Ancient Churches of Cyprus

On May 22, 2023, of the Cyprus tour, we drive east from Limassol to see Panayia Angeloktisti in the village of Kiti. This ancient church contains a beautiful, fifth-century mosaic of Mary and Jesus. Then we drive into Larnaca to see the ninth-century Church of St. Lazarus with its beautiful iconostasis and its basement crypt with the supposed tomb of Lazarus. A few blocks away we tour a medieval fort located right on the seacoast. From Larnaca, we drive a short distance to the beautiful mountain village of Lefkara where we have free time for you to stroll the narrow streets, stopping to see Lefkara lace and silver jewelry made by local artisans and/or tour the ethnological museum and the Church of the Holy Cross with its many icons. Then we drive south to the coastal village of Zygi, where we will have a splendid seafood dinner outdoors by the sea.

4th century apse of Panayia Angeloktisti
Church of St. Lazarus in Larnaca
Village lane in Lefkara
Church of the Holy Cross in Lefkara

Ethnological Museum
Fishing boat at Zygi
Sunset over Zygi harbor


Paphos, Cyprus

May 21, the second full day of the Cyprus tour, will be more ambitious than the first day. We drive west to Paphos to enjoy wonderful archaeological sites, eat lunch by the harbor at cafes of our choice, enjoy the splendid mosaics (tomorrow’s post), see the legendary Paul’s pillar, walk among the opulent burial houses at the tombs at the kings, and stop on the way back to Limassol to see the rock where (according to legend) Aphrodite first emerged from the sea foam.

The picturesque harbor at Paphos draws many people.
At the end of the harbor is a Medieval fortress that you may tour if you wish.
Site of the ancient Panagia Chrysopolitissa complex. According to legend, the short, white pillar in front of the tree is where Paul was bound and beaten.
Tombs of the kings—actually just tombs for very wealthy people. The word necropolis designates such sites. Necros in Greek means dead, and polis means city (city of the dead).
The top of this tomb is ground level. Standing by a pillar, my wife gives perspective on the size of this home of the dead. Numerous niches may be seen in these tombs.
Aphrodite’s Rock. No, the young woman swimming in the Mediterranean is not Aphrodite emerging from the sea.

Cyprus Tour, May 20, 2023

On May 20 of the Cyprus tour, we will have an easy day (jet lag is real!). We will take a short ride (driving on the left side of the road) to the Crusader fortress at Kolossi. Then we go to the nearby, much earlier, expansive archaeological site of the Roman city of Kourion to see the many buildings and artifacts uncovered by archaeologists. Then we return to Limassol for a leisurely stroll along the harbor walk into the old city.

Kolossi Fortress built in 1454 by French crusaders.
Inside Kolossi Castle. Note the thickness of the walls.
The large Roman city of Kourion was built with a lovely view of the Mediterranean Sea. We will see the theater, opulent homes, and the many other remains of this city.
Romans loved their baths and saunas. The short brick pillars in this photo once supported the floor of a huge room. Hot air from fires on the perimeter was circulated under the floor to heat the entire area.
This mosaic in Kourion depicts a scene with two gladiators.

Parables turn expectations upside down

To illustrate how parables function, invent ways to turn student expectations upside down

On the day we discussed the parable of the unscrupulous steward (Luke 16:1–9) in my parables class, I began by recounting a news report about wealthy people manipulating the judicial system. I told them I downloaded the following report from a news website.

Bank CEO receives verdict

Haliburton Thompson III appeared before a special Senate hearing on Wednesday to hear the results of a yearlong investigation into his role in the meltdown of the banking system. Thompson sat without expression, waiting to hear the committee chair read the report.

While photographers clicked their cameras and lawyers fidgeted with their reams of reports, the chair rapped his gavel and called for silence. With a grave face he read the following statement:

“Mr. Thompson, after a thorough investigation we have determined the following:

  1. You placed a massive amount of your investors’ retirement contributions into highly volatile funds that made you a very rich man.
  2. You had credible information that these funds were going to crash, but instead of informing your clients of the imminent danger, you delivered a statement on the robust financial health of your firm. Then you withdrew all of your personal investments in the hedge funds and placed them into stable securities.
  3. As a consequence, you walked away with $32 million, and your investors lost a total of $5.2 billion. Many of them had their retirement funds almost completely decimated, reducing them to poverty.
  4. Because you were in the third year of a five-year contract with your bank, the board of trustees of the bank paid you a severance package of $15 million to buy out the last two years of your contract.
  5. Because of your shrewd team of lawyers, we were not able to prove that you actually broke any laws; although it is obvious that you destroyed many of your investors while personally enriching yourself.
  6. Therefore, we on this special investigation committee would like to commend you for your shrewd business transactions. Through your own self-serving maneuvering, you have become a model for all money managers in the USA who seek to take advantage of investors to enrich themselves.
  7. This hearing is now closed. The committee will now adjourn so we may have lunch with Mr. Thompson.

My students were listening to what they thought was an actual news report, but at the end they realized something was amiss. By inventing a report on a contemporary issue, I got their attention and illustrated how the parable of the wicked manager violates any expectations of the listeners that justice will be served. A lively discussion followed. My story, like some of Jesus’s parables, outraged those who heard it. Many parables are like jokes. The punch line surprises or even shocks listeners and elicits a visceral response. But the story needs to address contemporary concerns for listeners to feel the punch in their gut. For more information on parables, see Interpreting Biblical Literature, pp. 319–341.

Color photos for The Storyteller from Kalo Chorio

This week, I received copies of The Storyteller from Kalo Chorio. The formatting of the book is nice, but the clarity of the photos is disappointing. I provided clear black-and-white photos, but print-on-demand does a poor job of reproducing these pictures. I wish the photos in the book were better, but by publishing through Kindle, I was able to keep the cost of the book low. To see clear, color versions of the photos, go to the following web site:

Then click on the blue box that says “Full-color versions of the book photographs.” That will take you to the photos page. Enjoy the book. This story of Dafnis will make you laugh, cry, and ponder significant issues of life.

Cyprus in Spring

I am seriously considering postponing my Cyprus tour from November 2022 to May or June 2023. Would you be interested in exploring Cyprus with me next spring? Because of the possible change of date, I need to know soon.

Cyprus is one of the safest places in the Middle East to visit. Rich in scenery, history, and culture, the island is a tourist magnet for Europeans. Although the population of the island is only a little over one million, nearly four million tourists visit Cyprus each year. Traveling to Cyprus before the peak season begins will allow us to avoid large crowds and summer heat—and get better deals on lodging and food.

Airlines have improved air circulation on their jets, thus reducing the threat of catching diseases during trans-Atlantic flights. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses no danger to Cyprus, which is far to the south of Ukraine.

Let me know what questions you have about this trip. Cyprus is one of my favorite places in the world.


A cellar in Bella Pais Abbey. Those who have read Lawrence Durrell’s “Bitter Lemons of Cyprus” will know about the village in which this abbey is located.
Cyprus is a great place to experience a Greek culture. I took this photo during a special liturgy at a small, mountain church.
Cyprus has many interesting Medieval structures, such as Kolossi Castle just west of Limassol.
St. Nicholas Cathedral in the old city of Famagusta.

What a delightful read!

Last Summer Boys, by Bill Rivers

One of the best books I have read in years. I commend Bill Rivers for producing a wonderful novel. As my wife and I read it aloud to each other, at times we laughed out loud at the antics of the boys in the book. Narrated by 13-year-old Jack, the story brims full of levity of childhood and the angst rampant in the nation during the summer of 1968. I graduated from high school in 1968 and remember facing the draft and the very real possibility of going to fight in Viet Nam—a major theme in Last Summer Boys. I recommend this novel without hesitation, which is something I can do with very few books—especially those offered in Amazon’s First Reads.