Jul 11, 2014

After Paul Left Philippi

Paul's ministry in Philippi in Acts 16 is one of the highlights of his second missionary journey. Similarly, Paul's epistle to the Christians in Philippi is a favorite among Bible readers. But this biblical material might give the impression of a thriving and influential Christian community in Philippi. But extrabiblical evidence seems to challenge this impression. As Fatih Cimok notes,  

"Following the enthusiasm with which some Philippians embraced Paul's message one would expect Christianity to have flourished in the region in a short time. The scarcity of Christian tomb reliefs and their late date (post-Constantinian), in contrast to the popular continuity of pagan ones, the reliefs of various deities, especially the reliefs of Artemis/ Diana  and the elaborate shrines dedicated to the Roman god of nature  Sylvanus, on the rocks of the acropolis in the period following Paul's visit do not confirm this. Some scholars speculate that the absence of any reference to a bishop in Polycarp's letter written in the 150s to Philippi may also point in the same direction, the relatively late development of Christianity in the region. The fact that the apocryphal Acts of Paul and Acts of Andrew the Philippians are converted through a series of miracles may also point to a strong pagan trend, requiring miracles. The events in Acts, the city's location on the Via Egnatia would make Philippi a very important pilgrimage site only after the time of Constantine the Great."

Fatih Cimok, Journeys of Paul: From Tarsus to the Ends of the Earth (Istanbul: A Turizm Yayinlari, 2004), 134.

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