|Our visit to the ancient biblical city of Ephesus|
I'll be blogging more stories about our adventures (and posting some incredible pictures) later but I just had to share with you one of the most spiritually moving parts of our trip.
Our trip to Ephesus.
|Our view toward the coast en route by bus to Ephesus|
At some point (I'm not sure of the year), landslides from severe earthquakes buried the entire sprawling metropolis under tons of rock, dirt, and debris from the surrounding mountains. Archaeologists have only recently begun digging it out, and gigantic chunks of regal pillars, beautiful statues, ornate temples, stone trade centers, an enormous amphitheater, and private homes litter the ground like enormous jigsaw puzzles waiting to be pieced together.
|Carved symbol on certain house entrances|
I questioned our tour guide about the meaning of the crude emblem that seemed to be turning up in strange places all over the city, but she smiled mysteriously and said, "Just wait. You'll see."
After we walked and walked around the dry, dusty streets and visited ancient toilets and bakeries and massive pagan temples, I asked her again about the circular symbol we kept running across tucked here and there, usually discreetly, in various odd locations around the city.
|Road leading to Amphitheater at Ephesus|
Our guide, in heavily accented English, began telling us of the persecution and ridicule endured by the first Christians of Ephesus in AD 60-70, after Paul's visit on his 2nd missionary journey (Acts 18:18-19). The leaders and artisans associated with the great temple of Artemus located there were not at all happy with the enthusiastic newfound Christians poisoning their bustling idol business, which also deepened the schism between traditional Jews and Gentile converts to Christianity.
|Temple of Artemus|
Our guide first drew the fish (ichthus) symbol, filling in the center with the Greek letters I, X, O, Y, E (sorry - that's as close as I can come to the Greek alphabet with this keyboard), which roughly translated, means Jesus Christ God's Son Savior. Then she pointed to each letter separately, beginning with the I, and drew it with her stick in the sand, superimposing them one on top of the other. When she was finished, to my amazement, there was the exact wagon wheel symbol we had been seeing. It, too, was a secretive symbol of Christianity that was used to identify Jesus-followers without blowing their cover.
|These Greek letters (center) superimposed upon each other create the top symbol|
Tradition has it that John brought Mary, the mother of Jesus, back to Ephesus with him to take care of her until her death. We were able to visit the small house, now tended by nuns, set back in the wooded hills where she was supposed to have lived (below left). I'll try to squeeze another picture or two of Ephesus in here before this post overflows.
|Mary's small stone cottage in the hills outside Ephesus|
|Deb on the original stone road at the Ephesus gate|