Mark Fairchild received his Ph.D. from Drew University in New Testament Studies with additional coursework at Princeton Theological Seminary and Union Theological Seminary. Dr. Fairchild is the chair of the Department of Bible and Religion at Huntington University. His primary interests involve research in ancient Anatolia, and he has visited over 250 ancient sites throughout Turkey and has taken over 200,000 high resolution photographs, many of which have been reproduced in various publications. In 1992, he collaborated with 11 other scholars at Yeshiva University, exploring the Greek encounter with Judaism during the Hellenistic Period. In 2002, he joined 20 other scholars at the University of Chicago to investigate societal transformations and the legitimization of power in the early Islamic states. Dr. Fairchild’s interest in ancient Greek, Jewish, Christian and Islamic relations continues today, and he is currently the Program Director for the Ephesus Meeting, an academic conference at the ancient site of Ephesus in Turkey. Recently, Dr. Fairchild was invited to address the Turkish Embassy in Washington D.C. and the World Affairs Council.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017
Paul, the God Fearers and the Cult of Theos Hypsistos
On his journeys Paul travelled to cities, towns and villages that included Jewish populations. Rather than preaching at the agora, as one might expect, Paul’s pattern (according to the Acts of the Apostles) was to first preach at the synagogue. There at the synagogue Paul frequently encountered a group of people known as “God Fearers” - Gentiles who abandoned polytheism, adopted monotheism and were interested in what the Jews had to say about God. Many of these God Fearers embraced the Gospel and became the first Christians in cities throughout Anatolia and Greece. In recent years more than 375 Greek inscriptions have been found that mention the cult of “the highest God” (Theos Hypsistos). These were Gentiles who supported only one God, although they may have been monotheists or henotheists. Was there a connection between the God Fearers and the worshippers of Theos Hypsistos? Did Paul encounter the worshippers of Theos Hypsistos?
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIX, November 18 – 20, 2016
Wealth and Poverty in the Lycus River Valley: Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis and Tripolis
The Lycus River Valley was the chief route for travel and commerce from inland Asia Minor to the major Aegean seaports of Smyrna, Ephesus and Miletus. As such, the large cities at the confluence of the Maeander River and the Lycus River stood to prosper. The strategic position of these cities also drew Christianity to Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis and Tripolis in the middle of the first century. The allure of wealth caused problems among Christians who were instructed to store up treasure in heaven, rather than upon earth. The issue became a particular dilemma for the churches of the Lycus River Valley near the end of the first century when Christians were forced to choose between wealth and their faith.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
The Apostle Paul and the School of Tyrannos
In order to evangelize Asia Minor, Paul realized that the work was much larger than what he could accomplish on his own. Thus, Paul began training others to carry on the ministry. Much of the idle time spent traveling the roads from city to city was devoted to training his companions. Later after Paul arrived at Ephesus, a patron by the name of Tyrannos provided him with a lecture hall which Paul used to train disciples for two years. These disciples went out into the smaller cities, towns and villages of Asia Minor with the Gospel message so that Luke could say “all of Asia Minor heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:10). Archaeological work in Ephesus and Asia Minor have filled in the picture of what was happening in the region during the first century. The lecture will be accompanied by a slide show illustrating the subject.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 - 23, 2014
Graven Images and the Jewish Communities at Perge and Aphrodisias
A cardinal tenet of Judaism is the ban on graven images. As one of the Ten Commandments, the Jews interpreted this ban not only as a prohibition of idols, but also a ban on the production and possession of all images of gods, people and animals. This is reflected in the dearth of statues and reliefs found by archaeologists among Jewish communities in Palestine. Even the coins of Palestine show evidence of the ban. Provincial and Imperials coins from across the Mediterranean region almost always contain images of gods, animals, provincial governors, or members of the imperial family. However, coins minted in Judaea never have such images. Two cities in ancient Anatolia (Turkey) were known to be centers for the production of sculpture, sarcophagi, reliefs and the creation of stone artwork: Perge and Aphrodisias. We also know that there were large Jewish communities in Perge and Aphrodisias. Were Jews in these cities involved in the production, distribution and sale of graven images? If so, how can these occupations be reconciled with the second commandment?
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVI, November 22 - 24, 2013
Why Did John Mark Depart from the Anatolian Mission (Acts 13:13)?
One of the great mysteries of Paul’s Journeys is why John Mark abruptly abandoned the mission midway through the first journey (Acts 13:13-14). After traveling through all of Cyprus and then continuing the journey up to Perga, why did John Mark suddenly quit and head back home? A related question pertains to the precise route taken by the apostle from Perga to Pisidian Antioch. This paper argues that these two issues are related. That is, John Mark departed from the mission after learning that Paul planned a perilous journey through inhospitable regions and over grueling and hazardous mountain passes to Pisidian Antioch. But why did Paul plan such a journey? This paper suggests that Paul chose a route that would have connected him with Jewish communities along the way. Paul tells us that he deliberately traveled to cities that possessed Jewish enclaves. The paper presentation will include slides illustrating the journey of Paul and Barnabas.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 - 18, 2012
Pirates, Synagogues and Curses in Cilicia
Piracy was rife throughout the Anatolian Mediterranean coast during the Hellenistic Period. The problem eventually became so disruptive for trade and the transport of grain to the emerging and expanding Roman Empire that the Senate appointed their most effective general, Pompey, to deal with the problem. The region of Cilicia was particularly plagued with piracy and several cities on the coast were controlled by pirates. Recently, two synagogues have been discovered in the western portion of Cilicia, which is known as Rough Cilicia. Additionally, an inscription has been found that refers to a Jewish community in the area. The inscription is a decree issued by the members of the synagogue and refers to persons who have been excluded from synagogue activities as well as curses that had been issued to unknown individuals. The decree attempts to revoke these curses and to bring about reconciliation with those who had been excluded. Is there a connection between the Jewish community in Cilicia and the pirates? This presentation offers some suggestions as to how the Jewish community responded to the prevalent pirate culture that surrounded them.
The Journeys of Paul in Turkey and Greece, May 4 - 18, 2013