About Ancient Ephesian Writings and Jasper

Ephesian writings about magic and divination with references to silver and jasper

The wealth of books on magic and divination produced in the ancient city of Ephesus, in Asia Minor, was so great that the designation "Ephesian writings" was quite generally given to writings of this kind, more especially to denote short texts that could be worn as amulets or charms. We read in the Acts of the Apostles (xix, 19) that after hearing the fervent discourses of St. Paul, in which he eloquently attacked the superstitions of the Ephesians, many of those who owned books of this description were so deeply moved that they burned up all such books in their possession, to the value of 50,000 pieces of silver, that is to say $9000, equivalent perhaps to $90,000, if we make due allowance for the greater purchasing power of money nearly two thousand years ago. The small literary value of the writings of this sort that have been preserved for us indicates that the loss to posterity by this auto-da-fe was not very considerable, and yet many queer superstitions and strange usages of which we now lack information must have been noted in these magic rolls and sheets.

The following lines may serve to show how highly the jasper was esteemed in ancient times, this designation covering jade as well:

Auro, quid melius? Jaspis. Quid Jaspite? Virtus. Quid virtute? DEUS. Quid deitate? Nihil.

What is better than Gold? Jasper.

What is better than Jasper? Virtue.

What is better than Virtue? GOD.

What is better than the deity? Nothing.

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