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Cappadocian Fathers; Anatolian lands and especially Cappadocia have a very important place in the spread of Christianity, which is a Jerusalem-centered religion. Christians, who fled persecution in the past, continued their lives here in order to be able to worship freely and to be protected from possible attacks. The region, which became the center of Christianity in the 4th century, hosted many Councils in which the doctrines that formed the pillars of the religion were determined.
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Discovery of the Region
Cappadocian Fathers; Cappadocia, which has a deep-rooted history of 1000 years with the monotheistic religions, has been one of the most important settlement areas of Anatolia in terms of history, culture and politics since ancient times. The people who discovered the region over time used the caves they carved from tuff rocks (fairy chimneys) as a settlement due to the climate and geographical structure. These caves not only protected them from the harsh cold in the region where the continental steppe climate prevails, but also allowed them to hide in the face of all kinds of dangers.
In pre-Christian Cappadocia, there were polytheistic religions and their cult centers. These religions were brought to Cappadocia, which is known to be an important transit center, by the Hittites, Persians and Greeks. Before the emergence of Christianity, Judaism dominated the region and paved the way for the spread of Christianity. So much so that the first Christian preachers preached in synagogues and synagogues to spread their religion.
Cappadocian Fathers; Born of Mary in the city of Bethlehem, Palestine, Jesus was trying to spread his religion by visiting villages, towns and cities in Palestine one by one with his Twelve Apostles who believed in him and adopted the new religion when he was thirty years old. But the growing number of believers in Jesus was perceived as a threat by the existing religious authority, so the Jews wanted to kill Jesus.
In fact, they had no legal basis to accuse Jesus. Nor did they have the authority to impose the death penalty, and they feared public reaction. In order to get rid of this confusion, they complained to Pontius Pilate, the Governor of the State of Judea (Praefectus) of the time, with the claim of committing crimes against the state, and demanded that he be arrested. Their justification was the assumption that Jesus claimed to be “the messiah” and that those who made this claim eventually “caused turmoil and internal rebellion.”
Anatolian lands and especially Cappadocia have a very important place in the spread of Christianity, which is a Jerusalem-centered religion. Christians, who fled persecution in the past, continued their lives here in order to be able to worship freely and to be protected from possible attacks.
Cappadocian Fathers; Pilate feared that arresting and killing Jesus would increase the resistance in Judea against Roman domination. However, he was worried that he would be put in a difficult position and his political position would be shaken in the face of the Jewish clergy with whom he had previously collaborated against those who rebelled against Rome. Pilate was compelled to give the death penalty, albeit reluctantly. Now Jesus was to be arrested on sight and executed by crucifixion.
Not long after, Judas (Judas), one of Jesus’ apostles, betrayed him by declaring Jesus to the Sanhedrin in exchange for 30 silver/golds after the “Last Supper”. Arrested by Roman soldiers, Jesus was later crucified in Jerusalem by Pontius Pilate for “inciting the people to rebellion”.
- After Judas, Matthew was brought between the Twelve Apostles by the other apostles.
- For centuries, churches have held Jews responsible for Jesus’ death in their teachings, refusing to accept that Jesus was killed by the Roman Empire because he was seen as a threat to rule.
- Pontius Pilate is known as the official who presided over Jesus’ trial and then ordered his crucifixion. However, there are also comments that Pontius Pilate refused to judge Jesus. Although there are different dialogues in different parts of the Bible, Christian sources essentially agree on this issue.
- While the Christian belief believes that Jesus was crucified and then resurrected, the Islamic belief believes that Jesus did not die on the cross, that he was raised to heaven by God, and someone else appeared instead.
- Although the current religious authority in the region at the time of the events was Judaism, paganism was dominant in the Roman Empire.
- The Jews believed that Jesus should be stoned to death. However, Pilate decided to carry out the execution by crucifixion, taking into account Roman law.
Entrance to Anatolia
Cappadocian Fathers; It is the work of Juan Sánchez Cotán (1560 – 1627). It is exhibited in the Monastery “Cartuja de Granada” in Granada. After the “death” of Jesus, the 12 Apostles dispersed from Palestine in order to get rid of these severe oppressions and to spread the teachings of Jesus, and they sought a suitable environment and suitable geography for the acceptance and advancement of the new religion.
In this process, many of them set foot on Anatolian lands, invited people to this new religion and engaged in missionary activities. As a matter of fact, the first times were quite troubled, but still Christianity continued to gain followers and supporters.
Cappadocian Fathers; There are two different views that the person who brought Christianity to Anatolian lands and spread it there was Peter or Paul, who traveled with Barnabas in the 50s. Although there is no clear information about who established Christianity here, it is understood from the information given by the New Testament that there were people who accepted Christianity in the Cappadocia Region while the apostles were still alive, that is, before about 65 years.
Cappadocian Fathers; After a while, Christian scholars who reached the Cappadocia region encountered a Jewish community. After being accepted by the Jews, they decided to stay here due to the suitability of their living conditions and started working on the teachings of Jesus.
These people, who worshiped and preached in the Synagogues at first, created a Christian community from time to time. Thus, Cappadocia became one of the favorite settlements of Christians living in the Early Christian Period.
Cappadocian Fathers; The most important factor that caused the formation of Christianity in Cappadocia is the “Cappadocian Fathers” (Church Fathers) who grew up in that region. The names of these personalities are respectively;
- Basil the Great/Saint Basil, bishop of Caesarea (329–379)
- Gregory of Nyssa (332-395), bishop of Nyssa and younger brother of Basil
- Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389), Patriarch of Constantinople and close friend of Basil
Cappadocian Fathers; Basil was born in 329 AD in the region known as Caesarea (Kayseri). Some sources mention that his family was in a privileged position with the lands he owned in the Pontus Region and that he took a heroic stance when Rome oppressed the Christians. Known as the “Great” in Western literature for his contributions to Christian theology, Basil, together with his close friend Gregory of Nazianzus and his younger brother Gregory, formed the “Fathers of Cappadocia” trio.
Cappadocian Fathers; Basil devoted part of his life to education, working on Christian Theology, Philosophy and Rhetoric. In this process, he lived in Istanbul (348-350) and Athens (351-356), which can be considered important education centers of the period, and then returned to Kayseri in 356.
He used his education and knowledge to explain Christian creeds such as the Holy Spirit, to contribute to the principles of the Trinity, and to struggle with the ideas of Arius (Aryanism or Aryanism). Basil the Great (Basíleios), who devoted himself to defending the decisions of the Council of Nicaea and administering Christian charity, died in Caesarea in 379 AD.
Cappadocian Fathers; In the period of the “Cappadocian Fathers”, when Christianity was shaped, the doctrines that formed the basis of religion were determined; The region, which became more livable with clear and clear religious rules or facts, began to receive more Christian immigration from outside.
However, the real population growth in the region occurred during the period when Leon III (685-741 AD) banned icons as religious artworks. In this period, which lasted for more than a century and was called Iconoclasm, those who did not support the decision taken, who thought that their religious values were interfered with and who wanted to live their faith freely, found the solution to migrate to Cappadocia.
Departure from Cappadocia
Cappadocian Fathers; Another event that took place during the reign of Leon III and whose results affected Cappadocia was the Arab influx of Anatolian lands. As a result of Arab influx of the lands from Armenia to the Central Anatolian region, the Christians who fled/left these lands found the solution to migrate to Cappadocia, just like the others.
Especially between the 11th and 12th centuries, the Christians, who had a trouble-free period under the rule of the Seljuk Dynasty and then the Ottoman Empire, left Cappadocia, or were forced to leave Cappadocia, with the population exchange between Turkey and Greece between 1924-1926, leaving beautiful architectural examples behind.