Saturday, January 14, 2012

According to the archaeologist Francesco D'Andria, the tomb of the Apostle Philip has been found on site at ancient Hierapolis. The picture above was taken by me at Hierapolis in 2006 and is the walkway to the ancient ruins of Philip's Martyrion (or Martyrium) and the Church where the archaeologists have apparently located his tomb. The story states,
The tomb wasn’t discovered at the center of the octagonal hilltop martyrium as long expected, however, but in a newly excavated church about 40 yards away. D’Andria’s team found a first-century Roman tomb located at the center of the new church, which he says originally contained Philip’s remains.
The story goes on to talk about the fact that the 1st century tomb is now empty and that the remains, according to a number of traditions, were taken to Constantinople in the 6th century A.D. and perhaps even at a later date brought to Rome.

Whatever the case might be in terms of the location of the remains of Philip, ever since I have been to Hierapolis I have wondered, which Philip was commemorated here?

According to John 1:44 the Apostle Philip was from Bethsaida, the "city of Andrew and Peter." Philip is counted as one of the Apostles in all of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:18 and parr.). Philip the Apostle also appears in Acts 1:13.

But in Acts 6:5, a new Philip appears, one of the seven "deacons" (diakonoi in Greek) also known as Philip the evangelist. Philip the evangelist is at the center of a major story in Acts 8: 26-40, the baptism of the Ethopian eunuch. The next and last time we hear of Philip the evangelist is in Acts 21:8-9 and it gives us an interesting detail:

The next day we left and came to Caesarea; and we went into the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters who had the gift of prophecy.
There is no question that this is not the Apostle Philip - he is "one of the seven" - but the deacon or evangelist Philip. He also has four "unmarried" daughters - the Greek is actually parthenoi, "virgins" - who also were prophets.

The question of "which Philip" was buried in the Martyrion in Hierapolis arises because the ancient traditions associated with the Philip buried there also claim that he was buried with virgin daughters or with four daughters who were prophets. This would indicate the evangelist Philip was buried in Hierapolis, not the Apostle Philip.

I wonder if the excavations have lead to a confirmation that that this is indeed the Apostle Philip's tomb or a rejection of the claim that the evangelist Philip buried there was buried with some or all of his virgin daughters. Since the confusion goes back to the 2nd century A.D. it might be difficult to clear up, but does anyone have any additional information on this? Has Dr. Francesco D'Andria found definitive proof that this is the Apostle's tomb and not the evangelist's tomb?

John W. Martens

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