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Videos—3MJ: Ephesus Region

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The distance between historical cities surrounding Ephesus (as well as the Seven Churches of Revelation) is not as much as appears on a map. Smyrna (Izmir) on the coast over to Laodicea (Denizli) in the interior is only about 115 miles, almost like driving from New Orleans to Hattiesburg, MS. Other cities in the region, often ignored by tour groups related to the book of Revelation, have important archeological information to help establish the background of both the Pauline missionary enterprise and the Seven Churches of Revelation. These cities include Metropolis, only a few miles north of Ephesus, Hierapolis and Colossae as part of a trip-city complex with Laodicea, and the classical city of Aphrodisias, fabulously illustrative of Roman imperial rule in the provinces of the empire.
  • Ephesus—Region: Metropolis
    • Metropolis: Imperial Inscriptions
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      Excavations in the early 1990s at Metropolis, an ancient city only 21 miles north of Ephesus, found three early Roman period inscriptions on two altars dedicated to Augustus and one to Germanicus. A fascinating possible connection of the term hilastērion crucial to the meaning of Rom 3:25 and these Roman inscriptions might suggest new ways to understand Paul’s meaning. Since Luke says that Paul impacted the whole province of Asia and the word of the Lord spread widely from Ephesus (Acts 19:10, 20), one can speculate the city of Metropolis was affected by Paul’s preaching and that Paul would know about this city and its inscriptions. Romans is written soon after Paul was in Ephesus.
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    • Metropolis: Peristyle Homes
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      The Roman peristyle home was a home with an open courtyard surrounded by colonnaded porches on all four sides. The area often was planted with a garden or greenery. These broad areas made natural meeting spaces for early Christian worship, if a church was fortunate enough to have an owner of such a home as patron to the church. Lydia (Acts 16:15), Jason (Acts 17:5), Gaius (Rom 16:23), and Phoebe (Rom 16:1), along with others, were probably such patrons. The peristyle home in Metropolis illustrates the underground, terracotta pipe system that supplied the house with running water.
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    • Ephesus—Region: Colossae
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      Luke presents Ephesus as the crown jewel of the Pauline missionary enterprise. One of the clear evidences of this great success is the establishment of satellite churches in the surrounding area. Epaphras was one of Paul’s associates working in the Lycus valley area who founded the church at Colossae and likely those also in Laodicea and Hierapolis (Col. 1:6; 4:13).
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  • Ephesus—Region: Hierapolis
    • Hierapolis: Mineral Cliffs
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      The hot mineral springs flowing down the Hierapolis hillside create a series of carbonate mineral terraces as the water evaporates. King Eumenes II of Pergamon founded the city in 190 BC to be a thermal spa. The name may derive from Hiero, wife of the founder of Pergamene dynasty in ancient legend. Visitors have bathed in the hot springs for thousands of years. Romans used the site not only as a leisure spot but for medicinal purposes as well.
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    • Hierapolis: Theater and Christianity
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      The theater at Hierapolis holding about 15,000 people had to be rebuilt after the devastating AD 60 earthquake that leveled most towns in the Lycus valley. Theater remains today reveal some of the best preserved decorative and architectural elements of any theater in Turkey that date to remodeling by Hadrian (117–138) and later by Septimius Severus (193–211). The scaenae frons (stage) elaborately displays three major friezes. The first is dedicatory to Emperor Septimius Severus and his family, who are pictured in procession with the gods. The second portrays the life of Dionysius from birth through his Asian journeys as he rides a leopard-pulled carriage accompanied by satyrs, sileni, bacchantes, and the gods Pan and Priapus. The third portrays another procession with sacrifice to the goddess Artemis, including Niobe and her children being punished by Artemis and Apollo. Christian connections to Hierapolis include possible founding by Paul's associate, Epaphras, as well as being the home of the famous early church father, Papias (c. 70–163), who in church tradition had connections to the apostle John.
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  • Ephesus—Region: Aphrodisias
    • Aphrodisias: Stadium
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      Aphrodisias near Laodicea was about 93 miles from Ephesus on the coast. During the imperial age, Romans adopted and adapted Greek civic traditions. One of the fundamental institutions of a Greek city was its stadium, designed specifically for athletic competitions. The stadium at Aphrodisias is one of the best preserved in the entire Mediterranean world. With a track measuring 738 feet by 98 feet and 30 rows of seating completely in the round holding 30,000 spectators, this edifice eclipses in size the large stadiums at Perge (also well preserved) and Laodicea (poorly preserved). As with other stadiums and theaters in the empire, Romans sometimes converted these structures to accommodate their gladiatorial contests, as they did here at Aphrodisias and with the theater at Ephesus.
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    • Aphrodisias: Bouleterion
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      The bouleterion was the council house, sometimes doing double duty as a small theater for intimate performances. The Aphrodisias bouleterion was vaulted and lighted by tall arched windows in the outer wall. Dedicatory statues indicate Claudia Antonia Tatiana and her uncle were benefactors of the extensive, second-century remodeling. The striking resemblance of the Aphrodisias structure to the bouleterion in Ephesus, also dated by inscriptions to second century, may imply the same benefactress, since Tatiana is known to have had close ties to Ephesus. An inscription indicating “place of the Hebrews” in the seating at Aphrodisias ties in with an inscription pillar recording the names of donors to the refurbishing of the Jewish synagogue at Aphrodisias; nine of these names are associated with the bouleterion.
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    • Aphrodisias: Synagogue Inscription
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      The archeological museum at Aphrodisias holds a 3rd–5th cent. AD inscription on a nine-foot tall column recording over 100 names that stood at the entrance to a Jewish synagogue. The inscription honoring these named individuals uses the term “God-fearers” to notate part of the list. This Aphrodisias inscription, like the one in the theater seat at Miletus, illustrates Luke’s usage of the term “God-fearer.”
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    • Aphrodisias: Sebastion
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      The Sebastion is an edifice dedicated to displaying Roman imperial ideology and facilitating the worship of the imperial family as divine by conflating Greek mythology with Roman legends and founding stories in the architecture, reliefs, and friezes to exploit divinity status. Aphrodisias enjoyed the good fortune of connection to the goddess Aphrodite as the city’s claimed “ancestral mother” at the same time as the family of Julius Caesar, Octavian Augustus, and successors claimed divine decent from Aphrodite (Venus) through the legend of the Trojan hero Aeneas, son of Aphrodite, escaping the destruction of Troy to found the new genus of the imperial family in Italy. Thus, Rome always was partial to Aphrodisias as a city of Asia and bestowed generous benefactions on the city throughout its Roman history. In return, Aphrodisias, with its Roman aristocratic citizenry, was one of the strongest supporters of imperial rule, imperial ideology, and the imperial family. The Sebastion at Aphrodisias is a premier example of this ideology and its local support.
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    • Aphrodisias: Sebastion Relief
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      Claudius was son of Drusus and Antonia Minor and afflicted with a limp and mild deafness. Claudius came to power as the last of his family line through the Praetorian Guard after the assassination of his nephew, Caligula. His capable rule surprised many. He proved politically prudent, administratively efficient, and ambitious to expand and build. His most famous military achievement was the conquest of Britain. He ruled as Roman emperor from 41–54, a period witnessing the early expansion of the church beyond Jerusalem and the first two of the three missionary journeys of Paul. A relief of Claudius from the Sebastion of Aphrodisias illustrates the salient features of Roman imperial ideology used to propagandize subject peoples in the provinces of Rome, particularly in Asia.
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