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Jewish Community of Ephesus
It is a known fact that there was a massive local Jewish population in Asia Minor. Ephesus, being the largest city of its area, attracted many Jewish citizens of the Roman Empire.
Apostle Paul in Ephesus Synagogue
Apostle Paul clearly mentions in the Holy Bible that there was a Jewish community and a synagogue in Ephesus. We know that Jewish people had been in Ephesus for more than two hundred years when Apostle Paul arrived.
” Paul went into the synagogue and during three months spoke boldly with the people, holding discussions with them and trying to convince them about the Kingdom of God.”Acts 19:8-32
Mention of Ephesus Synagogue in Roman Texts
Roman consul and later pro consul of Asia Caius Norbanus Flaccus mentions in his letter to Ephesus that Jewish people of Ephesus are given the right to practice religion in their own temples by Emperor Caesar. This official letter confirms the existence of the synagogue in Ephesus city.
The Jewish community of Ephesus was known to be Hellenized since the Jewish named tombstones found in Ephesus during excavations had names written in Greek.
Possible Location of Synagogue of Ephesus
We still haven’t found any physical buildings in Ephesus which can be identified as a synagogue. There are some clues about the Jewish culture in Ephesus such as a menorah carved on the steps of the Celsus Library, seven-branched candlestick discovered during the excavations of a Jewish lamp found in the Gymnasium by the grand theater of Ephesus. Gymnasium of Ephesus is the biggest candidate to be the location of the Synagogue of Ephesus.