This heathen goddess is not merely referred to as “great” because of the praise and admiration she received. The same was a standing epithet, a proper name, distinguishing her from other inferior deities bearing the same name of Diana or Artemis. The great goddess Diana resembled the attributes of Ashtoreth (which see). She symbolized the generative and nutritive powers of nature, and so was represented with many breasts. Her original temple was founded 580 b.c., and burned by Erostratus in 356 b.c. The second temple, built in the reign of Alexander the Great in Ephesus, the capital of Asia, became a renowned center of the worship of Diana and was the idol “whom all Asia and the world worshipped.” A lucrative trade was developed by the silversmiths in silver replicas of Diana. As the result of Paul’s powerful ministry in Ephesus, not only were curious arts and books of divination burned, but the silver shrine of Diana trade also received its death blow. Through the intervention of the town clerk of Ephesus, Paul was saved from rough handling by the enraged silversmiths.
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