Biblical Riot at Ephesus: The Archaeological Context

Biblical Archaeology Society | 7/14/2016 | Staff
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This Roman theater played an important role in the riot at Ephesus against Paul and the early Christians, according to Luke’s account in Acts 19. Photo: Jordan Pickett.

In Acts 19, Luke describes a frenzied riot at Ephesus, a city in the Roman province of Asia in modern-day Turkey:

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About that time no little disturbance broke out concerning the Way. A man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the artisans. These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, “Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be scorned, and she will be deprived of her majesty that brought all Asia and the world to worship her.”

The so-called Beautiful Artemis statue was one of four statues of Artemis excavated at Ephesus in 1956. Measuring 5.7 feet tall, the statue dates to the Hadrianic–early Antonine periods (c. 117–150 C.E.). On either side of Artemis are female deer, and the zodiac signs appear on her upper chest. Rows of oval pendants—possibly representing bulls’ scrota—hang from her chest. These attributes, according to BAR author James R. Edwards, may represent “Artemis’s ultimate trophies in taming and subjugating the quintessential symbols of virility.” According to the silversmith Demetrius in Acts 19, the mission of Paul at Ephesus threatened the reputation of Artemis’s cult. Photo: Jordan Pickett.

Acts - Riot - End

According to Acts, the riot would have occurred at the end...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Biblical Archaeology Society
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