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Ephesus and goddess worship

Discussion in 'The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox' started by MKJ, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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    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?
     
  2. Nick T

    Nick T Newbie

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    Originally Posted by MKJ [​IMG]
    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.
     
  3. seashale76

    seashale76 Orthodox Christian

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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.
     
    buzuxi02 likes this.
  4. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

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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: Oct 17, 2010
  5. ArmyMatt

    ArmyMatt Regular Member

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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.
     
  6. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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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?
     
  7. Lirenel

    Lirenel Orthodox Christian

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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.
     
  8. rusmeister

    rusmeister Contributor

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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".
     
  9. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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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.
     
  10. MKJ

    MKJ Contributor

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    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.
     
  11. MamaBug

    MamaBug Regular Member

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    Possibly the only basis is the fact that at one time Ephesus had a temple to Artemis.

    There are a huge number of 'myths' that have been floating around for at least 500 years that are all of the same meme - that Catholicism is just a disguised form of paganism (or alternatively that paganism somehow corrupted the 'true church' past recognition). They are so predominant that they have passed into conventional wisdom and undoubtedly neo-pagans are drawing on them (as well as anti-Catholics and anti-Christians).

    The biggest one is that St. Constantine made the Roman Empire Christian which flooded the Church with former pagans, forcing the Church to consecrate new Bishops and priests of formerly pagan background to handle the load. Of course, these Bishops and priests had no real attachment to Christianity and had converted for political reasons, thus they were able to bring their pagan practices into Christianity without anyone being the wiser. :confused:

    It is rare to find someone who knows the truth - that St. Constantine merely legalized Christianity and that this was done at a point in time where the empire was already 45-50% Christian and fully able to field bishops that were born and raised in the faith to handle whatever alledged 'load' came about due to conversion.

    The fairy tale is more fun to believe, after all.
     
  12. Hairy Tic

    Hairy Tic New Member

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    ##
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2010
  13. Blackknight

    Blackknight Servant of God

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    Ever see that "documentary" movie Zeitgeist? They spend a lot of time talking about how the Christian religion is really just ancient sun worship modified a bit. The problem is when you go back to the primary sources, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Tao De Ching, etc. they say nothing at all like what the movie is telling you.

    Horus was not born of a virgin and he certainly wasn't killed for our sins, Krishna was never crucified, etc.

    Sorry for the thread jack, this kind of stuff makes me rage.
     
  14. MamaBug

    MamaBug Regular Member

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    Propagandized Church History is one of my hot buttons too. The whole debate has been hijacked by people who presented lurid, misleading, and sometimes outright false stories that captured the populist imagination and thus passed into our conventional wisdom as fact. They are so ingrained now that even presenting the facts is unlikely to change someone's mind - you just get accused of being an apologist.
     
  15. Gxg (G²)

    Gxg (G²) Pilgrim/Monastic on the Road to God (Psalm 84:1-7) CF Ambassador

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    There were alot of good things within the Zeitgeist movie, though. One of them I thought was good was the one entitled Zeitgeist - The Movie: Federal Reserve (Part 1 of 5
     
  16. Blackknight

    Blackknight Servant of God

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    Yeah, the history of the Fed is interesting stuff but you have to question their claims if they can't even get their facts straight in part 1.
     
  17. buzuxi02

    buzuxi02 Veteran

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    Proclus Patriarch of Constantinople in around 440 a.d. wrote an epistle which said something to the effect that St John Chrysostom visited Ephesus and despoiled the monuments of Diane. Perhaps some statuaries were destroyed after John delivered a sermon, in reality what Proclus is saying is unclear, but it has nothing to do with destroying the temple which was destroyed over 130 years earlier.

    An Apocryphal book- the Acts of John claims that the evangelist John while bishop of Ephesus prayed in the pagan temple and God struck half of it down. Meanwhile those present repented and knocked the other half of the temple down.
    There doesnt seem to be any historical basis for this story. Some believe the story may have been wriitten shortly after 268 a.d. in order to put a christian spin on the destruction of the temple by the goths. Others believe this book was written before 268 a.d. (most scholars date it to a 2nd to an early 3rd century composition) The majority of scholars which give it this early date believe a small portion of the temple may have been destroyed in a minor earthquake early in the 2nd century (before 120 a.d.), and the author is trying to convince the ephesians that it was divine judgement, perhaps it was written by a christian after the temple was again restored. Ephesus was prone to earthquakes

    Regardless, most likely the neopagans are identifying the beloved disciple John the Evangelist and the portion dealing with the destruction of the temple with John Chrysostom. The apocryphal Acts of John is their source and have used it to weave together their own version of pseudohistory.

    When we see how the neopagans describe that John Chrysostom led a mob which tore down the temple without primary references, and then read the apocryphal book wriitten atleast over a century (or more) before John Chrysostom, we can see from what souces they piece together their fabrication. Here are the excerpts from the Acts of John:

    42 And as John spake these things, immediately the altar of Artemis was parted into many pieces, and all the things that were dedicated in the temple fell, and [MS. that which seemed good to him] was rent asunder, and likewise of the images of the gods more than seven. And the half of the temple fell down, so that the priest was slain at one blow by the falling of the (?roof, ? beam). The multitude of the Ephesians therefore cried out: One is the God of John, one is the God that hath pity on us, for thou only art God: now are we turned to thee, beholding thy marvellous works!......44 But the people rising up from off the floor went hastily and cast down the rest of the idol temple, crying: The God of John only do we know, and Him hereafter do we worship, since he hath had mercy upon us!
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2010
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