History shows that St. Paul had “Jewish” Facial Features and not “Aryan” Features
By foot over hot, dusty, steep roads, by jouncing horse cart, by rocky sailboat, St. Paul the Apostle journeyed the length of the eastern coast of Anatolia from Antioch-on-the-Orontes (Antakya) to Alexandria Troas (Odun Iskelesi south of Troy) during the middle years of the first century.
“I have been constantly on the road,” Paul wrote. “I have met dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my fellow countrymen, dangers from foreigners, dangers in towns, dangers in the country, dangers at sea, dangers from false friends. I have toiled and drudged, I have often gone without sleep; hungry and thirsty, I have often gone fasting; and I have suffered from cold and exposure.”
Beginning with Antioch about A.D. 40, Paul’s influence and that of the early disciples spread Christianity throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Three centuries later Christianity had become the major religion of Asia Minor.
The tentmaker: Paul was born in Tarsus, today a busy city in one of the richest agricultural regions of Turkey. As a boy he learned the trade of tent making. While studying in Jerusalem he was an accomplice in the stoning of Stephen, the first Christian martyr. But later, after seeing a vision of Jesus, he devoted himself body, mind and spirit to preaching Christ’s word.
Paul’s career as a disciple started when a follower of Jesus, Barnabas, called him to work in Antioch (Antakya) in A.D. 43.
The people whom Paul met in Antioch must have influenced his thinking. Of those attending the synagogue, there were Gentiles who had been attracted to the moral virtues they found in Judaism. Paul held firmly to the prime article of Jewish law: “The lord is our God, one Lord.”
While other Jews believed they could be faithful to the law only by keeping to their own community, for Paul, God’s very oneness meant that Jesus, who announced God’s kingdom, was calling to all the people. Thus Paul’s mission came to be focused on the Gentiles.
Paul was not always successful. He resented it when his companions, John, Mark and Barnabas, found him overzealous. Even in some of the churches he started there were many who did not like him. He often ran afoul of the law and was imprisoned more than once for his beliefs.
Bitter experiences: In spite of all this, it has to be because of Paul’s own bitter experiences and his inner certitude that he could understand and communicate across the ages his insight into Christ’s teachings as the fulfillment of the law.
Considering that St. John wrote to the Christians in Laodicea (near Pamukkale), Thyatira (Akhisar), Sardis (east of Izmir), and Philadelphia (Alasehir), which could have been on Paul’s route between Galatia, Phrygia and Ephesus, it is quite possible that Paul had visited them in addition to Ephesus where we know he spent a lot of time. It is also possible that he went to the others of John’s “Seven Churches of Revelation” (Smyrna or Izmir and Pergamum or Bergama as they are called now).
Places where he definitely stopped off at are exceedingly interesting.
Temple of Daphne: Antioch-on-the-Orontes (Antakya) was an important commercial and educational center, enriched by handsome public buildings. Known as a sports and recreation center, celebrations honoring Apollo were held at the Temple to Daphne in a sacred woods southwest of the city.
Among its bustling population of nearly a half million people was an important Jewish segment. Some of these people had fled Jerusalem during the persecutions of people who were friends of Stephen. In Antioch, the movement grew, and soon its members began using a name – Christians, the followers of Christ – to identify themselves.