The Temple of Diana at Ephesus

original image from www.essential-architecture.com
original image from www.essential-architecture.com

The Temple of Artemis, also known as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to Artemis. The original structure was completed around 550 BC at Ephesus (in present-day Turkey), and was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It features prominently in Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts 19.

“The completed temple was 425 ft by 225 ft and had 127 columns each 60 ft in height and each representing a king. Thirty-six of the columns were decorated with high reliefs, and at least one was the work of Scopas, a renowned sculptor. (Cf. Pliny Nat. hist. xxxvi.21 [95–97].)” (source: Bromiley, G. W. (1988; 2002). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (1:307). Wm. B. Eerdmans.)

Here’s a little insight into what worship was like in this temple:

Originally the Artemis worshiped at Ephesus was not a Gr. divinity but was Asiatic. Ultimately the various goddesses of love in Syria and Asia Minor all owed their origin to the earlier Babylonian and Assyrian Ishtar through the link of the Phoenician Astarte. She impersonated the reproductive powers of man and animals and all other life. She assisted at childbirth. Associated thus with the various fertility cults she became the patroness of ceremonial prostitution, which was part of her worship at Ephesus.

The great temple of Diana at Ephesus, called the Artemision and considered as one of the seven wonders of the Hellenistic world, was the scene of an annual festival in her honor during the month of Artemisios (March–April). The religious ceremonies included athletic, dramatic and musical contests (see Games). Ephesus was proud of her position as “temple-keeper” of Diana (Acts 19:35), a boast which has been found on inscriptions excavated there. The temple treasury acted as a bank in which deposits were made by cities, kings and private persons. Here the Ionians came with their wives and children, bringing costly offerings and presents to the priests. Her worship was characterized by sensuous orgies. Great throngs attended. Multitudes of female temple slaves or “priestesses” who came as virgins were here dedicated to service in the temple which may have included ritual or cultic prostitution.

The silversmiths of Ephesus carried on a lucrative business by the forging and sale of images of this goddess (Acts 19:23 ff.). Hence it was inevitable that Paul’s message of Christianity should arouse their indignation because it jeopardized their trade.

(source: Pfeiffer, C. F., Vos, H. F., & Rea, J. (1975; 2005). The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia. Moody Press.)

Despite all of the idolatry and wickedness in Ephesus, God’s word prevailed!

Posted in: Bible Study, New Testament, Topical

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