Thursday, April 15, 2010

Celsus Library near Ephesus, Turkey

After arriving at Kusadasi, Turkey we took a bus to the ruins of Ephesus the best rebuilt of the Biblical ruins I have ever visited. Ephesus was an ancient Ionian Greek city; its ruins lie near the modern Town of Selcuk and only 20 minutes drive from Kusadasi. It was situated south of the Cayster River, and was the site of the Temple of Artemis.
After viewing a good part of the items on a road paved with wide flat rocks we came upon what was called Celsus Library. This library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. It was built in 117 A.D. It was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia; from his son Galius Julius Aquila. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor, across the entrance and there was a statue of Athena over it since Athena was the goddess of wisdom.
I view the front of this restored structure and was fascinated with not only the features of the building but the records it contained at one time in the past.
It is said, the scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent them from the extremes of temperature and humidity. At one time the capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum compliment to the era.
The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. There are three windows openings in the upper story. They used an optical trick that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size.
The statues between the columns today are the copies of the originals. They symbolize wisdom, knowledge, intelligence and valor. These are the virtues of Celsus. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the original statues were taken to the Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.
There was an auditorium, which was for lectures or presentations between the library and the Marble Road, was built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.
It is believed that the evangelist St. John had spent his last years in the region around Ephesus and was buried in the southern slope of Ayosolug Hill. Three hundred years after the death of St. John, a small chapel was constructed over the grave in the 4th century. The church of St John was changed into a marvelous basilica during the region of Emperor Justinian (527 -565 AD).
The Apostle John was the writer of the Fourth Gospel, Three Epistles and the book of Revelation. The accounts of the Gospels agree that he is the son of Zebedee; together with his brother James, who began to follow Jesus while fishing in the Lake Galilee. He became one of the Christ’s closest disciples and was with him on various significant events such as the Transfiguration and the Crucifixion. At his writings when Jesus was on his torture stake he said that: ‘Mother, this is your Son’. And to his beloved disciple, ‘this is Your Mother’ (John 19:26-27).The beloved disciple is thought to have been St John.
The second half of the first century was full of persecution for the early Christians. According to tradition John took The Mother Mary and came to Ephesus. He wrote his Gospel in Ephesus and the Revelation on Greece Island of Patmos, where I also sincerely enjoyed visiting.
Luke, the author of the Gospel of Luke and a companion of the Apostle Paul was born in Antioch also in Asia Minor. He was the patron of the medical profession. His symbol was the bull, the third symbolical beast mentioned by Ezekiel (1:10), which is a symbol of Christ's sacrificial and priestly office, as pointed out by St. Irenaeus.
In Ephesus, there was a circular structure which was described as the grave of St Luke because of the bull carved into the door.
I have always delighted in seeing many of the relics and excavations in Biblical sites.
“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!“--John 19:26

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn., He is a freelance writer living in Ashville, Ohio and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally. To see photos and read other stories click on

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