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I am turning in my final paper here. I hope I am on time. Sorry for the delay because my
computer crashed.

By the way, all my files in the computer was erased and I do not have any copy of the
preliminary paper which I turned in during our last session in class. I will appreciate if
you can send me a copy either by mail or by fax. My fax number is (626) 796-9667.

Thanks and best regards,

Smyrna - A City with Many Crowns

People are usually proud of their birthplace. Paul is no exception. In his defense in
Jerusalem, he boasted that he was “a Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant
city (Acts 21:39).” After my visit to the ancient city of Smyrna, with its modern city of
Izmir, I am delighted that I have witnessed a truly no insignificant city. As I reflect on
what I have researched, seen, heard, observed, and experienced, I have come to appreciate
Smyrna as a city of many crowns. The crown is a symbol of victory, glory, and reward
among Romans and Greeks.

The Legendary Crown
Legend has it that Smyrna, daughter of King Cinyras of Cyprus, was very pretty. She was
a crown jewel to the king and queen of Cyprus. The queen was so proud of her daughter
that she boasted that Smyrna was more beautiful than the goddess Aphrodite herself. This
has so irritated Aphrodite that she made the young girl fall in love with her own father.
One night Smyrna made her father drunk and slept with him. When the king awoke, he
felt embarrassed and angry. Just as he was about to kill Smyrna with his sword, Aphrodite
took pity on the girl and turned her into a myrrh tree. The king’s sword split the tree in
half and a baby came out. The baby was Adonis, who grew up to become the lover of

The Archaeological Crown
The first settlers in Smyrna can be dated as far back as the Bronze Age (3500 - 1000 BC).
Excavations show that the settlement, known as Smurna, was contemporary with the Troy
civilization. Later the Ionians and Aeolians came during the 11th century BC and lived in
the coastal city of Smyrna. Excavated mudbrick defense walls indicate that Smyrna was
already a city state as early as the 8th century BC. The ceramics of foreign origin
discovered in the excavations indicate that the city flourished, particularly in maritime
trade. It boasts itself as one of the greatest ancient cities decorated with four crowns. First,
the Temple of Athena, built in 700 BC, is the most ancient example of Greek architecture
in the East. Second, the oldest specimen of a Greek house, with courtyard and multi-
rooms on two storeys, was found here. Third, it has the oldest example of a cobbled street
in Greek civilization. Fourth, the tomb of Tantalus on Mt. Yamanlar is one of the oldest
examples of a circular tomb.
The Geographical and Architectural Crown of Beauty
Known as the “Beautiful Izmir” in Turkish, the city lies on a gulf furrowed by ocean-
going ships and luxurious yachts. The climate is mild and wind is fresh due to the
refreshing breeze from the Aegean Sea. The city is surrounded by gorgeous mountains of
gentle slopes.

The old city Smyrna managed to survive after being destroyed, first by the Lydians, then
by the Phrygians, and again by the Persians. Alexander the Great came and rebuilt the city
in 334 BC at Mt. Pagos, now known as Kadifekale. Due to its strategic position, Smyrna
had become the highway terminus and commercial metropolis of an immensely fertile
hinterland during Paul’s time. It outshone in culture even great Roman cities like Ephesus
and Pergamum. With the financial resources of Alexander, Smyrna became a beautiful
city that was passed on to the king of Pergamon and later to Rome. Herodotus had this
testimony: “I have been all around the world and realized that the most beautiful part of
the earth and the most beautiful sky of the universe are in the city of Ionia (Smyrna). That
must have been the reason for its being the cradle of civilization.”

Smyrna was highly regarded by Rome and granted special privileges under Tiberius,
Hadrian and Caracalla. The city, destroyed in 178 AD was reconstructed later by Marcus
Aurelius and decorated with many beautiful structures. It became an archdiocese in
Christian time, and flourished during 5th and 6th centuries AD. The road called the
“Sacred Road” that crossed Smyrna is a stone paved road 30 feet in width. It was referred
by Strabo as the most beautiful road he had ever seen. The road was decorated with
porticoes that have since been discovered during excavations.

We had a strenous climb to the top of Mt. Pagos. There stands the impressive ruins of a
castle and its walls, built by Lysimachus during the reign of Alexander the Great. The
castle offers an excellent panoramic view of the magnificent city over the Gulf of Izmir.
The next morning we visited the old Smyrna at the foot of Mt. Pagos. At a distance, we
beheld the magnificent Mt. Pagos which was partly covered with fog and haze. The
castle, though dilapidated and in ruins, resembles a royal crown standing majestically
atop the mountain. Some of the coins of Smyrna have a goddess with a crown on her head
depicting the castle here at Mt. Pagos.

Although we saw only ruins and some fallen columns during our visit to the acropolis and
the harbor area, excavations during the 1930’s had revealed some Roman theater,
stadium, and a huge agora (250 x 400 feet) which were so beautifully constructed. Some
pictures of these structures are shown in the book published by the Ministry of Tourism.
Smyrna is worthy to be given the Geographical and Architectural Crown of Beauty.

The Crown of Progress
While the old city of Smyrna slumbers in oblivion, its evolved city of Izmir thrives as the
center of commerce and entertainment rivaling Istanbul and Konya. Its seedless grapes,
almonds, tobacco, its spring festival, its “gold drop” Eau de Cologne, cottons and textiles,
figs, olives, are among the best exports in Turkey. Today the city is famed as the largest
export harbour in Turkey.
I bought a silk-on-silk Turkish exotic carpet in one of the factory-stores here. The
informative yet entertaining style of the store manager, his marketing expertise, the wide
variety of choice in the store, and the huge volume of transactions, are all indications that
Izmir is a world-class trading center deserving a Crown of Progress.

The Crown of Literature and Arts
 Smyrna is the birthplace of Homer, one of the greatest literary artists in the world. The
two epic poems written by Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are considered the greatest
poems of the ancient Greece. The two epics provided the basis of Greek education and
culture throughout the classical age and molded the foundation of humane education
down to the time of the Roman Empire and the spread of Christianity. Smyrna must have
been a center of literature and arts in the ancient East to breed such a legendary literary
artist. It truly deserves a Crown of Literature and Arts of the ancient Greece.

The Crown of Life
Christians during the second half of the 1st century were undergoing severe persecution
both from the Romans and Jews. Moreover, many religious sects and cults influenced by
Roman pagan and emperor worshipping practice have impregnated and weakened
Christian faith. As a result, most of the early churches have grown weak and weary. In the
midst of this adverse condition, the church in Smyrna stood up faithfully for Christ, as
opposed to the other neighboring churches in Asia Minor. Just as the city was die hard
faithful to Rome, Christians in Smyrna were die hard faithful to Christ. They refused to
bow and worship Roman emperors. Hence, Christ told them that He knew their suffering
and poverty under Roman and Jews’ oppression. Their persecution for the faith has
brought them spiritual richness. Smyrna is one of the two churches among the seven
churches in Revelation that have no condemnation from Christ. The commendation is “I
know your works, tribulation, and poverty, but you are rich.” Christ encouraged them that
if they were faithful to the point of death, they will be rewarded the Crown of Life. There
is no need to fear even death because Christ Himself has already gone through death and
has overcome death and come back to life.

The metaphor of crown is inspired by the fact that crown or wreath was the most common
element on ancient coins and also known to be the prize for Christian martyrs. Christians
are often likened to athletes winning their crowns at the contest in the gymnasium.

Among the most exemplary Christians of great faithfulness in Smyrna was Polycarp, a
disciple of John the Apostle. Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna. When he was captured
by the authority, the proconsul tried to persuade him to disown Christ with the promise of
setting him free. Polycarp answered dramatically, “I have served Christ eighty-six years
and He has done me no wrong. How I can I blaspheme my King? I am a Christian!” They
brought him to the stadium, tied him on a pole, gathered wood around him and burned
him. But he could not be consumed by the flame so they had to pierce him with a dagger.
He has indeed been faithful to the point of death. He must have received his Crown of
Life before the throne of Christ.

The Crown of Crowns
According to Hemer, the history of Smyrna is a story of death and resurrection. The city
was completely destroyed by the Persians, and rebuilt to its glory by Alexander the Great.
This is an allusion used twice by John the Apostle in his letter to the church in Smyrna -
first in his introduction of Christ, “who was dead, and has come to life,” and later in his
encouragement, “he who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Christ was
introduced by John as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. The same statement is
repeated at the end of the Book of Revelation as the one who is and who was and who is
to come.

Christ’s Crown of Thorns sets an example for the Christians in Smyrna, who were
undergoing tribulation and persecution. “Christ has humbled Himself by becoming
obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God highly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” (Phil. 2:8)

Called the deceiver, the snake and the dragon, Satan has seven crowns on his head (Rev.
12:3). Ironically, those crowns were self-appointed and temporary and were thrown with
him into the lake of fire in the end. In contrast, Christ, the “faithful and true, the righteous
judge, the word of God,” has many crowns upon His head (Rev. 19:12-14), which are
eternal. He is appointed by God as the King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) and
He will reign with His people forever and ever (Rev. 22:5) with the Crown of Crowns
upon his head.

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