Saturday, November 05, 2005

Damascus


At the time of Jesus Damascus was an Aramaic speaking city. Since Palestine was part of Roman Syria, Christianity arose from Syria. Jerusalem, Damascus and Antioch were all important Christian centers and all were part of Roman Syria. Pontius Pilate was subserviant to the Govenor of Syria.
Of course Damascus is famous for the conversion of Paul. Obviously, the church in Damascus predated Paul since he went there to persecute Christians before he had his "Damascus Road" experience. Damascus was a place of refuge for people persecuted by the Jews in Jerusalem as is known from the Dead Sea Scroll called "the Damascus Document".
Syria still has a vibrant Christian population. Places visited by St. Paul have been preserved such as "the Street called Straight" (Acts 9:11) and Bab Kishan, where Paul escaped from the city in a basket. As Paul says, "In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped from his hands" (2 Corinthians11:32-33). Luke mentions in Acts that certain Jews in Damascus were plotting to murder Paul (Acts 9:23).
While the place in the picture here is undoutably the place visited by Paul, this basket is only a re-creation of the one used by Paul. The woman in the picture is my dear friend, Lina.
Aramaic is spoken in certain villages outside of Damascus. Certain Syrian Christians in Damascus worship in Aramaic but don't speak the language.

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