In the contact of East and West originates the movement of history. The historical
position of Christianity cannot be rightly understood except in its relation to this
immemorial meeting and conflict. The present book is based on the view that Christianity
is the religion which associates East and West in a higher range of thought than either
can reach alone, and tends to substitute a peaceful union for the war into which the
essential difference of Asiatic and European character too often leads the two continents.
So profound is the difference, that in their meeting either war must result, or each of
them must modify itself. There is no power except religion strong enough to modify both
sufficiently to make a peaceful union possible; and there is no religion but Christianity
which is wholly penetrated both with the European and with the Asiatic spirit--so
penetrated that many are sensitive only to one or the other.
Only a divine origin is competent to explain the perfect union of Eastern and Western
thought in this religion. It adapted itself in the earliest stages of its growth to the
great Graeco-Asiatic cities with their mixed population and social system, to Rome, not as
the Latin city, but as the capital of the Greek-speaking world, and to Corinth as the
halting-place between Greek Asia and its capital. Several chapters of the present book are
devoted to an account of the motley peoples and manners of those cities. The adaptation of
Christianity to the double nationality can be best seen in the Apocalypse, because there
the two elements which unite in Christianity are less perfectly reconciled than in any
other book of the New Testament. The Judaic element in the Apocalypse has been hitherto
studied to the entire neglect of the Greek element in it. Hence it has been the most
misunderstood book in the New Testament.
The collision of East and West throughout history has been a subject of special
interest to the present writer from early youth; and he has watched for more than
twenty-five years the recent revival of the Asiatic spirit, often from a very close point
of view. In 1897, in a book entitled Impressions of Turkey, he tried to analyse and
describe, as he had seen it, "the great historic movement" through which
"Mohammedanism and Orientalism have gathered fresh strength to defy the feeling of
Europe." It is now becoming plain to all that the relation of Asia to Europe is in
process of being profoundly changed; and very soon this will be a matter of general
discussion. The long-unquestioned domination of European over Asiatic is now being put to
the test, and is probably coming to an end. What is to be the issue? That depends entirely
on the influence of Christianity, and on the degree to which it has affected the aims both
of Christian and of non-Christian nations: there are cases in which it has affected the
latter almost more than the former. The ignorant European fancies that progress for the
East lies in Europeanising it. The ordinary traveller in the East can tell that it is as
impossible to Europeanise the Asiatic as it is to make an Asiatic out of a European; but
he has not learned that there is a higher plane on which Asia and Europe may "mix and
meet." That plane was once in an imperfect degree reached in the Graeco-Asiatic
cities, whose creative influence in the formation of Roman and modern society is beginning
to be recognised by some of the latest historical students, and the new stage towards
which Christianity is moving, and in which it will be better understood than it has been
by purely European thought, will be a synthesis of European and Asiatic nature and ideas.
This book is a very imperfect essay towards the understanding of that synthesis, which
now lies before us as a possibility of the immediate future. How imperfect it is has
become clearer to the writer as in the writing of it he came to comprehend better the
nature of the Apocalypse.
The illustrations are intended to be steps in the argument. The Apocalypse reads the
history and the fate of the Churches in the natural features, the relations of earth and
sea, winds and mountains, which affected the cities; this study distinguishes some of
those influences; and the Plates furnish the evidence that the natural features are not
misapprehended in the study.
The Figures in the text are intended as examples of the symbolism that was in ordinary
use in the Greek world; the Apocalypse is penetrated with this way of expressing thought
to the eye; and its symbolic language is not to be explained from Jewish models only (as
is frequently done). It was written to be understood by the Graeco-Asiatic public; and the
Figures prove that it was natural and easy for those readers to understand the symbolism.
Most of the subjects are taken from coins of the Imperial period; and hearty thanks are
due to Mr. Head of the British Museum for casts from originals under his care. If the
style of the coins were the subject of study, photographic reproductions would be
required. But what we are here interested in is the method of expressing ideas by visible
forms; and a line drawing, which brings out the essential facts, is more useful for our
purpose. Examples are very numerous, and this small selection gives rather the first that
came to hand than the best that might be chosen.
Thanks are due to Miss A. Margaret Ramsay for drawing twenty-two of the Figures, to
Miss Mary Ramsay for two, and to Mr. John Hay for twelve.
In several cases it is pointed out that the spirit which is revealed in the natural
features of the city was recognised in ancient times, being expressed by orators in
counselling or flattering the citizens, and becoming a commonplace in popular talk. It is
right to point out that in every case the impressions, gained first of all immediately
from scenery, were afterwards detected in the ancient writers (who usually express them in
obscure and elaborately rhetorical style).
The writing of a series of geographical articles in Dr. Hastings' Dictionary of the
Bible greatly facilitated the preparation of the present book, though the writer has
learned much since, often as a result of writing those articles.
It has not been part of the writer's purpose to describe the Seven Cities as they are
at the present day. That was done in a series of articles by Mrs. Ramsay in the British
Monthly, November, 1901, to May, 1902, better than he could do it. He has in several
places used ideas and illustrations expressed in the articles, and some of the photographs
which were used in them are here reproduced afresh.
Special thanks to Moza, a research member of Philologos
and the Bible Prophecy Research Mailing List, for
providing this electronic copy. THIS BOOK HAS BEEN EDITED. Any corrections or questions
may be directed to the address below: