The Riot in Ephesus Two Thousand Years Ago and The Riot in the World Today

In the Scriptures, the messages in the story of Chapter 19 of the Acts of the Apostles, which I reproduce below, have formed my worldview in terms of men’s political/economic motivations and the whole bedrock of what we have come to call our civilization. Just go through the passage and thereafter check out what I have to say about some of the salient points.

Acts 19

New International Version (NIV)

Paul in Ephesus

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when[a] you believed?”

The Riot in Ephesus

23 About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way. 24 A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there.

Artemis of Ephesus (aka Diana of Ephesus) , 1st century CE Roman copy (Museum of Efes, Turkey). With breasts aplenty, it’s easy to tell that she was an ancient goddess of fertility.

25 He called them together, along with the workers in related trades, and said: “You know, my friends, that we receive a good income from this business. 26 And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. 27 There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited; and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.”

The Ruins of the Temple of Artemis

28 When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 29 Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and all of them rushed into the theater together. 30 Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him.31 Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater.

32 The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. 33 The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. 34 But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”

This model of the Temple of Artemis, atMiniatürk Park, Istanbul, Turkey, attempts to recreate the probable appearance of the first temple.

35 The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: “Fellow Ephesians, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? 36 Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. 37 You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. 38 If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. 39 If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. 40 As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of what happened today. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.” 41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Section  Comment
23 The desgination “”Christianity” came later. Before then the new religion was known as “the Way”.
24 Temple of Artemis at Ephesus is Iconic. It adds flair to my attachment to this story. Check…..
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
The historian Herodotus (484 – ca. 425 BCE), and the scholar Callimachus of Cyrene (ca. 305 – 240 BCE) at the Museum of Alexandria, made early lists of seven wonders. Their writings have not survived, except as references.
The classic seven wonders were:
1      Great Pyramid of Giza
2      Hanging Gardens of Babylon
3      Statue of Zeus at Olympia
4      Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
5      Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
6      Colossus of Rhodes
7      Lighthouse of Alexandria
The earliest lists had the Ishtar Gate as the seventh wonder of the world instead of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.The list known today was compiled in the Middle Ages—by which time many of the sites were no longer in existence. Today, the only ancient world wonder that still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza.
25 – 27 Here Demetrius sees a threat to not just his business but the entire industry and, therefore, his livelihood and life. In my view, his reaction has become the default template of corporations today: viz. Organise the industry; lobby the city officials, the politicians and citizens. Is it farfetched therefore to say that, today, this is the modus operandi of the global warming denialists. They see the immediate threats to their profits as more ominous than the long-term, all embracing, perils facing the planet.

 

Let me leave you to extrapolate your own observations. Do leave your comments below. Have fun!

Caleb

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