I’ve always been a history buff.
I think learning about people and cultures of the past and how they affect the present is fascinating. I also love lining up world history with Biblical events and writings. Learning about the culture and circumstances surrounding a particular book of the Bible or Biblical event adds context and a depth of understanding you wouldn’t have otherwise.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to review the newly released DVD Exploring Ephesus: City of Apostles from FishFlix.com. The hour long DVD is styled like a travel show, hosted by Biblical and historical experts Dr. Mark Wilson and Dr. Andy Jackson.
Ephesus plays a uniquely important role in Biblical history. It was the hub of Christianity in the early church, and it served as a home base for the Apostle Paul for three years, as he worked to spread the Gospel in the Roman province of Asia. He wrote his first letter to the Corinthians from Ephesus. It’s the site of the famous (or infamous) riot in Acts chapter 19, and is one of the seven churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. It’s also the traditional location where the Apostle John spent his last days after returning from exile on the island of Patmos, and wrote his Gospel and epistles. Not to mention, it happens to be one of the best excavated and reconstructed Greco-Roman cities in the world.
All of these things are discussed in the course of the movie. We get to visit the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), the amphitheater where the riot took place, the agora where Paul would have worked as a tentmaker, and other significant landmarks – even the Apostle John’s tomb! There are also trips to Laodicea, the site of another of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation, and the island of Patmos, where the Apostle John received the vision that he wrote down the book of Revelation.
The DVD also has several bonus features, including discussions and insights on the book of Ephesians and the seven churches mentioned in Revelation.
Since I’m fascinated by history, and Biblical history in particular, I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD. Although occasionally their banter is a bit cheesy, Dr. Wilson and Dr. Jackson do a fantastic job at bringing out the elements of the culture and it’s symbols that the imagery in the book of Revelation draws on, and the aspects of life that shaped and informed the issues Paul addressed in his letters. Plus, it’s just pretty cool to see some of the actual landmarks and locations that have survived since Paul and John’s day: the site of the riot in Acts 19, the agora where Paul would have spent many ordinary days, the rocky, barren landscape where John received his vision. Seeing the remains of the intricate water system in Laodicea and hearing the explanation of how it worked brings to life Revelation 3: 15-17:
“15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Exploring Ephesus would make a great addition to a study of Ephesians or Revelation for a small group, Sunday School, or youth group. It’s probably not going to hold the attention of younger children, but high school through adult will enjoy it and the insights and context it offers to the Biblical books.
Here’s the trailer:
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