views updated May 18 2018


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.)]


views updated May 17 2018

Ephesus (Efes) Ancient Ionian city of w Asia Minor (modern Turkey). A prosperous port under the Greeks and Romans, it was a centre of the cult of Artemis (Diana). The Temple of Artemis was the largest Greek temple ever built and was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Ephesus was captured by Croesus (c.550 bc), Cyrus the Great (c.546 bc) and by Alexander the Great (334 bc), falling eventually into Roman control (133 bc). Today, it is one of the world's principal archaeological sites.



views updated Jun 11 2018

Ephesus. City in Asia Minor (near the W. coast of modern Turkey and now a ruin), and venue of the third ecumenical council in 431.

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).


views updated May 21 2018

Ephesus an ancient Greek city on the west coat of Asia Minor, in present-day Turkey, site of the temple of Diana (see Diana), one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was an important centre of early Christianity; St Paul preached there and St John is traditionally said to have lived there.
Epistle to the Ephesians a book of the New Testament ascribed to St Paul consisting of an epistle to the Church at Ephesus.