Life and Death in Ephesus, Excerpt by Finlay McQade

For over a thousand years, Ephesus, on the Aegean coast of what is now Turkey, was a thriving city. It was the site of the Temple of Artemis, one of the Wonders of the World, and a destination for religious pilgrimage long before the advent of Christianity. In the first century CE, St. John and St. Paul introduced Christianity to Ephesus, where it survived its turbulent beginnings and, in the fifth century CE, hosted the God-defining Council of Ephesus.

Life and Death in Ephesus is a collection of stories about major events in the history of Ephesus. Characters appearing in these stories include Herostratus, first to commit a “herostratic crime”; Alexander, the warrior king; Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, both lovers of Cleopatra; Heraclitus, the philosopher who said, “You can’t put your foot in the same river twice”; St. Paul, persona non grata in Ephesus; Nestorius, whose characterization of Jesus split the Eastern and Western church, and others, also important, whose names I have had to make up.

Hilke Thür, a leading archeologist, has said of these stories, “Life and Death in Ephesus will be a delightful and enjoyable accompaniment to the many available guidebooks. Not just tourists, but anyone interested in history will benefit from reading them.”

Excerpt From “The Sons of Sceva”

Beniamin stepped back to confront the seated woman, and Iakov, knowing what was expected of him, delved into the pouch he had grabbed before leaving the house, and took out a little box of sulphur paste, from which Beniamin, calmly professional, extracted a dab on the tip of his thumb. This he spread on Berenice’s upper lip beneath her nostrils, causing her immediately to sneeze, and sneeze again, wrenching at the firm grip Samouel and Eugenios had on her arms.

Towering above her now, his arms raised for effect, Beniamin began his incantation. “Vile spirit, I adjure you to come out of Berenice, wife of Marcus Tullianus Eusebius, and never again to approach her. I adjure you in the name of Solomon, of the house of David, King of Israel, to whom God gave the wisdom to discern between good and evil, and I adjure you in the name of Jesus, also of the house of David, son of God, who could walk on water and raise himself from the dead—”

As soon as he uttered the name of Jesus, Berenice let loose her last, climactic sneeze, after which she paused, staring at Beniamin in wide-eyed alarm, and then she slumped limply downwards, as if when leaving her body the evil spirit had taken all the stiffness out of her bones.

Universal Link:

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:
Amazon CA:
Amazon AU:
Barnes and Noble:

Meet Finlay McQuade

Finlay McQuade is a retired educator. He was born in Ireland, went to high school in England, and university in the USA. He has a BA in English from Pomona College, an MA in British and American literature from Harvard University, and a PhD in education from the University of Pittsburgh, where he also taught writing courses in the English department. He spent some happy years as a high school English teacher and soccer coach, but after co-authoring the book How to Make a Better School he found himself in demand as a consultant to schools and school improvement projects in the USA and often, also, abroad. He ended his career in education when he retired from Bogazici University in Istanbul, where he had mentored young teachers in the school of education.

For eight years after retirement, he lived in Selcuk, Turkey, among the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. The streets and squares of Ephesus became his neighborhood. His companions included archeologists, tour guides, and souvenir sellers. His curiosity about the people who had lived in those empty buildings for over a thousand years resulted in Life and Death in Ephesus, a collection of stories chronicling major events in the city’s history.

Now, back in the USA with time on his hands, he finds himself returning again and again to memories of his boyhood on the coast of Northern Ireland. The result of these forays into his past will be another collection of stories, part memoir, part fiction, called Growing Up in Ulster.

Connect with Finlay

Amazon Author Page:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *