource produced by Dr Kenneth Bailey. He had a long career working in universities in the Middle East teaching Middle Eastern New Testament Studies. His books contain unique insights into the Middle Eastern world that Jesus and his disciples would have been familiar with. His insights are very helpful in the exegesis of the gospels. Some years ago Dr Bailey produced six videos on Jesus and women in the bible. He has also published Poet and Peasant, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, Through Peasant Eyes and Jacob and the Prodigal.
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