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  #1  
Old 16th October 2010, 09:54 PM
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Ephesus and goddess worship

I'm posting this at STR and TAW, and hoping someone might have heard it before.

I found out today that there is a school of thought among some that the first council of Epheses elevated the role of Mary in order to quash the worship on pagan goddesses. The argument goes that this was a way of shoring up patriarchy, and it seems to come from modern neo-pagan sources.

Now, I understand the main events of the council. What I am wondering is if there are some historical facts that could account for this rather odd interpretation - like, was there a serious problem with worship of pagan goddesses at that time?

Or is it a totally wack-job conspiracy theory?
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  #2  
Old 17th October 2010, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by MKJ
I'm posting this at STR and TAW, and hoping someone might have heard it before.

I found out today that there is a school of thought among some that the first council of Epheses elevated the role of Mary in order to quash the worship on pagan goddesses. The argument goes that this was a way of shoring up patriarchy, and it seems to come from modern neo-pagan sources.

Now, I understand the main events of the council. What I am wondering is if there are some historical facts that could account for this rather odd interpretation - like, was there a serious problem with worship of pagan goddesses at that time?

Or is it a totally wack-job conspiracy theory?
The reason why the Council talked about Mary was because it was held to judge the orthodoxy of Nestorius who refused to call Mary the "Theotokos" and instead called her the "Chrisotokos" due to an over-zealos distinction between Christ and God. This is attested in all the documents pertaining the Council.
As for the idea that the Council "elevated" Mary that also is false. Yes, the Council officially anathemised those who refused to recognise her as "Theotokos" (the Nestorians) however all evidence shows that christians have been using the title since the 3rd Centuary (which is why Nestorianism was condemned). Also note that although the Nestorians refuse to call her "Theotokos" they still ask for her intercession and hold her in high esteem. The Assyrian Church also rejects the title however a mere glance at their liturgy and prayers shows that they venerate Mary just as we EO do.
Also the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus had already been destroyed by St John Chrysostom before the Council took place.

In short there is no historical evidnce for the "pagan godess" argument but lots of evidence otherwise.
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Old 17th October 2010, 02:05 PM
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Did the neo-pagans cite their sources? If so, check them. As often occurs with neo-pagans and their sources, the sources have nothing to do with the conclusions they make. I know my Anthropology professors used to roll their eyes whenever someone brought a neo-pagan book from a women's studies class and asked about the sources cited within. They're very fond of historical revisionism and fabrication to fit their already held beliefs.
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Old 17th October 2010, 04:45 PM
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As others have said there no longer was a cult to the deity of Diana (Artemus) in Ephesus at 431 a.d. This propaganda tends to derive from neo-pagain sources.

In fact, the myth that a christian mob led by St John Chrysostom destroyed the temple itself originates from neo-pagan groups which have inserted this false accusation into wikipedia! Other sources have since picked it up. The temple was destroyed by the goths for the last time in 268 a.d.

To give you an example heres an excerpt from the website unmuseum.org claiming christians led by Chrysostom burned down the pagan temple and see how absurd the accusation is:

By the time the great Temple of Artemis was destroyed during a raid by the Goths in 268 A.D., both the city and the religion of Artemis were in decline. The temple was rebuilt again, but in 391 it was closed by the Roman Emperor Theodosius the Great after he made Christianity the state religion. The temple itself was destroyed by a Christian mob in 401 and the stoned was recycled into other buildings. When the Roman Emperor Constantine rebuilt much of Ephesus a century later, he declined to restore the temple. He too had become a Christian and had little interest in pagan religions.

Constantine lived in 500 a.d.????? Most likely the above excerpt was borrowed from wikipedia which 'seems' make a similar point, only because a pagan source added a false interpolation which makes the excerpt confusing:

The city and temple were destroyed by the Goths in 263 AD. This marked the decline of the city's splendor....
Ephesus remained the most important city of the Byzantine Empire in Asia after Constantinople in the 5th and 6th centuries. The emperor Constantine I rebuilt much of the city and erected a new public bath. In 406 John Chrysostom, archbishop of Constantinople, ordered the destruction of the Temple of Artemis.[21] Emperor Flavius Arcadius raised the level of the street between the theatre and the harbour. The basilica of St. John was built during the reign of emperor Justinian in the sixth century.The town was again partially destroyed by an earthquake in 614.


The underlined sentence is an interpolation to the original wiki entry and completely out of place. Footnote 21 tells us that the sentence was provided by an organization known as the "Supreme Council of Ethnic Hellenes" This group is a pagan outlet known for their fabrications of christian/ pagan relations. Ironically one would assume now in the wiki entry that Constantine was the one who rebuilt the temple since he rebuilt the city. Omit the interpolated sentence and you realize wiki is giving the major constructions each emperor added to the city and a new temple to Artemus was not one of them.

Last edited by buzuxi02; 17th October 2010 at 05:05 PM.
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  #5  
Old 17th October 2010, 05:13 PM
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seems to me like this kinda stuff is like when they try to use Isis as an inspiration for why we venerate Mary or Horus as an early origin for the Resurrection of Christ. pagans always do this kinda stuff, and they always have.
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Old 17th October 2010, 07:43 PM
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I have never really understood the desire of some neo-pagans to promote this kind of stuff. One sees the same thing in other areas of revisionist history too, of course, and even Chrsitians engage in it so I guess it is a part of human nature that I find a bit opaque. What is the point of bringing people to your POV on dishonest terms?
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Old 17th October 2010, 09:17 PM
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When people bring things like this up, I start talking about C.S. Lewis and the True Myth theory - that Christianity is a true myth and that ancient mythologies contain shreds of Truth that foreshadow the true myth. It tends to flummox people.
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Old 17th October 2010, 10:41 PM
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The way to kill neo-pagan arguments is to ask them to produce primary sources - which they can't, because there aren't any. All they can produce is books by modern neo-pagan professors who invent their histories from speculation and wishful thinking (although they wrap it up in really good scholarly language).

Paganism really did die in Christendom, and for nearly 1500 years there was nothing but dead silence on the topic, so as soon as you ask for primary sources, they will either fold immediately or show you ones that are irrelevant.

The arguments I have gotten in response from n-p's is that "I'm not fighting fair" because "the Christian Church destroyed all pagan records".
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Old 18th October 2010, 07:29 AM
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There is no question about the sources being good - they aren't. I was interested though in what elements might go into producing such a statement, and I think I can see where they might have cobbled this together.

When I was a teenager I was actually quite attracted to neopaganism, but it was this kind of thing, which was obvious to me even as a 15 year old, that turned me off.

I have actually just been reading Lewis on myth - I found a new used book store on the weekend and picked of a copy of God in the Dock for $5. It was very satisfying to my hunter-gatherer instincts.
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Old 18th October 2010, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by rusmeister View Post
The arguments I have gotten in response from n-p's is that "I'm not fighting fair" because "the Christian Church destroyed all pagan records".
But then on what basis have they formulated their theories? would be my response. Pointing out the lack of evidence would seem as far as one could go in such a situation, to my mind.
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