Over the years I have been fascinated by the History of the Christian Church in what is now modern day Turkey. In the first century Christian churches were established in many parts of what was then Asia Minor and is now Turkey. The Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus and had a formative role in the establishment and development of the newly formed Church in Antioch (modern day Antakya). The Apostle Paul visited many parts of Asia Minor and established Churches in Iconium (Konya), Atallia (Antalya) Ephesus (Efes) Troas (Truva) and other cities.
Turkey, because of it’s past history could be referred to as the ‘Other Holy Land’. The Acts of the Apostles describes how The Apostle Paul, who was born in SE Turkey, travelled throughout Turkey and established churches in Konya (Iconium), Antalya and other ancient cities. The Apostle Paul wrote letters to the Christians in Galatia and Ephesus and Colossae which are all in present day Turkey. The Apostle John starts his Revelation with letters written to the seven churches which are again all in modern day Turkey. The Apostle Peter wrote his first letters to people living in ‘…the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bythynia’ (1 Peter 1:1). These provinces are all in what is now modern day Turkey.
Turkey is a country rich in Christian history. Christians were first given the name of Christian in Antioch (Antakya) in SE Turkey. The first century church was established in Turkey as well as the Holy Land and other Mediterranean countries. The Apostle John moved from Jerusalem to Ephesus which is a ruined city on the west coast of Turkey. He probably brought with him Mary the mother of Jesus and possibly Mary Magdalene. After the Apostles died the church continued to grow and develop in Turkey. St Polycarp was martyred for his faith in the year 156. St Polycarp had known John the Apostle and his death marks the end of those who know the Apostles. Other important figures in the early church such as The Cappadocian fathers also lived in central Turkey, in Cappadocia.
Constantine the great established his capital in what is now Istanbul in 330. Constantine’s mother, St Helena, was from Bythinia, a Roman province in what is now Western Turkey. Prior to Galerius’ (30 April 311) and Constantine’s (13 June 313) edicts Christians had been persecuted. From 313 Christians were no longer persecuted for their faith.
Important councils of the early church were held in Turkey: Nicea (325 Iznik), Second Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople (381 Istanbul), Ephesus ( 431 Selcuk) Chalcedon (451 Kadikoy).
Turkey was the home of Constantinople, Byzantium. The Byzantine Empire came to an end when Istanbul was conquered on 29 May 1453 by Mehmet the Conqueror. This marked the beginning of what is known as the Ottoman Empire that ended with the establishment of the modern Turkish Republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Ataturk established the new republic as a secular state.
This book will look at Christian Women who lived in Turkey during New Testament Times, the early Church, pre-Constantine and in post-Constantinian Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire and in the early and later years of the Turkish Republic. At the time of writing in the 21st Century there is a growing Turkish Protestant Church as well as the ancient churches.
The women you meet in the pages of this book will hopefully convey something of what being a Christian woman was like down the ages. It will portray a group of women who were products of their age who lived out their faith in the context in which they found themselves. Inevitably there are some women that have been left out but the author hopes that you will enjoy the selection and find the lives of these women inspirational and enlightening.
Over the next months I will be posting some little snap shots of the women who I will be focusing on. I hope those who read the snapshots will eventually want to purchase the finished book and read for themselves, in greater detail about the lives of women in the 20 centuries since the church first came into being in Asia Minor.
Copyright © 2018 Rev Ros Wilkinson