Pictures from Turkey

Paul and Empire:  Then and Now

A Turkish Pilgrimage in Pauline Christianity

Led by:

Sarah Sexton Crossan & John Dominic Crossan

In loving memory of Marcus J. Borg (1942-2015)

May 13 – 27, 2015

Trip map

DAY 1: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - Depart the United States for our overnight flight to Istanbul where we will connect to our final flight into Ankara, Turkey. M

DAY 2: Thursday, May 14, 2015 - Arrive in Ankara (ancient Ancyra or Angora and capital of Galatia, now the capital of Turkey and its second-largest city).  We will meet our driver and guide and transfer to our hotel in Ankara for dinner and overnight. MD

DAY 3: Friday, May 15, 2015 - We begin our first full day with an orientation meeting after breakfast.  Then we visit the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations to recall the rise and fall of multiple empires in what is now modern Turkey.  That prepares us for our focus on the Roman Empire, the one of most importance for Jesus, Paul, and the New Testament.  We return to our hotel in Ankara for some afternoon rest, dinner, and overnight. BD

DAY 4: Saturday, May 16, 2015 - In the morning we visit the first-century Temple of Rome and Augustus, the divine couple at the heart of Rome’s new world order.  On its wall are carved the Latin text and Greek translation of the “Acts of the Divine Augustus by which he brought the entire world under the rule of the Roman Empire”.  Ancyra was the capital of the Roman Province of Galatia and Paul’s “Galatians” were Romanized Celts.  After our visit we drive about four hours to our hotel in Cappadocia where we will have dinner and overnight. BD

DAY 5: Sunday, May 17, 2015 - We visit the UNESCO World Heritage site at Göreme National Park—an open-air museum of Byzantine cave-built monasteries and churches—and visit as many as possible.  Watch for frescoes depicting themes from Eastern Christianity that have no Western equivalents, for example, frescoes of Eastern Christianity’s communal Resurrection in such places as the twin Old and New Tokali or Buckle Churches (10th C), the Karanlik or Dark Church (11th C), and the Çarıklı or Sandals Church (11th C).  We return to our hotel in Cappadocia for dinner, and overnight.  There will be an opportunity for an optional late evening visit to a Sufi ceremony in a 13th century caravanserai. BD

DAY 6: Monday, May 18, 2015 - We drive from Cappadocia to Yalvac, ancient Pisidian Antioch, located along the eastern shore of beautiful Lake Egirdir.  The journey is a little over 300 miles and we arrive in the late afternoon on this our longest day on the coach.  Time on the coach for “Roads Scholarship” Q&A on what we have seen and what is yet to come.  Dinner and overnight at Yalvac. BD

DAY 7: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - Pisidian Antioch, so identified because there were many cities named after Antiochus.  Antioch of Pisidia is surrounded on all sides by distant mountains and, on its eastern side, the Anthius River flows through a deep ravine into Lake Eğirdir.  Read Acts 13:14-51 and think how well Barnabas and Paul knew—by foot—this striking mix of lakes and mountains.  We also visit the Yalvac museum for artifacts from Pisidian Antioch, especially small LatiIn fragments of the “Acts of the Divine Augustus,” larger chunks of it in Greek from nearby Apollonia, and the Sergius Paulus inscription (recall Acts 13:7).  Dinner and overnight at Yalvac. BD

DAY 8: Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - We drive from Pisidian Antioch to Pamukkale.  On arrival there, we look at the huge north cemetery of Hierapolis and see where Paul got his novel idea that the revered or martyred dead would greet Christ first at the parousis (1 Thessalonian 4:13-18).  It is possibly the very best place to understand Paul’s vision of that consummation as a congratulatory imperial visitation.  Dinner and overnight at Pamukkale. BD

DAY 9: Thursday, May 21, 2015 - We drive along the Meander Valley, the major east-west artery to the mid-Aegean coast of Turkey—be it for river, road, or railway. We will stop at Aphrodisias, one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Turkey and yet slightly off the beaten track for tourists.  Its Augusteum or Sebasteion, dedicated to Rome, Augustus, and “the Olympian Imperial Gods”, is a uniquely dramatic illustration of Roman imperial theology.  Many of its bas-reliefs are now beautifully displayed in the museum’s new wing—where we begin our visit.  We will also see the Jewish “God-worshippers” inscription from the ancient synagogue, dated around 200 CE.  We continue our drive to Kuşadası for dinner and overnight. BD

DAY 10: Friday, May 22, 2015 - Today is totally free of any planned visits or sites.  It is a pause in our pilgrimage and is deliberately left free for any individual activities, for absorbing what we have done and what is still to come, and for enjoying—we hope—the magnificent Aegean sunshine.  Evening meeting, as usual and dinner and overnight at Kuşadası. BD

Day 11: Saturday, May 23, 2015 - We visit Priene with ruins from the Greek and Roman periods.  We see an important inscription dedicating its main temple to Augustus as Son of God and God Incarnate.  We see the shrine-room where the Calendrical Decree changing New Year’s Day in Roman Asia to the birthday of the God Augustus was discovered and removed to Berlin.  The bouleterion (council chamber) and theater are particularly well preserved.  It also has one of the oldest ancient synagogues ever discovered in Turkey.  We return to Kuşadası for dinner and overnight. BD

Day 12: Sunday, May 24, 2015- We visit Ephesus, the best preserved ancient city in the world.  Once on the sea, Ephesus is now about 3 miles inland.  Ephesus was a major center of Paul’s activities (see Acts 19) as well as one of the seven cities of the book of Revelation (Rev. 2:1-7).  Many of Paul’s letters were written during the years he lived here.  We see the Theater, the Library of Celsus, and the “terrace houses”, the villas of the wealthy, a special exhibition only recently opened to the general public.  We also have a special visit to “The Cave of St. Thecla” with a 5th century fresco of her conversion by Paul—a site normally not open to tourists.  We return to Kuşadası for dinner and overnight. BD

Day 13: Monday, May 25, 2015 - We visit Miletus, where Paul met with the elders of Ephesus on his final journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:15-38).  We also see a reserved-seat inscription to the “God-worshippers” in the theater.  We also visit the great unfinished Temple of Apollo at Didyma.  The first-century claim was that Augustus was conceived of his human mother Atia and the God Apollo—the God of order & prophecy, healing & song, and, as Phoebus Apollo, the God of light, sun, and justice.  We return to Kuşadası for dinner and overnight. BD

Day 14: Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - We visit the 6th century Basilica of St. John the Evangelist, the traditional site of his burial and site of a cruciform baptistery that vividly illustrates “dying and rising with Christ”.  Then we visit Mary’s House, a few miles away, sacred to both Christians and Muslims.  Both these visits emphasize the important distinction between historical sites—where something important happened—and liturgical location—where something important is celebrated.  At Mary’s House we celebrate the Eucharist in a small chapel.  We return to Kuşadası for dinner and overnight. BD

Day 15: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - We fly out of Izmir to begin the journey home or, for those doing the optional Istanbul extension, to Istanbul.  Those returning immediately to the USA will arrive home the same day. BM

Price: $5,099.00 per person.  Air from JFK, New York City

Price is based on double occupancy without airline taxes and fuel surcharges, which will be added to your final invoice.  Taxes and fuel surcharges are currently $414.80 and may change.  Air transportation available from other cities.  Single supplement:  $699.00

Group is limited to 35 participants on a first come first served basis.

Tips for the driver and guide are NOT included.

Recommended minimum tipping per person:
◊ Guide for main pilgrimage: $100.00
◊ Driver for main pilgrimage: $50.00
◊ Guide for Istanbul extension: $22.00
◊ Driver for Istanbul extension: $11.00
◊ Tipping in US Currency is acceptable.

Airport transfers for those whose arrival or departure does not meet the group criteria.
Items of a personal nature such as room service or extra tips for extra services

Turkish visas are required.  They can be pre-purchased online by going to  If you choose to purchase before travel please note that the visas are only valid for three months.  They are valid immediately upon purchasing so we recommend waiting until 2 months before departure to purchase your visa.

Deposit of $300.00 per person due with application and copy of passport.

Final payment due February 1, 2015

Cancellation Penalties
◊ August 1, 2014 – January 31, 2015: $300.00 plus any unrecoverable fees.
◊ After February 1, 2015: NO REFUND

An application for travel insurance will be included with the receipt for your deposit.  We strongly recommend that you seriously consider this coverage.

Meals: B Breakfast, L Lunch, D Dinner, M Meals on Aircraft

The itinerary is subject to change due to local conditions or at the discretion and direction of the leader or guide.

Extension to Istanbul (Optional)

Please note that the leaders, Sarah Crossan and Dominic Crossan will not be with those who will take the optional Istanbul extension. You will have an English speaking guide and private motor coach and driver at your disposal from arrival to departure.

Day 15: Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - After checking out of our hotel we drive to the airport to catch our flight to Istanbul.  On our way into the exotic city of Istanbul, we will visit, St. Saviour in Chora to see the magnificent mosaics and Kucuk Ayasofya Mosque.  We will check into our hotel and then, in the afternoon, we will visit Topkapi Palace, the ancient Roman Hippodrome and the Blue Mosque.  We will return to our hotel for dinner and overnight. BD

DAY 16: Thursday, May 28, 2015 - We begin our day with a visit to the famous Spice Market and then we will board a ship to cruise the Bosphorus to the gateway of the Black Sea.  We will sail along the European and Asiatic shores of Istanbul and disembark at Sariye where we will have a special fish lunch at the seaside.  We return to the Asiatic side of Istanbul via the Bosphorus Bridge and climb to the top of Camlica Hill for a panoramic view of the city before we return to our hotel in Istanbul.  You will be free for dinner on your own this evening.  Overnight in Istanbul. BLD

DAY 17: Friday, May 29, 2015 - Today we visit the world famous Hagia Sophia, once the largest church in Christendom, then a mosque and now a fabulous museum.  We continue to the underground Cistern, the water reservoir of the ancient Constantinople during the Ottoman Empire.  You will have some time to shop at the Grand Bazaar and then have dinner and overnight in Istanbul. BD

DAY 18: Saturday, May 30, 2015 - Breakfast and then we board our coach and transfer to the airport where we bid our driver and guide goodbye and board our return flight to the United States. BM

Price: $1,099.00* additional.  Single supplement costs $299.00* additional. 

The leaders of the Crossan Pilgrimage will not join you on this extension.  You will have a private guide from your arrival until your departure as well as a private motor-coach with driver.  The price includes all entrances fees, roundtrip airport transfers, accommodations, tips for meals when meals are included, and hotel taxes.

Tips for the driver and guide are NOT included.

All terms and conditions, cancellation penalties and payment due dates remain the same as for the main itinerary.

Final payment due February 1, 2014

Cancellation Penalties
◊ August 1, 2014 – January 31, 2015: $300.00 plus any unrecoverable fees.
◊ After February 1, 2015: NO REFUND

An application for travel insurance will be included with the receipt for your deposit.  We strongly recommend that you seriously consider this coverage.

Meals: B Breakfast, L Lunch, D Dinner, M Meals on aircraft

The itinerary is subject to change due to local conditions or at the discretion and direction of the leader or guide.