Monday, July 27, 2015

Before I head off to bed I want to tell you about the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus. The thing I love about this story is that it is important to both Christians and Muslims. In fact, I first heard it as a Muslim story and only today became aware of it's place in Christian haigoraphy.

The short version is that during the reign of that old devil Decius there were seven young men who were Christians. In order to avoid persecution they hid, but were eventually found. As punishment Decius ordered that they be walled up in a cave where they promptly went to sleep. 300 years or so later (300 solar years according to the Muslims, which would be a different number of lunar years, and whatever. Right? It was a long time. Let's call it 300.) Three hundred years later they woke up and by then our man Theodosius II was in power -- Decius having met his fate -- and Ephesus was a Christian city. The seven sleepers appeared to some people and then I guess they died. Not sure.

The main difference between Christian and Muslim accounts is that there is a dog in the Muslim story.  The dog plays a very positive role, guarding the cave. That seems hard to square with most Muslim people's aversion to man's best friend, but... I don't know. Things can change a lot in a just a couple centuries.

Anyway, I was thinking about the allure of falling asleep for a hundred years or so. Rip Van Winkle fell asleep for only twenty, you remember. It offers escape from current troubles, and a glimpse into the future too. I wonder, if you had the chance to go to sleep for a year, or five, or ten... would you take it?

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