Book burning at Ephesus

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Eustache Le Sueur - The Preaching of St Paul at Ephesus, 1649. This painting depicts books with geometric figures, in response to Galileo Galilei, that said in 1623 that "the book of nature is written in mathematical figures".[1]

The book burning at Ephesus is an incident recorded in the Book of Acts in which Christian converts at Ephesus, influenced by Saint Paul, burned their books of magic. Acts 19 records how "a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver" (v. 19, ESV).

The next verse relates how "the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily". Simon Kistemaker sees these things as closely connected: "The city of Ephesus purged itself of bad literature by burning magic books and became the depository of sacred literature that made up the canon of the New Testament."[2]

Lucio Massari, Saint Paul and the burning of pagan books at Ephesus, 1612.

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  1. ^ Crease, Robert P. (2019-03-18). "The rise and fall of scientific authority — and how to bring it back". Nature. 567 (7748): 309–310. Bibcode:2019Natur.567..309C. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-00872-w. Hanging in the Louvre Museum in Paris is an imposing painting, The Preaching of St Paul at Ephesus. In this 1649 work by Eustache Le Sueur, the fiery apostle lifts his right hand as if scolding the audience, while clutching a book of scripture in his left. Among the rapt or fearful listeners are people busily throwing books into a fire. Look carefully, and you see geometric images on some of the pages.
  2. ^ Simon Kistemaker, Acts, p. 691.