Berea or Beroea was a city of the Hellenic and Roman era now known as Veria (or Veroia) in Macedonia, northern Greece. It is a small city on the eastern side of the Vermion Mountains north of Mount Olympus. The town was mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, where the apostles Paul, Silas and Timothy preached the Christian gospel.
Paul, Silas and Timothy travelled to Berea by night after fleeing from Thessalonica, as recorded in Acts 17:10. They 'immediately' went to the synagogue of the Jews to preach, and the Bereans were very accepting: the writer of the Acts of the Apostles noted the difference between the Thessalonians' response to the gospel and the Bereans' response: the Bereans were 'open-minded' or 'fair-minded' and willing to 'examine the scriptures to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth'. Many of the Bereans believed, both men and women, but when the Jewish Thessalonian non-believers heard about this, they came to Berea, stirring up crowds, starting riots, and ensuring that Paul, Silas and Timothy could not preach. Then the believers sent Paul to the coast, while Timothy and Silas stayed behind. Paul was taken to Athens, and word was given to Timothy and Silas to join him as soon as possible. (Acts 17:10–15)
Berea was located in southwestern Macedonia, which was a province of the Roman empire in its time. No one has verified the date of the establishment of the city, although it has been known to have been surrendered to the Romans from the Persians after the Battle of Pydna in 168 B.C. There is a city of the same name that is mentioned in a section of Thucydides, which dates it to be around the year 432 B.C. In Polybius there were two insertions about an inscription that dates the city back to the later part of the 4th century BC The city's foundation stood where modern day Verria or Kar-Verria in Greece is today. It was located in a unique position. There was a variety of terrain that surrounded the city back then and even today.
Being positioned at the base of Mount Bermius, which is part of the Olympian Mountain range, an ample supply of water provided for the city and the region. A big source of water was the Eliakomon River and Axius river which provided the plains with a bountiful supply of water to nurture the apple, peach and pear orchards. However, even now the area is known to be quite wealthy with the fueling of the area's industrial section due to the presence of an electrical dam on the Eliakomon River.
The city was also the first city of the Macedonian region to fall to the Roman Empire, following the Battle of Pydna in 168 B.C. During the time of Paul the Apostle, there were two major roads joining the towns of Thessalonica and Berea, one of them passing close to the ancient city of Pella. There are some assumptions that the Apostle Paul used this route when visiting Berea.
Berea was one of two capitals when Diocletian ruled the Roman empire from 284 through 305 A.D. Ancient custom says that Saint Onesimus was the first bishop of Berea. The bishops in Berea were under the authority of the head of the ecclesiastic province in Thessalonica, but was later assigned its own ecclesiastic province by Andronicus II (1283-1328).
Berea has had a long history from Ancient times till the modern day.
New Testament References
Paul and Silas ministered to the Jewish community of Berea around 54 and 55 A.D. The two men had been driven out of the city of Thessalonica by an angry mob for spreading the gospel there. Paul and Silas made their journey from Thessalonica to Berea by night (Acts17:10). It is also said that Timothy, a student of the apostle Paul, joined him during the journey to Berea. The people of Berea were more accepting than the people of Thessalonica of the message from the Apostle and his companions. The community was said to consider carefully what they learned from Paul before truly believing it (Acts 17:11-12).
After Paul, Silas, and the other members of their group had spent several days in Berea, some Jews from Thessalonica got word that Paul and Silas were preaching in Berea and stirred up trouble; Paul was again forced to leave. Some members of the congregation helped Paul to get to Athens, but Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea, then later caught up with Paul in the city of Corinth (Acts 18:5). Later, a certain Sopater of Berea joined Paul on his journey (Acts 20:4). It is said that Sopater was ordered by a delegation from Berea to go to Judea with funds that would help the needy of that region.
A Bishopric at Berea goes back to the New Testament. The former diocese of the ancient city of Beroea (now Veria) was in the Roman province of Macedonia in today's northern Greece. Today it belonged to the ecclesiastical province of Thessaloniki. The Catholic see of Berrhoea is today a vacant titular of the that church centered on northern Greece.
Onesimus, formerly Philemon's slave, was its first bishop according to the Apostolic Constitutions (VII, 46). Gerontius took part in the Council of Sardica (c. 344), Lucas in the Robber Council of Ephesus (449), Sebastian in the Council of Chalcedon (451), Timothy in the synod convoked by Patriarch Menas of Constantinople in 536, and Joseph in the Council of Constantinople (869) that condemned Photius. The Byzantine emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos promoted the local see to an archbishopric after 1261, and it advanced further to the rank of a metropolitan see by 1300. Berrhoea is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see. At the time of the last partition of the empire, it was allotted to Macedonia Prima and its see made suffragan to Thessalonica.
Under Andronicus II (1283-1328) Beroea was made a metropolis.
The Greek metropolitans added the title of Naoussa, a neighbouring city. It has now about 10,000 inhabitants.
Amongst its bishops were,
- The Biblical Onesimus,
- Gerontius was present at Sardica in 344,
- Luke at the Latrocinium of Ephesus in 449,
- Timothy at the Council of Constantinople under the Patriarch Menas in 536,
- Joseph at the Eighth Oecumenical Council in 869.
- un-named Catholic bishop in 1235
Catholic Titular bishops of Berrhoea
- Alfredo Ottaviani ( April 5, 1962 April 19, 1962 )
- Pierre-Auguste-Marie-Joseph Douillard May 22, 1963 August 20, 1963
- Friedrich Kaiser Depel (October 29, 1963 September 26, 1993)
- New Living Translation https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts17:10-12&version=NLT accessed 26 September 2015
- New American Bible translation https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts17:10-12&version=NABRE accessed 26 September 2015
- Acts 17:11
- "Berea". Meander Travel.
- Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 69-74
- Raymond Janin, v. 1. Berrhée in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. VIII, 1935, coll. 885-887
- Gregory, Timothy E.; Ševčenko, Nancy Patterson (1991). "Berroia in Macedonia". In Kazhdan, Alexander. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York City: Oxford University Press. pp. 283–284. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
- Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 838
- Berrhoea .
- Hierocles, Synecdemos, 638
- Beroea at newadvetn.org.
- Kenneth Meyer Setton, The Papacy and the Levant, 1204-1571 (American Philosophical Society, 1976) p30.
- entry in catholic-hierarchy.org (English)
- Berea at Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Smith's Dictionary of the Bible. H. B. Hackett, D.D. 1981. p. 280.
- The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible. Abingdon Press. 1962. pp. 385–6.
- Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica. 1929. p. 430.
- Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature. Baker Book House Company. 1981. p. 785.
- The Victor Journey Through the Bible. V. Gilbert Beers. 1981. p. 371.
- Zaring, Elbert Robb, ed. (June 21, 1916). "A Badge of True Nobility". Northwestern Christian Advocate. 64 (26): 606.