Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Blog


June 23, 2013

Shirley Miller, scribe

We began our time together with worship at 9:00 a.m. and from Ephesians were challenged to “sing and give thanks,” and so we sang, “If you believe and I believe,” “Lord Jesus Christ, be present now,” “Longing for light,” and “God of the Bible.”

Personal verses from Ephesians and sharing came from Lola Gingerich, Abe Buhler, and Mary Schiedel. Loren shared an introduction to Ephesus. We learned that Paul lived in Ephesus about three years—longer than anywhere else on his journeys. The apostle John and John the elder also lived there. Paul had an emotional meeting with the elders of Ephesus on his last missionary journey. He knew that imprisonment and persecution were surely awaiting him. He instructed them to be alert and watchful, recounting the example he had set, commending them to God.

Ancient Ephesus had about 250,000 inhabitants and served as the capital of the Roman province of Asia. In those days the “ocean” was much closer and could easily be seen from the great theater.

En route we learned that the area is rich in agriculture, industry, and tourism. There are many olive trees that provide olives, olive oil, and olive wood products. The healthy hazel nut oil is coming into vogue. We saw peach and tangerine trees. The fig tree produces the most expensive elite fruit. In industry they manufacture base garments on which top-tier designer companies around the world put their brand names!

Turkish carpets and the art of weaving are dying out, but not without an organized governmental effort/program to keep it alive. Our group was treated to a visit to such a program, where we saw the process from silkworm production to final carpets. We were also treated to a fashion show where models modeled many colors and styles of leather coats made of lambskin. Our own Loren Johns and Marla Longenecker were pulled from the audience to serve as models.

Also interesting were the large stork nests atop columns and street lights as these large birds often took to flight.

Our walk through the ruins of Ephesus followed the marble road known as Curetes Street. All the monumental buildings had their front sides opened to this street. Houses, shops, and statues also lined Curetes. Loren shared that it seems a certainty that Paul and John would have walked along this road. Among the highlights of ruins that we saw along this path were:

  • The Odeon, a small theater for political meetings and concerts. With 1,500 seats, it still had 500 more seats than Sauder Hall at Goshen College!
  • The Temple of Domitian, a temple built in Ephesus in honor of the Flavian family of Roman emperors (Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian)
  • The Hercules Gate, which had a relief of the flying Nikē.
  • The Fountain of Trajan
  • The Temple of Hadrian, the Roman emperor who came to visit from Athens in 128 AD
  • Latrina, public toilets with an entrance fee for gentlemen only—a “social” spot. Along the long marble benches around the room we 50 rather obvious openings and no privacy panels.
  • The Terrace Houses, which we saw from a distance. These “houses of the rich” are currently being excavated and are a model of how to display a complex archaeological site with well-preserved artifacts.
  • The “Great Theater” which could seat 24,000 people. When we got to the theater, Loren read the passage from Acts 19 about a near-riot that occurred there when the Ephesian artisans became upset that the preaching of Apostle Paul was beginning to hurt their livelihood in producing tourist souvenirs of the goddess Artemis (Diana).
  • The Library of Celsus with its two-story façade reconstructed by French archaeologists. Four female statues grace the front wall: Sophia (wisdom), Arētē (character), Ennoia (judgment), and Epistēmē (skill).
  • In the second century, it was third-largest library, with 12,000 books and scrolls.

Our guide also pointed out the Roman baths, the symbol carved into the road that represented the superimposed letters--the first letters of the Greek words, Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Savior. Together these letters spell the word ichthys, or fish, the stock market, or “bull” market, and where the “eternal flame” was and how it was used.

We left this area by the Arcadian Way, where there was a reenactment of a gladiator fight and the Olympic theme song was played.

We again boarded the tour bus and drove up a treacherous and narrow mountain road to a small cottage that “is said” to be the last home of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The house was built in 1951. Reportedly John brought her here and cared for her for the last 11 years of her life.

We also stopped at St. John’s Basilica, which contains the grave of St. John.

From this high point we could look down on the one remaining column from the 127 at the Temple of Artemis, which was four times the size of the Parthenon and one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

We ended our day of touring with a carpet demonstration and a snack lunch, which was served just a tad late for some Turks at 5:00 p.m.! For some of us, it had been a long time since breakfast! Then we returned to our ship.

Quotes of the day:

  • At several stands in Ephesus, vendors proudly advertised “Genuine Fake Watches.”
  • While visiting the public latrines in Ephesus, Wilma Miller noted, “Paul sat here!”
  • As we prepared to reboard our luxury cruise ship, Celebrity Reflection, Mary Schiedel said, “Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home!”



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Welcome to this window on the 2013 Mediterranean Cruisetour. As Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS president, and Loren Johns, AMBS professor of New Testament, and 43 other travelers explore the places where the Apostle Paul traveled, they will share photos and reports here. Come back to this space for what we hope will be daily snapshots in words and photos of what the group is experiencing.

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Visit Menno Travel to learn more about the Cruisetour.