Kingdom History: The Plague of Justinian

Justinian was emperor of the Byzantine Empire from 527 A.D. to 565 A.D.

Justinian ruled from Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, the richest city in the world, and the capital of Christendom.

Constantinople was surrounded on three sides by water, and its land facing side was protected by wall 40 feet high and 4 miles long. That wall would successfully protect the city from invasion for 1,100 years.

In addition, the Byzantines had Greek Fire, the best kept secret and most powerful weapon of the medieval world, and only the Byzantines had it. It was the medieval equivalent of a nuclear weapon.

In 533 A.D. Justinian published the Institutes of Justinian, a codification of Roman law considered one of the great achievements in legal history, was published.

Then in 537 A.D. Justinian completed construction of the Hagia Sophia, the largest church in the world. It would remain the largest church in the world for the next 1,000 years.

I’m guessing then that by 537 A.D., Justinian was feeling pretty good about himself, his city, and his empire.

Then, in 542 A.D., the plague hit. As Julius Norwich described it in his History of Byzantium: Continue reading “Kingdom History: The Plague of Justinian”

Kingdom History: The Plague of Cyprian

Most people would say having a plague named after you is not something you’d hope for.

But all things considered it’s probably better than being forgotten.

In the case of Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, my guess he is would not complain.

Cyprian would know, as you now know, that the plague is named after him because of his letter describing how Christians should respond to the plague.

The letter has survived 1800 years and provides the most vivid description of a plague some contend changed the course of the Roman Empire.

The plague of Cyprian struck in 249 and hung around for nearly twenty years, although the worst of the plague was seen in the years 249 A.D. to 262. The plague was so contagious some believed it was passed through sight and others attributed it to “corrupted air” that had swept through the Roman Empire, but even worse, the symptoms were grisly and deadly. As Cyprian wrote: Continue reading “Kingdom History: The Plague of Cyprian”

3 Lessons From The Linens

Easter is my favorite day of the year.

It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death.

It’s the day we celebrate Jesus setting in motion the reversal of the curse and its corrupting influence on creation.

On Easter, I usually go back and read the Gospel account of the resurrection.

This morning was no different.

When I did, I read this:

“Simon Peter therefore also came following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled ups in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed.” John 20:6-8. Continue reading “3 Lessons From The Linens”

Viking Travel Journal––Epilogue

Replica Viking longship at Reykjavik museum

On the plane on the way back home, I watched the movie,Tolkien.

I enjoyed the movie, and highly recommend it.

But the movie failed to demonstrate the influence of Christianity in Tolkien’s life and his writing.

It was a fitting end to our Viking Travel Journal.

It reminded me of the uniqueness of the perspective of the GSB blog in general and the GSB travel journals specifically.

Historians write to impress other secular historians.

The travel industry is motivated to entertain the general public.

Neither are interested in showing how King Jesus has transformed and is transforming the world into the place He originally intended.

So, historians delve into Norse mythology hoping to find some nuance others have missed. Tourist guides,seeking to entertain their guests, tell their silly folk legends about trolls and elves. And, as a result, people miss out on the evidence of the most important event that has been in process for the last 2,000 years––the redemption of the planet by Jesus of Nazareth.

Continue reading “Viking Travel Journal––Epilogue”

Viking Travel Journal––Day 13

Godafoss, a fulcrum of history

Yesterday I wrote about the pagan chieftain who was instrumental in Iceland adopting Christianity.

His name is Thorgeir Ljosvetningagodi.

If you are wondering, his last name is spelled just like it sounds.

As I mentioned yesterday, after a a day and nights’ contemplation Thorgeir recommended to all the leaders at the assembly that Christianity be adopted and that those who wanted to could continue to practice paganism privately.

When Thorgeir returned to his village after the assembly, he gathered all his pagan idols, walked over to the waterfalls near his village, and threw the idols into the falls, hence the name Godafoss (“Waterfall of the gods”). Continue reading “Viking Travel Journal––Day 13”