An Overview of New Testament Geography

by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Student Goals:

to get a sense of the geographical  flow of the four canonical Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles;

to learn about the major NT events  that happened in the following Roman provinces and cities;

to be able to identify these  provinces and major cities (esp. the capitals) by location on a map:

see the long list of Online Maps from the"New Testament Gateway" website;

or see the collection of Bible Maps on this website (access restricted to current students)

or see the maps in the back of most  good "Study Bibles."

Notes:
Since borders frequently shifted, there are some  differences between the political geography at the time of the birth of Jesus  (ca. 4 BCE), the death of Jesus (ca. 30 CE), the ministry of Paul (ca. 40-64  CE), and the writing of the other NT books (ca. 70-100 CE).
  The names of the ROMAN PROVINCES (or other significant  regions) are in bold capital letters below; their first-century capital    cities are in bold italics; other important cities and towns are in small  bold print.
  PALESTINE (and Its Environs) during  the Lifetimes of Jesus & Paul; mostly ruled by the Herodian Dynasty:
  GALILEE - part of the Kingdom of Herod the  Great, 40-4 BCE; part of the Tetrarchy of Herod Antipas, 4 BCE - 39 CE
  Sepphoris & Tiberias - political capitals  during the first century, but not mentioned in the NT! (so was Jesus  ever there?)
  Nazareth, Nain, Cana - towns in the interior of Southern  Galilee
  Capernaum, Bethsaida, Magdala - towns on the shore of the  Sea of Galilee
  SAMARIA - core of ancient (Northern) Kingdom of Israel;  place of early Christian expansion (John 4; Acts 1:8; 8:1-25; 9:31; 15:3)
  Samaria or Sebaste - capital in ancient &  Herodian times (same place, name changed)
  JUDEA - at times a separate province; at other times a  sub-province of the Roman Province of SYRIA
  Jerusalem - Jewish capital; site of the Temple, thus  the center of religious and cultural Judaism, until its destruction in 70 CE
  Locations in/near Jerusalem,  especially in John's Gospel:  Pool of Bethesda, Pool of Siloam, Praetorium  of Pilate, House of Caiaphas, Gethsemane, Kidron Valley, Golgotha, etc.
  Jericho - possibly the world's oldest city; in the Jordan  river valley; Jesus gives sight to blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52 & par.)
  Bethany, Bethlehem, Emmaus, Arimathea - smaller villages  important in the four Gospels
  Caesarea - seat of Roman Government; site of Paul's  imprisonment (Acts 8:40; 9:30; 10:1-24; 11:11; 25:1-13; etc.)
  PEREA (Trans-Jordan) - region "across" the Jordan  river from Judea; also ruled by Herod Antipas, 4 BCE - 39 CE
  IDUMEA - the region south of Judea, conquered by the  Maccabean Jews in the 2nd cent. BC; original home of Herod the Great
  DECAPOLIS = "Ten Cities" - a league of ten  semi-independent Greek cities next to but not part of first-century Israel,  including Scythopolis, Pella, Gerasa, Gadara, Hippos, Dion, Philadelphia,  Abila, Raphana, and Damascus
  Roman PROVINCES important during the Expansion of Christianity  in the First Century:
  SYRIA - province including most of the Holy  Land up until 70 CE, except when parts are ruled by various Herods
  Damascus - ancient center of Syria; site of conversion of  Saul/Paul (Gal 1:17; 2 Cor 11:32; Acts 9:1-25; 22:5-11)
  Antioch - 3rd largest city of Roman  empire; early Christian center (Acts 11:19-30; 13:1-3; 14:24-15:35; 18:22-23)
  CILICIA - region of very early Christian missionary activity  (Gal 1:21; Acts 6:9; 15:23, 41; 23:34); today's SE Turkey
  Tarsus - home city of Saul/Paul; major university  (Acts 9:11, 30; 1:25; 21:39; 22:3)
  CYPRUS - island in Eastern Mediterranean; homeland of  Barnabas; first stop on first missionary journey of Barnabas & Paul (Acts  4:36; 11:19-20; 13:4-12; 15:39; etc.)
  Salamis & Paphos - two cities on Cyprus visited  by Barnabas & Paul (Acts 13:4-13)
  PAMPHYLIA - small coastal region south  of Galatia
  Perga - port city visited only briefly by Barnabas and Paul;  where John Mark left them (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25)
  GALATIA - distinguish the pre-Roman Kingdom of Galatia  (later called "Northern Galatia"), with capital Ancyra, and  the probable area of Pauline ministry in "Southern Galatia," incl. the regions of PISIDIA & LYCAONIA
  Antioch, Lystra, Derbe, Iconium - cities visited by Barnabas  & Paul in Southern Galatia (Acts 13:13-14:24; 16:1);
  note that this "Pisidian Antioch" is different from the "Syrian  Antioch" mentioned above
  MACEDONIA - area of "Europe"  where Pauline mission first spreads (Rom 15:26; 1Cor 16:5; 2Cor 1:16; Acts  16:6-17:15)
  Philippi - early Pauline community; Roman colony  (Philippians; 1 Thess 2:2; Acts 16:11-40; 20:6)
  Thessalonica - early Pauline community (1 & 2  Thessalonians; Acts 17:1-14, also nearby Beroea)
  ACHAIA - core region of ancient "Greece" (1 Thess  1:7-8; Rom 15:26; Acts 18:12, 27; 19:21)
  Athens - Pauline mission attempted, but unsuccessful (1  Thess 3:1; Acts 17:15-34)
  Corinth - major Pauline center (Acts 18:1-18;  20:2-3); many letters to & fro; trial before proconsul Gallio (Acts 18:12);
  its two ports were Lechaion and Cenchreae (Rom 16:1)
  ASIA (MINOR) - heavily populated region, in  modern-day South-Western Turkey; many famous cities, incl, most of the  "Seven Cities of Revelation" (Rev 2-3); ancient center in Pergamum
  Ephesus - major Pauline missionary base in mid-50's  (Eph; 1Cor 15:32; 16:8; 1Tim 1:3; Acts 18:19-19:41; 20:16-38); later also a  center of Johannine Christianity (Rev 1:11; 2:1)
  Colossae & Laodicea - Paul (or one of his followers)  wrote letters to the Christians in both these cities (Col 2:1; 4:13-16; also  Rev 1:11; 3:14)
  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia,  Laodicea - the cities of the seven churches of Revelation (Rev 1:11; 2:1--3:22)
  Patmos - small island in the Aegean Sea, near Ephesus; where  John, the author of Revelation, was (Rev 1:9)
  CRETE - large Mediterranean island south  of Aegean Sea; visited by Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:7-21; Titus 1:5)
  MALTA & SICILY - Mediterranean islands south of Italy;  also visited by Paul on his journey to Rome (Acts 27:39-28:10;  28:11-12)
  ITALIA - central Roman province covering  most of modern-day Italy (Acts 10:1; 18:2; 27:1-6; 28:11-15)
  Rome - capital of the entire empire; Christian  community there long before Paul (Romans; Acts 19:21; 23:11; 28:16-31)


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