About Mark Fairchild

Mark Fairchild

Dr. Fairchild received his Ph.D. from Drew University and is currently the professor of New Testament Studies in the Department of Bible and Religion at Huntington University. Fairchild has published several articles on research dealing with the ancient cities of Turkey in journals such as New Testament Studies, the Journal of Ancient Judaism and Biblical Archaeology Review. His book, Christian Origins in Ephesus and Asia Minor is currently available in its second edition (Hendrickson, 2017). More recently in 2019, Fairchild wrote two chapters for the Lexham Geographic Commentary: “Barnabas, John Mark and Their Early Ministry on Cyprus,” and “Paul’s Syrian and Cilician Ministry: The Silent Years.”

Fairchild travels to Turkey every year for research and has visited over 500 ancient sites throughout Asia Minor. In addition to Turkey, he has traveled to several other regions in the eastern Mediterranean and has taken over 400,000 high resolution photographs of the Holy Lands. Fairchild has held lectures and seminars for tour guides in the Holy Lands and commonly leads tours to these places for various groups.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, Fairchild was chosen for a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar award. During that time, Fairchild will collaborate with scholars and archaeologists at Uludağ University in Bursa (Turkey). Research will involve work at the underwater basilica discovered at Iznik (ancient Nicea) as well as continuing research in the ancient sites of Cilicia.

Presenter at

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXIV, October 16 – 17, 2021
The Underwater Basilica at Iznik (Nicea)

In 2014 aerial photography exposed a structure about one hundred and seventy feet offshore, beneath the waters of Lake Iznik. In 2015 Professor Mustafa Şahin, head of the Archeaology Department at Uludağ University in Bursa began excavations at the site. Subsequent investigations revealed the structure to be an ancient basilica. Several graves were discovered with tombs buried below the floor of the structure. Continuing work at the site suggests that the basilica was a church, originally constructed as a martyrion. Traditions from Nicea relate the martyrdom of Neophytos in AD 303 at Nicea. Additionally, the early date and location of the basilica indicate that this structure may have been the location of the acclaimed Council of Nicea in AD 325. Julia de Sigoyer, Professor of Tectonics at the French University of Grenoble Alpes, along with Şahin and myself are involved in research to determine the history and function of the basilica as well as to understand how the basilica sunk below the waters of the lake. Noted French filmmaker Pascal Guérin is producing a documentary film to describe the discovery and research.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXII, November 22 – 24, 2019
Satan’s Throne at Pergamon: Where Was It?

John’s cryptic reference to Pergamon as the place of Satan’s throne (Revelation 2:13) has stirred up considerable interest and debate. Pergamon had a notable history as the seat of the Pergamene Kingdom for one hundred and fifty years, controlling all of western Asia Minor, before ceding the territory to the Romans in 133 BCE. Thereafter, there was nothing to distinguish the city from others in the region. The city was large, but no more so than two other cities mentioned among the seven churches, Ephesus and Smyrna. So, what caused John to target Pergamon with such a vitriolic title? This lecture will look into the various explanations of Satan’s throne and will posit a solution based upon the present remains in the city.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXI, November 16 – 18, 2018
Paul’s Little Known Mission to Cilicia

The Acts of the Apostles records three epic journeys of Paul through Cyprus, Anatolia, Macedonia and Greece. However, nothing is mentioned about an earlier ministry of Paul in Cilicia. Paul briefly recounted this mission in Galatians 1:21: “Then I went into the districts of Syria and Cilicia.” But, the apostle added no details and related nothing more about this journey in his other writings. There are hints of this mission in Acts 15, where it was reported that churches were established earlier in Cilicia. Were these churches founded by Paul before he participated in the missions recorded in Acts? What more can be known about this area and Paul’s work in this area?

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

Selected Articles by Mark Fairchild