It’s Istanbul, Not Constantinople…..

At any given moment in time, it could all be taken away.
Out of four previous trips to Turkey, I had not stayed in Istanbul once. Not once. I’ve layed over there and flown through, but I had never actually stayed in Istanbul and seen the city.
This trip around, my fifth trip to Turkey, I finally stayed an extra three days there. And leave it to me to pick a weird of weird times to stay there! It was the sacrifice holiday there, so imagine a city of 15 million people, and half of them are gone to spend the holiday with their families. Add back in another 3 million tourists from England, Saudi Arabia, and all over Europe, combined with the Grand Bazaar and Spice Bazaar being closed, and it really was a surreal trip. With only three days, we chose not to have an itinerary and just take in the city as it comes. The mosques, temples, and museums were all open, so we took in the major sights.
If you go, you definitely have to do the Bosphorus Boat Tour, it’s a great way to see the city by sea.
Taksim is the downtown area, and that’s where you’ll find the two Starbucks, a Shake Shack, and other American influences on the city!
It’s amazing that all the stuff that I would have only read out of a textbook, I was seeing right before my eyes. The museums and temples had remnants there from 3000 BC! All of my highschool history books were coming to life before my eyes!
The shopping was also pretty crazy especially if you’re into Turkish towels and textiles. The deals were great and the dollar conversion is pretty favorable.
The food is always good, no matter where you go. Most everything is prepared fresh and the fish and meat are all insanely good.
All in all, I had a great time, but then again, Turkey has always treated me good. I have a good feeling I’ll be back again, but who knows for how much longer??

And remember, It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople!

Verona – City of Love…..?

At any given moment in time, it could all be taken away.
This would be my third time in Verona and still I’m finding new sights, new restaurants, and new ways to see the city. It helped that I was with two newcomers, so I really did get to see the city and the show from different eyes.
It is a small city and there definitely are limitations, but for a typical 4 day stint, the food is great, the people are great, and there really is still so much history to take in. One of these days I’m going to catch an opera there, trust me.

Seized from smugglers, the leather-bound ‘gospel’ which Iran claims will bring down Christianity and shake world politics

PUBLISHED: 17:18 GMT, 24 May 2012 | UPDATED: 14:02 GMT, 25 May 2012

The text, written on animal hide, is thought to be an authentic version of the Gospel of Barnabas, one of Jesus’s disciples
‘Laughable’ Iranian report claims the book states that Jesus was never crucified and He predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad
It was discovered by Turkish authorities in 2000 during an anti-smuggling operation
The Vatican has made an official request to view the text

A leather-bound religious text, thought to date from the fifth century but discovered only 12 years ago, will cause the collapse of Christianity worldwide, claims Iran.
The book, written on animal hide, apparently states that Jesus was never crucified and that he himself predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad, according to the the Iranian press.
Written in Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic, the gospel even predicts the coming of the last Islamic messiah, the report adds.

Turkish authorities believe it could be an authentic version of the Gospel by Jesus’s disciple Barnabas, and the Iranian press report has claimed that its contents will trigger Christianity’s downfall by proving that Islam is the final and righteous religion.
Others have dismissed the Iranian claims as ‘laughable’ anti-Christian propaganda.
The Basij Press claims the text was written in the 5th or 6th century and it predicted the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of Islam. It says the Christian world denies the existence of such a gospel.

Basij claims that Chapter 41 of the Gospel reads: ‘God has hidden himself as Archangel Michael ran them (Adam and Eve) out of heaven, (and) when Adam turned, he noticed that at top of the gateway to heaven, it was written “La elah ela Allah, Mohamad rasool Allah”,’ meaning Allah is the only God and Mohammad his prophet.
Turkish authorities seized the text in 2000 in a crackdown on a gang who were charged with smuggling antiquities, illegal excavations and the possession of explosives.

But excitement at the find only peaked in February this year, when it was reported that the Vatican had made an official request to view the book. It is not known whether the request was granted.
Its origins are unknown, but National Turk reported that the book had been kept in the Justice Palace in the Turkish capital, Ankara, and was being transferred under armed police guard to the city’s Ethnography Museum.

Phil Lawler, writing on the Catholic Culture website, described the claim as a ‘laughable Iranian challenge to Christianity’.
He said: ‘If the document was written in the 5th or 6th century, it couldn’t very well have been written by someone who was traveling with St. Paul about 400 years earlier.
‘It must have been written by someone claiming to represent St. Barnabas. Should we accept that claim? Another good question.
‘Keep in mind that the dating of the document is critical. By the 7th century it didn’t take much foresight to ‘predict’ the appearance of Mohammad.’
The Basij report suggests that the discovery is so immense that it will shake world politics.
‘The discovery of the original Barnabas Bible will now undermine the Christian Church and its authority and will revolutionize the religion in the world,” it states.
‘The most significant fact, though, is that this Bible has predicted the coming of Prophet Mohammad and in itself has verified the religion of Islam.’
Although Turkish authorities believe the text to be genuine, other observers have questioned its authenticity.
Erick Stakelbeck, a terrorism analyst and a close observer of Iranian affairs, told ‘The Iranian regime is committed to stamping out Christianity by any means necessary.
‘Whether that means executing Christian converts, burning Bibles or raiding underground churches.’
Phil Lawler, writing on the Catholic Culture website, described the claim as a ‘laughable Iranian challenge to Christianity’.

Turkey’s 1500-Year-Old, $28M Bible Linked to Gospel of Barnabas?

February 23, 2012|3:05 pm
The Vatican has made an official request to gain access to a 1500-year-old Bible worth $28 million currently held by the Turkish government in Ankara, Turkey. There is speculation that the Bible may be a copy of the Gospel of Barnabas – a telling of Jesus’ ministry Muslims believe is part of the original Gospels.

Photocopies of the holy book’s pages are reportedly worth about $1.7 million, but the relic isn’t so extremely valuable just because of its age, but also because of its construction and its contents. The Bible is handwritten in gold lettering on loosely strung together animal hide and written in Syriac. Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic – Jesus’ native language. Aramaic itself is rarely present in today’s society, as it is now only spoken in a small village near Damascus.

The Gospel of Barnabas is not included in the New Testament alongside Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and in fact Barnabas opposes the New Testament and rather has clear similarities to the Muslim interpretation of Jesus. Barnabas even contains a story in which Jesus predicts the coming of Prophet Muhammad. Muslims believe this original gospel has been suppressed.

However, theology professor Ömer Faruk Harman told Today Zaman, “Muslims may be disappointed to see that this copy does not include things they would like to see and it might have no relation with the content of the Gospel of Barnabas.”

The Turkish government gained possession of the Bible back in 2000 when they caught a band of thieves and smugglers cutting through Turkey with the bible as well as other antiques, illegal excavations, and explosives.

The tome has been kept at the courthouse until recently, and is set to make its way, under heavy security, to Turkey’s Ankara Ethnography Museum. But before it settles there, the Vatican is hoping to get a chance to study and investigate the extremely valuable book.