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The World of St. Paul & Late Antiquity: Civilizations and Faiths in Transition

Departure     June 2 – 13, 2019

At the height of the Pax Romana, between the reigns of Augustus and Trajan, the Roman Empire stood at the pinnacle of its glory, controlling the vast territory from Hadrian’s Wall in northern England to the Caspian Sea in Asia.  Roman law and Roman culture, to a great extent based on the culture of ancient Greece, knew no rival, and during this tranquil period, Christianity was born.  Eventually, Rome declined and its empire disappeared.  But much of the Greco-Roman legacy was preserved for eternity, in no small way thanks to Christianity.  And Christianity might have remained obscure had not a Jew named Paul from Tarsus carried the new faith to the great cities of the Empire.  Paul incorporated tenets of Greek classical tradition and Judaism into the new faith.

Our journey is designed to explore sites that are richly associated with some of the most dramatic moments in the history of the rise of Christianity set in the context of the Greco-Roman culture of St. Paul’s life and time.

Why Travel with Thalassa Journeys

Thalassa Journeys was established by the principals and managers of Travel Dynamics, the company that 50 years ago pioneered the concept of educational travel for America’s educational and cultural institutions. The belief that travel is primarily a learning experience forms the core principle of Thalassa Journeys.

Each Thalassa Journey is constructed around a particular theme. Unlike most tours, each of our journeys are intimate, and led by lecturers who are truly subject-matter experts for each theme. Although many other companies claim to have expert lecturers, few truly have accomplished, renowned experts in their fields, like Thalassa.

Itinerary

Day 1 : Depart THE USA

Fly from the U.S. to Thessaloniki, Greece.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 2 : Tour THESSALONIKI, Greece

Arrive in Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Macedonia. Upon arrival, transfer to the Hotel Makedonia Palace. In the evening, enjoy a welcome dinner.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 3 : Tour THESSALONIKI

Founded in 316 BC and named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki, the biblical Thessalonica, commands a beautiful position at the head of a spacious bay. St. Paul founded a Christian community here in AD 49-50 and directed two of his epistles to the Thessalonians. Thessaloniki was also an important center of Jewish learning. The city is renowned for its monuments dating from late antiquity, and for its early Christian churches, which we will visit in the morning, including the church of Aghios Georgios, built on a Roman rotunda; the church of Aghia Sophia, believed to be older than its namesake in Istanbul; the Cathedral of Aghios Demetrios, the guardian of the city; and the church of Holy Apostles, with its striking 14th- century mosaics. In the afternoon, visit the splendid Museum of Byzantine Culture, and spend time at leisure to explore this vibrant city on your own.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 4 : Tour THESSALONIKI/PHILIPPI/KAVALA/THESSALONIKI

Drive in the morning to Philippi, founded in the 4th century BC by Phillip II, the father Alexander the Great. It is believed that here St. Paul delivered his first sermon on European soil and baptized his first convert. He addressed one of his epistles to the people of Philippi. After exploring the ancient city, including the remains of several early basilicas, drive to nearby Kavala, the ancient port town of Neapolis, where St. Paul landed in AD 49. Enjoy lunch and time at leisure in picturesque Kavala, which is built on two hills facing the harbor.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 5 : Tour THESSALONIKI/SAMOS

Fly from Thessaloniki to Samos, the lush Greek island located near the coast of Turkey. One of the wealthiest islands of antiquity, Samos was also a renowned center of learning. Spend the next four nights at the lovely Hotel Proteas.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 6 : Tour SAMOS/EPHESUS/SAMOS

Sail in the morning the short channel across to Turkey’s port of
Kusadasi, and from there continue to nearby Ephesus, one of the most prominent cities of antiquity, now a magnificent archaeological site. Founded by Greeks around 1100 BC, Ephesus flourished between 600 BC and AD 500, becoming one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the Roman Empire and an early center of Christianity. Paul lived here from AD 52-54. Our exploration of the site will include the Street of Kuretes, the same street St. Paul walked during his stay, the theater, which held 24,000 people and the site where the famous riot against him took place, the many monuments that line the street, the Church of the Councils and the house of the Virgin Mary. Return to Samos in the afternoon.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 7 : Tour SAMOS

One of the wealthiest and most powerful city-states of ancient Greece, Samos achieved the pinnacle of its brilliance in the 6th century BC, when its energetic merchants had pioneered trade routes stretching from Egypt to Spain. Samos was also an intellectual powerhouse. Pythagoras, philosopher, mathematician and discoverer of the geometric theorem that bears his name was a native son, Aesop wrote his fables here, and many artists, writers and philosophers from throughout Greece were drawn to the island. Tour in the morning Samos’s most important monuments, including the remains of the Heraion, the enormous shrine dedicated to the Mother Goddess; the Tunnel of Eupalinos, one of the greatest engineering feats of antiquity; the monastery of Panaghia Spyliani; and the Archaeological Museum in Vathy. Spend the afternoon at leisure.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 8 : Tour SAMOS/PATMOS/SAMOS

Sail for the day to Patmos, the island where St. John the Divine was exiled to from Ephesus in AD 95 by the Roman Emperor Dominian, and the place where he received the vision of the Apocalypse (Revelation), which is now the last book of the New Testament. According to tradition, St. John received the vision in a cave, which we will visit after we land on this holy island. A little further up the road is the imposing fortress-like Monastery of St. John, built in 1088.The monastery consists of several chapels, in addition to the church of St. John, that are rich in ecclesiastical treasures. Outstanding is the Library. Below the monastery spreads charming Chora, Patmos’s main town, with its characteristic architecture. Enjoy lunch in Patmos before returning to Samos and the hotel.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 9 : Tour SAMOS/ATHENS

Transfer to the airport for the flight to Athens. Upon arrival, transfer to the Hotel Plaza, located on Constitution Square, the center of the city, and within walking distance from many of its attractions.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 10 : Tour ATHENS

One of the world’s most venerable cities, Athens is the capital of Greece and Europe’s oldest city. Its monuments and the treasures in its museums are reminders of the city’s glorious past. Start in the morning by visiting the hill of the Areopagus, the place where the Assembly of the Athenians met, and the place where St. Paul preached his celebrated sermon “on the Unknown God.” Continue to the Acropolis to visit its monuments, including the incomparable Parthenon, built in the 5th century BC. In the afternoon, tour the Agora, the heart of public life of ancient Athens. Here, Socrates conversed with his fellow citizens questioning their assumptions, and St. Paul preached Christianity to Athenians.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 11 : Tour ATHENS/CORINTH/ATHENS

During the Roman period, Corinth achieved the point of its greatest prosperity and wealth. It is estimated that the city had a population of 300,000. St. Paul spent 18 months here (AD 51-52) practicing his trade as a tentmaker (Acts XVIII), and challenging the luxurious lifestyle of the Corinthians. Visit the site and the Museum. Also, see the Corinth Canal, the narrow waterway that separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland. After lunch in Corinth, return to Athens in the afternoon. In the evening, enjoy a farewell dinner.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Day 12 : Transfer ATHENS/USA

Transfer to the airport for the flight home.

Accommodation

Meals Included

Tour Price

$5,490 per person, double occupancy

Single room supplement: $690

Inclusions

Expert Guest Lecturer

Bart D. Ehrman

Bart D. Ehrman

Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he has taught since 1988.  Professor Ehrman has published extensively in the fields of New Testament and Early Christianity, having written or edited thirty-one books, including six New York Times Bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer; Jesus Interrupted; Forged: Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are; How Jesus Became God; and The Triumph of Christianity.  His Introduction to the New Testament has been the most widely used textbook in colleges and universities for over twenty years.  He has recorded eight lecture courses for The Great Courses (The Teaching Company).   More than two million copies of his books and courses have been sold, and his books have been translated into twenty-seven languages. Professor Ehrman’s work has been featured in the New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other print media.  He has appeared on NBC's Dateline, CNN, The History Channel, National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, the BBC, Fresh Air, other major NPR shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the Colbert Report, and other top media outlets. A widely sought after lecturer, and winner of numerous university awards and grants, Professor Ehrman is the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope “Spirit of Inquiry” Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.

Cities and Sites on the Itinerary

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Phone : +1 866.633.3611