EPHESUS , Greek city on the W. coast of Asia Minor, at the mouth of the River Cayster. Ephesus had an important Jewish community in the first century and its beginning apparently goes back to the early Hellenistic era. Information about it is found chiefly in Josephus, but also in Philo, in inscriptions, and Acts. What is perhaps the earliest information about the Jews of Ephesus appears in Josephus (Apion, 2:39) referring to *Antiochus ii. Josephus also mentions a decree of the consul Lentulus in 49 b.c.e. concerning the Jews. Ephesus played an exceptionally important role in the history of early Christianity, and its main importance in Jewish history is in the opposition of the Jewish community to Paul's missionary activity there. Paul laid the foundation of the first Christian community in Ephesus against the vehement opposition of the local Jews and the non-Jews who were worshipers of Artemis (Acts 19, and the Epistle to the Ephesians). Paul disputed his critics in the hall of Tyrannus within the city (Acts 19:9), but the whereabouts of this location have not been discovered during excavations at the site. With the rise of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, Ephesus became one of the most important centers of the new religion. The third Ecumenical Council was held there in 431 c.e. With the political change during the sixth and seventh centuries in Asia Minor, Ephesus ceased to exist. Close to the ruins of Ephesus is the modern town of Selçuk.
Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 15f.; Juster, Juifs, 1 (1914), 190; E. Stein, Histoire du Bas-Empire (1949), 309f.; J. Klausner, Mi-Yeshu ad Paulus, 2 (19512), 87, 91–97. add. bibliography: C. Foss, Ephesus After Antiquity (1978); R.E. Oster, A Bibliography of Ancient Ephesus (1987); A. Bammer, Ephesos: Stadt an Fluss und Meer (1988); E.C. Blake and A.C. Edmonds, Biblical Sites in Turkey (1998).
[Abraham Schalit /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]
A second synod was held in Ephesus in 449 to deal with Eutyches. Presided over by the bishop of Alexandria, it exonerated him; deposed instead the bishop of Antioch; and refused to receive the Tome sent by Pope Leo I. Its decisions were reversed by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The second synod is often known as the Latrocinium (Robber Synod).
Epistle to the Ephesians a book of the New Testament ascribed to St Paul consisting of an epistle to the Church at Ephesus.