- Main Street
- Engagement with the Text
- Other posts in this series:
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 0 Anticipation
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 1-2 Brisbane – Sydney – Abu Dhabi – Athens
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 3 Corinth and Athens
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 4 The Oracle of Delphi
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 5 Athens – Istanbul – Cappadocia
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 6 Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 7 Mevlana Museum, Pisidian Antioch
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 8 Hierapolis, Pamukkale Pools, Colossae, Laodicea
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 9 Philadelphia, Sardis, Kusadasi
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 10 Ephesus
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 11 Patmos
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 12 Smyrna, Thyateria, Pergamon
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 13 Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 14 Gallipoli
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 15 (and 16) Istanbul
- Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: In Review
The whole site is like a visual feast. It reminded me of those expert gardens, where there’s a new story around every turn, and through every narrow gap there’s a whole new open area with it’s own exciting new part of the story.
Pictured here is our tour guide, Bariş, with one of the countless stray cats of the site.
First, we came into the Odeon. It’s a small version of the truly enormous theatre around the other side of the site. This was effectively parliament house, as well as a concert hall for the rich and famous.
The grassed area across from the Odeon is the Agora, but again it was no common marketplace. This was where the important, the powerful, and the rich were hobnobbing…
Bariş knew what he was doing. He took us down a marble street, which was lined with the ruins of buildings. In itself it was interesting, but he hadn’t told us what we would find as we turned the next corner.
So down we went, looking at the various shops, and alcoves for fountains, and so forth.
She is the goddess of victory. In fact, she is actually pronounced “Nicki”.
It’s a spectacular marble road, leading down to the Library of Celsus. On the right on the way down, is the Temple of Hadrian.
When we were there, this is what Hadrian’s Temple looked like.
This is what it normally looks like.
The Library is at the bottom of the hill, and very impressive. Here are some snaps:
From there, we turned the corner and headed for the main theatre, where the riot recorded in Acts 19 took place.
Stop Press (15th Feb 2014):
I just remembered a funny, but kind of disturbing incident that I witnessed in Ephesus at this point.
There was a frieze showing a gladiator’s helmet, a shield, a sword, and two shin-guards. Another group was gathered around it and their guide was commentating. This is what he said:
… and this is the armour of God from Ephesians 6, as you can see, the helmet, the shield, and so forth.
I almost choked.
Anyone who has actually read Ephesians 6 will, of course, remember that it includes not only a helmet, sword and shield, but also a belt, a breastplate, and sandals. It doesn’t make reference to shin guards.
I was reminded by this, that we were blessed to have a tour guide who actually knew what he was talking about.
Lunch Time at a Rug Seller
We dined at a rug emporium at Ephesus. It was amusing to be wined, dined, entertained, and finally plied for a sale of genuine Persian rugs. I declined. But this is where I first tasted Raki, the national favourite fire-water. It is a little like Ouzo, but more… brutish. I quite liked it, actually.
… and after lunch we went to St John’s Basilica.
This was a pretty impressive basilica. It is enormous!
St John is said to “sleep at Ephesus” (according to Eusebius). It’s hard to tell how much credence to give to the claim that he is buried precisely under the altar at the basilica, though. It seems to me that it is believable, and even likely, that St John may have been buried in the general area, but I find no particular reason to suspect that he would be buried right there, on the top of a big hill…
As far as ancient sites go, Ephesus is certainly a highlight. It is wonderful to have the memory of the actual place, to put the Biblical references into a concrete context.
Engagement with the Text
The text for the day was Ephesians 1-3. This passage is, in my view, all about Jews and Gentiles, and the implications of Jew/Gentile relations for Christians.
Whereas the events of Acts 19 occurred when Christianity first intersected with Ephesus, the letter to the Ephesians is somewhat later. In Acts, the conflict is between the Christians and those who profit from the Pagan cult. The letter to the Ephesians is about Jew and Gentile relations within the Christian faith, and the theology at the centre of that. This is, after all, the biggest single controversy of Paul’s ministry throughout his travels, and it earned him several beatings at the hands of enraged Jewish congregations.
The tour of the site provided me more food for thought with respect to Acts 19 than with the letter to the Ephesians, but it did also serve helpfully to create a distinction between those two Sitz im Leben contexts. By the time the Letter was written, the Christian community was obviously well established and ready to digest the finer points of pastoral theology. This is not the picture we get from Acts 19, which was very rough times indeed!
A key reflection on Acts 19 is the observation that the religion of Artemis, the economic realities of the silver idol trade, and the politics of Ephesus’ power and authority, are all closely linked in the minds of the interlocutors. Paul’s message threatens not just “religion”, but subverts the whole way of life of the Pagan world of that day. Paul had evidently communicated his message very clearly, because that is precisely what Christianity does, if properly understood.
Other posts in this series:
Expectations These are my thoughts as I pack for a Study Tour of Greece and Turkey with my Bible College: Intellectually My thinking process…
Brisbane - Sydney - Abu Dhabi - Athens Day 1 is mostly travel. In fact, it's hard to define what, precisely, is a "day" when you cross so many time…
Corinth and Athens We drove down the coast to Corinth in the morning, and returned to Athens after lunch to see the Parthenon and…
The Oracle of Delphi We headed out from Athens, and in a two hour trip we saw an amazing landscape change from cityscape, to countryside, to…
Athens - Istanbul - Cappadocia Just as we started to get used to Athens, we were off into the great unknown territory of Turkey. Unknown, that is,…
Kaymakli, Sultanhani Caravanserai, Konya For many in the group, the day began with a hot air balloon ride! They tell me it was amazing, and…
Mevlana Museum, Pisidian Antioch Beforehand, I would have expected Mevlana Museum to be irrelevant, and Pisidian Antioch to be somewhat interesting.…
Hierapolis, Pamukkale Pools, Colossae, Laodicea Oh my goodness, what a day! Hierapolis Hierapolis is mentioned in the Bible only…
Philadelphia, Sardis, Kusadasi Happy birthday to me! January 18th is my birthday, and someone on tour happened to ask, just a couple of…
Ephesus Just when you think you've got no more "wow", there's Ephesus... The whole site is like a visual feast. It reminded me of those…
Patmos We had an early start, so that we had time for the four hour boat ride to Patmos from Kusadasi... and four hours back again! We passed…
Smyrna (Izmir), Thyateria, Pergamon (Bergama) It's a big day when you visit three sites. On top of that, two out of these particular three were…
Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy Today we visited three sites, and all were impressive. It was another big day for all of us. He didn't let on, but I…
Gallipoli Without any hesitation I can state that this was the most moving and emotional day of the tour. Gallipoli is special. Here it…
Istanbul This is quite a town! It has twice the population of the largest city in Australia. The road rules seem to be taken as no more than a…