Artemis worship in Ephesus

The other day I heard a Christian detractor saying that it is a Christian invention that there was “sacred prostitution” in Artemis’ temple in Ephesus. He also claimed that since there was such a strong devotion to Artemis there, that the Christians had to co-opt her image; that is why it was said that Mary came to live in Ephesus, and since Artemis was called the Queen of Heaven and other such titles, they were attributed to Mary as well.
Obviously the person provided no sources whatsoever for these claims, so anyone whose first reaction is to say “the burden of proof is on them” can save some time; I’m not looking for that kind of an answer. I was just wondering if there are any grounds to such claims.

The short answer, biblically speaking is that King David’s mother held the office of Queen of his kingdom (not his wife). In the Old Testament, the Messiah of the Jews was foretold to come out of the line of David. Jesus then as well, would have his mother Mary hold the office of Queen of His kingdom.

If you’ll allow me, I have a story about Ephesus.

Years and years back, I accidently stumbled (in my stumbling back to the Church) onto Ephesus. We have such a very good and gracious God. :stuck_out_tongue:

I was on a month long Active Reserve trip with the US Navy (after the war to liberate Kuwait). Our group trained at Bari Italy and then we flew over to Izmir Turkey.

On the counter at the hotel where we stayed, was a brochure describing an ancient Greek and Roman city called Ephesus. No lightbulbs went off. I like archeology and a bit of history, and I had a day off. Sadly, when I look back on that, I wasn’t the only person who didn’t have a clue about Ephesus. There were 50 some other military members on that trip, no one brought up Ephesus.

Our bus tour arrived at Ephesus and we walked through the museum - past the Greek and Roman gods and goddess statues and then we go on a walking tour outside.

Our young Muslim tourguide, then walks us by a small house and in broken English he says, “And this is where it is believed that Mary lived.”

In my mind, I’m saying to myself, “Mary?” “Mary who?”

Now, I’m a bit embarassed and confussed but I’m keeping my mouth shut.

By the time the tour was over, I had walked past the grave which was once considered St. John’s and our group walked down into the colesium which is talked about in Acts 19:23-41: St. Paul and The Riot in Ephesus.

A bit of religious history about Ephesus:

"When St Paul visited Ephesus to preach Christianity in the first century AD, he was confronted by the Artemis’ cult who had no plans to abandon their goddess. And when the temple was again destroyed by the Goths in AD 262, the Ephesians vowed to rebuild. By the fourth century AD, most Ephesians had converted to Christianity and the temple lost its religious glamor. The final chapter came when in AD 401 the Temple of Artemis was torn down by St John Chrysostom.

Ephesus was later deserted, and only in the late nineteenth century has the site been excavated. "

From that website:

"Paul’s Ministry at Ephesus is recorded in Acts 18:18-21; 19:1-41; 20:17-38. Aquila and Priscilla were probably the founders of the Christian church when they came to Ephesus with Paul (Acts 18:18-19). Paul had just finished eighteen months in Corinth, at the end of his second missionary journey.

He sailed to Ephesus in company with Priscilla and Aquila. Paul went to the Jewish synagogue in Ephesus and preached (Acts 18:18-26). He then left and returned to give a report to his sending church.

Paul returned to Ephesus on his third missionary journey (Acts 19:3-6). He found some followers of John the Baptist there (Acts 19:8-12).

Paul had considerable results in Ephesus."

Isn’t it convenient that Artemis is the queen of a place not referenced in Greek mythology? If there is going to be a prime queen in Greek mythology, it’d be Hera (the wife of Zeus). But remember that they don’t have heaven or a transcended plane, they live in Mt. Olympus, while the dead humans pass through the river Styx into Hades.


Correction :o

That should read King David’s wife and subsequently King Solomon’s mother.

1 Kings 2:19

So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijab. The king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat on his right. Bathsheba approached her son.

(The king not only rises to meet her, but bowed down before her. The verse tells us the extent of Bathsheba’s personal power at the time. The king of Israel bowed down to her ; then he had a throne brought for his mother which he placed at his right. Being on the right was a place of honor, and an indication of shared power.)

1 Kings 2:20-25:

Then she said, ‘I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.’ And the king said to her, ‘Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.’

This website will give you a picture of how the great statue of Artemis was constructed that pagans came to worship.

The Greek sculpters depicted the goddess Artemis wearing a vestment of severed bull testicles.

That was one of the oddest things I’d ever seen in a museum :smiley:

From what I understand, the Romans morphed Artemis and their goddess Diana into one goddess.

actually Artemis was not the queen of heaven in Greek mythology, that was Hera wife of Zeus

Also, if interested, you might search out the line of women who held the office of Queen in Judaism.

Ester is one that is noted in Scripture.

Known in secular history, and spoken of in Scripture at Maccabees 1 & 2, is a priestly ruling class of Jews called the Hasmoneans.

The Hasmonean dynasty lasted until King Herod marries into the family and then surplants it by killing the last female heir to the Hasmoneans. Her name was Mariamne I the Hasmonean, (in English Mary).


"Herod and the end of the dynasty

Antigonus was not, however, the last Hasmonean. The fate of the remaining male members of the family under Herod was not a happy one. Aristobulus III, grandson of Aristobulus II through his elder son Alexander, was briefly made high priest, but was soon executed (36 BC) due to Herod’s jealousy. His sister, Mariamne was married to Herod, but fell victim to his notorious jealousy. Her sons by Herod, Aristobulus IV and Alexander, were in their adulthood also executed by their father."

King Herod I is of course the king who kills the innocents in the hope of killing the baby Jesus.

King Herod II is the ruler at the time that Jesus is crucified approximately 33 years later.

One last point of interest, the Hasmonian dynasty was formed out of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucids. The Maccabees’ (a Jewish family) success over the Seleucids resulted in the retaking of the Holy of Holies.

The menorah which stayed lit for 8 days is celebrated today by the Jews at Hanukkah.

From Wikipedia:

"The festival of Hanukkah was instituted by Judah Maccabee and his brothers to celebrate this event. After recovering Jerusalem and the Temple, Judah ordered the Temple to be cleansed, a new altar to be built in place of the polluted one and new holy vessels to be made.

According to the Talmud, olive oil was needed for the menorah in the Temple, which was required to burn throughout the night every night. But there was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah.

An eight day festival was declared by the Jewish sages to commemorate this miracle."

The version of the story in 1 Maccabees, on the other hand, states that an eight day celebration of songs and sacrifices was proclaimed upon re-dedication of the altar, and makes no mention of the miracle of the oil.

The National Library & Ephesus Museum of Vienna, Austria are located at Hofburg Palace and this picture is a fine example of the incredible architecture of historic building. Statues stand on the ledge of the building with majestic display in center of roof where the flag is flown. A very extensive list with few of them which include manuscripts, rare books that are old, maps, globes, portraits, music & posters.

History of Ephesus

Back to the thread.

I don’t have time right now to research Artemis worship in Ephesus, but off the top of my head I believe your interlocutor is confusing Ephesian worship of Artemis with the sacred prostitution that was conducted in Corinth.


I have done extensive research on Ephesus and the Temple of Artemis as I am writing a novel and needed it for my work.
As I was reading back over my notes today I noticed where they called Diana the “Queen of Heaven” and that is why I wanted to see if anyone on here knew anything about that. They likened the Christians venerating Mary the same as the Diana worship.

The Council of Ephesus never declared Mary “Queen of Heaven” but rather, “Theotokos” or as we’ve translated it into English, “Mother of God”. A title Artemis never held. The title “Queen of Heaven” is strictly devotional not doctrinal or dogmatic, so while is it fine to use it, that title is not officially stated by the Church.

Also, Mary is not worshipped in the Church but only venerated with what is termed “hyperdulia” which means exalted veneration. We venerate all the Saints, including Mary, but we worship only God.

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