Friday 22 March 2013

Caesarea Maritime


Cabanas amidst stones from the theatre (much reconstructed now, in the background)

A view of the site of Herod's palace

The Mediterranean...

The temple of Rome used to be here, and then a Byzantine Church
Caesarea Maritime, important city for the New Testament. Here the conversion of the Roman centurion Cornelius took place, together with that of his household. Here the gospel was first shared with the gentiles. Here therefore is the place associated with the universality of the church. Here is where the first inculturation of the gospel into another culture began. Peter came here from Jaffa, at the behest of the men sent him by Cornelius. (Acts chs. 10-11) Paul also took ship and landed back several times from here, and here it was that he remained a full two years in prison. (Acts 9:30, 18:22; 21:8; 23:31 - 27:2) He was probably imprisoned in Herod's palace. Here is where he appealed to Caesar, and so was sent to Rome, where eventually he suffered martyrdom. The long period of imprisonment was fruitful, said Vernet: it helped him to concentrate and pray, and the result is the Captivity Letters.

A phrase to be kept in our hearts during the day, from Peter's speech at Caesarea: transit bene facendo - "Jesus went about doing good."

Caesarea was a great school of exegesis and theology. It is associated with Origen, and with a famous library, second only to that of Alexandria, now unfortunately completely lost. It is associated with Eusebius, historian of the church and metropolitan.  St Jerome was himself one of the great users of the library.

We took the road through the Palestinian territories, passing Gibeon and Bet Horon on the way. Sanballat, the builder of the Gerizim temple of the Samaritans, was a Gibeonite. He built the temple for his faithful daughter-in-law - the one who preferred to be faithful to her love than to her Jewish religion.

We also passed Rosh Ha Ayin, which used to be Epheq, and later Antipatris (in honour of Herod the Great's father Antipater). 

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