Ephesus was the major city of Asia Minor during the New Testament era. It was a major port – now silted up – located at the end of the Spice and Silk Road that ran west from Arabia and Asia to Ephesus on the Aegean Sea.
Paul visited the city on his second and third missionary journeys – staying there for about 3 years on his third journey. Ephesus is also one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation (1:11; 2:1–7). It is mentioned 18 times in the New Testament.
View of the large square Commercial Agora. It was here that shops lined the four sides of the 360×360 ft. space. It is very possible that here Demetrius and other silver smiths sold their wares to pilgrims who were to visit the Temple of Artemis—one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. It is even possible that Paul, and Pricilla and Aquilla, had a leather working shop in the area. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or download. BTW the “white” structure in the distance on the far left is the famous “Library of Celsus” (not in existence in Paul’s day).
During his three year stay Paul was evidently so successful in preaching the Gospel that the sale of silver statues of the goddess Artemis fell off significantly. This led Demetrius and other silversmiths to instigate a riot protesting the ministry of Paul and his companions. This lead to a gathering of the ecclesia in the great theater where a riot was in the making (Acts 19:23–28).
View looking north down at the Commercial Agora (lower left). The large theater where the riot took place is in the upper right of the image and the “marble street” leads from the bottom of the photo to it. the Library of Clesus is the columned structure in the lower left of the image. Click on Image to Enlarge.
View looking south from the top northern edge of the theater. Right and above center, the open area with trees is the commercial agora. Probably Paul worked here, as did the artisans who made the silver images of Artemis. So it is no wonder that when the riot of the silversmiths, led by Demetrius, began (in the Commercial Agora?) that the crowd moved into the near by theater.
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For additional high resolution images of Ephesus Click on the Following: General Images, Artifacts, Terrace Houses, Cave of Paul and Thecla, and Ships.
In the New Testament the book of Acts 13-28 describes the spread of Christianity primarily through the efforts of Paul and his companions. As they traveled throughout Asia Minor and Greece some Jews and many Gentiles adopted the new faith. Some of these Gentiles where already interested in the God of the Jews and involved in synagogue worship. This group is mentioned several times in the book of Acts (Acts 13:16, 26, 43; 17:4, 17).
Clear evidence for the presence of a Jewish population living at Miletus, which Paul stopped at on the return leg of his Third Journey (Acts 20:15ff), is evidenced by an inscription that is located on the fifth row of seats on the southeast side of the large theater at Miletus (see below).
Greek Theater Inscription
τόπoς Ειουδέων τῶν καὶ Θεοσεβίον”the place for the Jews and the God–worshipers” or
“the place of the Jews who are also God–worshipers”
Click on image to enlarge/download
τόπoς Ειουδέων τῶν καὶ Θεοσεβίον
This inscription seems to mark “reserved seating” for Jews and possibly related “God–worshipers.” There are other “reserved seat” markings in this, and other, theaters. As it stands the inscription reads “the place of the Jews who are also God–worshipers.”
But some have suggested that whom ever wrote the inscription may have inverted the “τῶν καὶ.” If this is the case, then the inscription could refer to two groups of people, Jews and Gentile God–worshipers (= “the place for the Jews and the God–worshipers”). Compare the same categories found in the book of Acts, although not quite the same terminology (Acts 13:16, 26, 43; 17:4, 17).
The Theater at Miletus
The “God-Fearer” inscription is located where the two people are sitting near the center of the image
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Posted in Archaeology, Artifacts, Inscriptions, New Testament, Paul, Places in Turkey
Tagged Balat, God Fearer, Greek Inscription, Jews, Miletus, Theater
About half way between Old Testament Jericho and the Second Temple Palaces of Jericho there is a site called Tell es–Samarat. This tell was partially excavated and the area surveyed by Ehud Netzer.
View looking south from the top of Tell es–Samarat at the “stadium” of Second Temple Jericho. Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download.
In the foreground is the top of the cavea of the small (3,000 seat) theater that faces south. The flat area beyond it from the house in the lower right to beyond the hot houses is were the “stadium” of Herodian Jericho was located. The stadium was bounded on the right (west) by the asphalt road and on the left by a line of green trees.
The first–century Jewish historian Josephus mentions several important events that happened here.
Aspendos is a very impressive Roman site famous for is very well-preserved theater.
Well Preserved Theater at Aspendos
It is situated 28 mi. east of Antalya, 19 mi. east of Perge (visited by Paul and Barnaba), and 9 mi. [14.5 km.] inland (north) of the Mediterranean Sea coast.
After passing into and out of Greek and Persian hands, it submitted to Alexander the Great ca. 333 B.C., but had to pay annual tribute of 5,732 lb. [2,600 kg.] of gold to him! Subsequently it was variously controlled by the Seleucids (Syria) and the Ptolemies (Egypt). During the first and second centuries A.D. significant building activities took place. At the site the theater, aqueduct, and stadium are among the well–preserved remains.
Aqueduct at Aspendos
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