Antioch

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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

(Ἀντιόχεια)

1. In Syria. -About 20 miles from the Mediterranean, the Orontes, turning abruptly westward, enters a fertile plain, 10 miles long and 5 wide, which separates the great Lebanon range from the last spurs of the Taurus. Here Seleucus Nicator, after his defeat of Antigonus at Issus in 301 b.c., discovered an ideal site for the capital of his Syrian kingdom, the Asiatic portion of the vast empire of Alexander the Great, and here he built the most famous of the 16 Antiochs which he founded in honour of his father Antiochus. Planned by Xenarius, the original city occupied the level ground between the river and Mt. Silpius, and, like all the Hellenistic foundations in Syria, it had two broad colonnaded streets intersecting at the centre, or Omphalus. The Seleucid kings vied with one another in extending and adorning their metropolis. A second quarter was added on the eastern side, perhaps by Antiochus I.; a third, the ‘New City,’ was built by Seleucus Callinicus on an island-similar to the island in the Seine at Paris-which has since disappeared, probably owing to one of those seismic disturbances to which the region has always been peculiarly subject; and a fourth, on the lowest slopes of Silpius, was the work of Antiochus Epiphanes. Henceforth the city was known as a Tetrapolis, or union of four cities (Strabo, xvi. ii. 4). Such was the magnificent Greek substitute for the ancient and beautiful but too essentially Semitic capital of Syria-Damascus. A navigable river and a fine seaport-Seleucia of Pieria-made it practically a maritime city, while caravan roads converging from Arabia and Mesopotamia brought to it the commerce of the East. It attained its highest political importance in the time of Antiochus the Great, whose power was shattered by the Romans at Magnesia. In 83 b.c. it fell into the hands of Tigranes of Armenia, from whom it was wrested by the Roman Republic in 65 b.c. Thereafter it was the capital of the province of Syria, and the residence of the Imperial legate. Pompey made it a civitas libera , and such it remained till the time of Antoninus Pius, who made it a colonia . The early emperors often visited it, and embellished it with new streets and public buildings.

During the Jewish wars (69 b.c.) ‘Vespasian took with him his army from Antioch, which is the metropolis of Syria, and without dispute deserves the place of the third city in the habitable world that is under the Roman Empire, both in magnitude and in other marks of prosperity’ (Job. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) iii. ii. 4). In the 4th cent. Chrysostom estimated the population at 200,000, of whom 100,000 were then Christians, and probably he did not reckon slaves and children.

Antioch was called ‘the Beautiful’ (ἡ καλή [Athen. i. p. 20]), but its moral repute was never high. ‘In no city of antiquity was the enjoyment of life so much the main thing, and its duties so incidental, as in “Antioch upon Daphne,” as the city was significantly called’ (Mommsen, Prov . 2, 1909, ii. 128). The pleasure-garden of Daphne, 5 miles from the city, 10 miles in circumference, with its sanctuary of Apollo, its groves of laurel and cypress, its sparkling fountains, its colonnades and halls and baths, has come down through history with an evil name. Daphnici mores were proverbial, and Juvenal flung one of his wittiest jibes at his own decadent Imperial city when he said that the Orontes had flowed into the Tiber ( Sat . iii. 62), flooding Rome with the superstition and immorality of the East. The brilliant civilization and perfect art of the Greek failed to redeem the turbulent, fickle, and dissolute character of the Syrian. Instead of either race being improved by the contact, each rather infected the other with its characteristic vices. Cicero flattered Antioch as a city of ‘most learned men and most liberal studies’ ( pro Arch . iii.), but the sober verdict of history is different.

‘Amidst all this luxury the Muses did not find themselves at home; science in earnest and not less earnest art were never truly cultivated in Syria and more especially in Antioch.… This people valued only the day. No Greek region has so few memorial-stones to shown as Syria; the great Antioch, the third city of the empire, has-to say nothing of the land of hieroglyphics and obelisks-left behind fewer inscriptions than many a small African or Arabian village’ (Mommsen, op. cit. 130, 131f.)

No city, however, after Jerusalem, is so closely associated with the Apostolic Church. From its very foundation it had in its population a strong Jewish element, attracted by the offer of ‘privileges equal to those of the Macedonians and Greeks’ (Jos. Ant . xii. iii. 1). The Jewish nation ‘had the greatest multitudes in Antioch by reason of the size of the city.… They made proselytes of a great many of the Greeks perpetually, and thereby, after a sort, brought them to be a portion of their own body’ ( Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) vii. iii. 3). While the Judaism of Antioch did not assimilate Hellenic culture so readily as that of Alexandria, and certainly made no such contribution to the permanent thought of the world, it yet did much to prepare the city for the gospel. ‘Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch,’ who was early won to Christianity, and is named among the Seven of the Jerusalem Church ( Acts 6:5), was evidently one of that great number of Antiochene Greeks who had previously felt the spell of the Jewish faith. And it was the mixture of national element in the Church of Antioch-pure Greeks with Greek-speaking Jews-that peculiarly fitted her to play a remarkable part in the Apostolic Age. Her distinction was that, while unquestionably the daughter of the Jewish Christian community at Jerusalem, full of filial gratitude and devotion, she became the first Gentile Church, and the mother of all the others. The diaspora that followed the death of Stephen brought many fugitive Jewish Christian preachers to Antioch, and some Cypriotes and Cyrenians among them inaugurated a new era by going beyond the Hellenist Jews for an audience and preaching to ‘the Greeks also’ ( Acts 11:20). καὶ πρὸς τοὺς Ἕλληνας is probably the correct reading, in spite of ‘many ancient authorities’ who have Ἑλληνιστάς; otherwise the historian’s words would be singularly pointless. The new evangelism resulted in many conversions ( Acts 11:21), and the vigilant Church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas down, if not to assist in the work, at least to supervise it. It was the merit of Barnabas that he could not be a mere onlooker. Grasping the situation, and flinging himself impetuously into the novel movement, he went, apparently without consulting anybody, to Tarsus to summon Paul to his lifework. In Antioch the two men exercised a united and fruitful ministry for a year ( Acts 11:22-26). It was at this time and in this place that ‘the disciples were first called Christians’ ( Acts 11:26), the designation probably coming from the lively populace, who quickly noted the new phenomenon in their midst, and justified their reputation for the invention of nicknames. Their wit never spared anybody who seemed worthy of their attention.

‘The only talent which indisputably belonged to them-their mastery of ridicule-they exercised not merely against the actors of their stage, but no less against the rulers sojourning in the capital of the East, and the ridicule was quite the same against the actor as against the emperor.’ While Julian ‘met their sarcastic sayings with satirical writings, the Antiochenes at other times had to pay more severely for their evil speaking and their other sins’ (Mommsen, Provinces , ii. 134, 135).

But the ‘Christians’ gratefully accepted the mocking sobriquet bestowed upon them, changing it into the most honourable of all titles (cf.  1 Peter 4:16). And the first Gentile Church was now to become the first missionary Church. While Antioch was never wanting in respect for Jerusalem, contributing liberally to its poor in a time of famine, and consulting its leaders in all matters of doctrine and practice, her distinguishing characteristic was her evangelistic originality. Her heart was not in Judaea but in the Roman Empire. The fresh ideas of Christian liberty and Christian duty, which the mother-Church at Jerusalem was slow to entertain, found ready acceptance in the freer atmosphere of the Syrian capital. That the victory over Judaism was not easily won even there is proved by the fact that not only Peter but Barnabas vacillated under the alternate influence of cosmopolitan liberalism and Judaea n narrowness, till Paul’s arguments and rebukes convinced them of their error ( Galatians 2:4-14). But contact with the great world and sympathy with its needs probably did more than the force of reason to lighten the Antiochene Church of the dead-weight of Judaism. Christians of Hellenic culture and Roman citizenship taught her a noble universalism, and it was accordingly at the instance of the Church of Antioch that the Council of Jerusalem sent to the Gentile converts a circular letter which became the charter of spiritual freedom ( Acts 15:23-29). Above all, it was from Antioch that Paul started on each of his missionary journeys ( Acts 11:1-3;  Acts 15:36;  Acts 18:23), and to Antioch that he returned again and again with his report of fresh conquests ( Acts 14:26;  Acts 18:22). It was master-minds of Christian Antioch who at length changed the pathetic dream of ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles’ into a reality.

Antioch gave rise to a school of Christian thought which was distinguished by literal interpretation of the Scriptures and insistence upon the human limitations of Jesus. Theodore of Mopsuestia was one of its best representatives. Between the years 252 and 380, ten Councils were held at Antioch. Antakiyeh is now but a meagre town of 600 inhabitants, though its environs ‘are even at the present day, in spite of all neglect, a blooming garden and one of the most charming spots on earth’ (Mommsen, ii. 129).

Literature.-C. O. Müller, Antiquitates Antiochenœ , Göttingen, 1839; Conybeare-Howson, St. Paul , London, 1872, i. 149ff.; W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen , do. 1895, also Church in Rom. Emp. , do. 1893, chs. ii.-vii., xvi.; A.C. McGiffert, Apostolic Age , Edinburgh, 1897; C. v. Weizsäcker, Apostolic Age , Eng. translation, London, 1897.

2. In Pisidia ( Acts 13:14 Revised Version, Ἀ. τὴν Πισιδίαν, ‘Pisidian Antioch,’ which is the correct reading, instead of Ἀ. τῆς Πισιδίας).-This city was probably founded by Seleucus Nicator (301-280 b.c.) about the same time as Syrian Antioch, being another of the many cities which he called after his father Antiochus. It was intended as a garrison town and a centre of Hellenic influence in the heart of Asia Minor, commanding the great trade route between Ephesus and the Cilician Gates. Guided by Strabo’s description of the place (xii. viii. 14), as standing ‘on a height’ to the south of a ‘backbone of mountains, stretching from east to west,’ Arundell identified it in 1833 with the extensive ruins of Yalowatch , on the skirts of the long Sultan Dagh , about 3600ft. above sea-level, overlooking the great plain which is drained by the river Anthios.

After the battle of Magnesia (190 b.c.), which cost Antiochus the Great the whole of his dominions north of the Taurus, the Romans made Antioch a free city. In 39 b.c. Mark Antony gave it to king Amyntas, after whose death in 25 b.c. it became a city of the vast Roman province of Galatia. At some time before 6 b.c., Augustus raised it to the rank of a colony- Pisidarum colonia Cœsarea (Pliny, Historia Naturalis (Pliny) v. 24)-and made it the governing and military centre of the southern half of the province. Its importance increased when the first emperors found it necessary to pacify the ‘barbarian’ high-landers of Pisidia. ‘In the mountain-land proper no trace of Hellenistic settlement is found, and still less did the Roman senate apply itself to this difficult task. Augustus did so; and only here in the whole Greek coast we meet a series of colonies of Roman veterans evidently intended to acquire this district for peaceful settlement’ (Mommsen, Provinces , i. 336f.). Roman roads connected Antioch with all the other colonies founded in the district-Olbasa, Comama, Cremna, Parlais, and Lystra. The work of pacification was in especially active progress during the reign of Claudius (a.d. 41-54), in which St. Paul visited Antioch. The city was not yet ‘Antioch in Pisidia’ (Authorized Version), being correctly styled by Strabo ‘Antioch towards Pisidia’ (Ἀ. ἡ πρὸς Πισιδίᾳ καλουμένη [xii. viii. 14]), in distinction from Antioch on the Maeander; but St. Luke already calls it ‘Pisidian Antioch,’ to differentiate it from Antioch in Syria. The boundaries of Pisidia gradually moved northward till it included most of Southern Phrygia, and then ‘Antioch of Pisidia’ became the usual designation of the city. At a still later period Pisidia was constituted a Roman province, with Antioch as its capital.

On the South-Galatian theory, in the form advocated by Ramsay ( Church in Rom. Emp. , 74ff.), Antioch is regarded by St. Luke as belonging to the Phrygio-Galatic region (τὴν Φρυγίαν καὶ Γαλατικὴν χώραν,  Acts 16:6), Phrygian being a geographical term and Galatic a political, the one used by the Greeks and the other by the Roman government. In  Acts 18:23 the region is simply called ‘Phrygian,’ and if, as many think, Φρυγίαν is here to be taken as a noun, the sense is still much the same (see Galatia and Phrygia). St. Paul’s first mission to Antioch was so successful that the whole political regio of which this colony was the centre soon heard of the new faith ( Acts 13:49). In no other Asian city, except Ephesus, was the influence of his preaching so far-reaching. His success was no doubt in great measure due to the strong Jewish element in the population, even though it was Jewish persecution that compelled him to leave the city for a time ( Acts 13:45;  Acts 13:50). The early Seleucid kings settled Jews in many of their cities, and gave them the same civic rights as the Greeks, finding them to be trusty supporters and often real Hellenizers. Antiochus the Great settled 2000 Jewish families in Lydia and Phrygia (Jos. Ant . xii. iii. 4), many of whom must have found a home in Antioch. Trade doubtless attracted others to so important a centre, and thus the Jewish leaven had been working for a long time before Christianity was introduced. Ramsay thinks that ‘the Jews are likely to have exercised greater political power among the Anatolian people, with their yielding and easily moulded minds, than in any other part of the Roman world’ ( Hist. Com. on Gal. , 193); and their spiritual influence was at least as great. St. Paul found many ‘devout proselytes’ in Antioch ( Acts 13:43), and his presence attracted ‘the whole city’ to the synagogue ( Acts 13:44). While the native Phrygian type or religious feeling was more eastern than western, and thus had a certain natural affinity with the Semitic type, the Phrygian Jews, whose laxity gave deep offence to the rigidly orthodox, no doubt increased their power among their neighbours by their freedom from bigotry. The attraction of the Jewish faith for Gentile women (τὰς σεβομένας γυναῖκας,  Acts 13:50) was a familiar theme in ancient writings (Juvenal, vi. 543; Jos. Bellum Judaicum (Josephus) ii. xx. 2); and the influence of ‘women of honourable estate’ (τὰς εὐσχήμονας), not only in Antioch but in Asia Minor generally, is one of the most striking features in the social life of the country (Conybeare-Howson, St. Paul , i. 219; Ramsay, Church in Rom. Emp. , 67). Strabo ( loc. cit. ) mentions another fact which may help to explain the rapid progress of Christianity in Antioch: ‘In this place was established a priesthood of Mçn Arcaeus, having attached to it a multitude of temple slaves and tracts of sacred territory. It was abolished after the death of Amyntas by those who were sent to settle the succession to his kingdom.’ This drastic action of the Romans had removed one of the greatest obstacles to the new faith-the vested interests of an old and powerful hierarchy.

Literature.-F. V. J. Arundell, Discoveries in Asia Minor , London, 1834, i. 281f.; Conybeare-Howson, St. Paul , do. 1872, i. 204f.; W. M. Ramsay, Hist. Com. on Gal. , do. 1899, pp. 196-213, Church in Rom. Emp. , do. 1893, passim  ; J. R. S. Sterrett, Wolfe Expedition to Asia Minor , Boston, 1888, p. 218f.

James Strahan.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

ANTIOCH (Syrian). By the issue of the battle of Ipsus, Seleucus Nikator (b.c. 312 280) secured the rule over most of Alexander the Great’s Asiatic empire, which stretched from the Hellespont and the Mediterranean on the one side to the Jaxartes and Indus on the other. The Seleucid dynasty, which he founded, lasted for 247 years. Possessed with a mama for building cities and calling them after himself or his relatives, he founded no fewer than 37, of which 4 are mentioned in the NT (1) Antioch of Syria (  Acts 11:19 ), (2) Seleucia (  Acts 13:4 ), (3) Antioch of Pisidia (  Acts 13:14;   Acts 14:21 ,   2 Timothy 3:11 ), and (4) Laodicea (  Colossians 4:13-16 ,   Revelation 1:11;   Revelation 3:14 ). The most famous of the 16 Antiochs, which he built and named after his father Antiochus, was Antioch on the Orontes in Syria. The spot was carefully chosen, and religious sanction given to it by the invention of a story that sacred birds had revealed the site while he watched their flight from a neighbouring eminence. It was politically of advantage that the seat of empire should be removed from the Euphrates valley to a locality nearer the Mediterranean. The new city lay in the deep bend of the Levant, about 300 miles N. of Jerusalem. Though 14 miles from the sea, the navigable river Orontes, on whose left bank it was built, united it with Seleucia and its splendid harbour. Connected thus by the main caravan roads with the commerce of Babylon, Persia, and India, and with a seaport keeping it in touch with the great world to the W., Antioch speedily fell heir to that vast trade which had once been the monopoly of Tyre. Its seaport Seleucia was a great fortress, like Gibraltar or Sebastopol. Seleucus attracted to his new capital thousands of Jews, by offering them equal rights of citizenship with all the other inhabitants. The citizens were divided into 18 wards, and each commune attended to its own municipal affairs.

His successor, Antiochus I., Soter (b.c. 280 261), introduced an abundant water supply into the city, so that every private house had its own pipe, and every public spot its graceful fountain. He further strove to render Antioch the intellectual rival of Alexandria, by inviting to his court scholars, such as Aratus the astronomer, and by superintending the translation into Greek of learned works in foreign tongues. In this way the invaluable history of Babylon by Berosus, the Chaldæan priest, has been rescued from oblivion.

The succession of wars which now broke out between the Seleucidæ and the Ptolemys is described in  Daniel 11:1-45 . The fortunes of the war varied greatly. Under the next king but one, Seleucus II., Kallinikus (b.c. 246 226), Ptolemy Euergetes captured Seleucia, installed an Egyptian garrison in it, and harried the Seleucid empire as far as Susiana and Bactria, carrying off to Egypt an immense spoil. Worsted on the field, Kallinikus devoted himself to the embellishment of his royal city. As founded by S. Nikator, Antioch had consisted of a single quarter. Antiochus I., Soter , had added a second, but Kallinikus now included a third, by annexing to the city the island in the river and connecting it to the mainland by five bridges. In this new area the streets were all at right angles, and at the intersection of the two principal roads the way was spanned by a tetrapylon, a covered colonnade with four gates. The city was further adorned with costly temples, porticoes, and statues. But the most remarkable engineering feat begun in this reign was the excavation of the great dock at Seleucia, the building of the protecting moles, and the cutting of a canal inland through high masses of solid rock. The canal is successively a cutting and a tunnel, the parts open to the sky aggregating in all 1869 ft., in some places cut to the depth of 120 ft., while the portions excavated as tunnels (usually 24 ft. high) amount in all to 395 ft.

With Antiochus III., the Great (b.c. 223 187), the fortunes of the city revived. He drove out the Egyptian garrison from Seleucia, ended the Ptolemaic sovereignty over Judæa, reduced all Palestine and nearly all Asia Minor to his sway, until his might was finally shattered by the Romans in the irretrievable defeat of Magnesia (b.c. 190). After the assassination of his son Seleucus IV., Philopator (b.c. 187 175), who was occupied mostly in repairing the financial losses his kingdom had sustained, the brilliant but wholly unprincipled youth Antiochus IV. Epiphanes (b.c. 175 164), succeeded to the throne. With the buffoonery of a Caligula and the vice of a Nero, he united the genius for architecture and Greek culture which he inherited from his race. In his dreams Antioch was to be a metropolls, second to none for beauty, and Greek art and Greek religion were to be the uniform rule throughout all his dominions. To the three quarters already existing he added a fourth, which earned for Antioch the title ‘Tetrapolis.’ Here he erected a Senate House, a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus on one of the eminences of Mt. Silpius, and a strong citadel on another spur of the mountains that surround the city. From E. to W. of Antioch he laid out a splendid corso with double colonnades, which ran for 5 miles in a straight line. In wet weather the populace could walk from end to end under cover. Trees, flowers, and fountains adorned the promenade; and poets sang of the beauty of the statue of Apollo and of the Nymphæum which he erected near the river. To avert the anger of the gods during a season of pestilence, he ordered the sculptor Leios to hew Mt. Silpius into one vast statue of Charon, the infernal ferryman. It frowned over the city, and was named the Charonium. Epiphanes’ policy of Hellenizing Palestine evoked the determined opposition of the Maccabees, and in the wars which ensued his forces suffered many defeats, though the injuries and atrocities he committed in Jerusalem were unspeakable. With Antiochus Epiphanes died the grandeur of the Syrian throne.

Succeeding princes exercised only a very moderate influence over the fortunes of Palestine, and the palmy days of Antioch as a centre of political power were gone for ever. The city was the scene of many a bloody conflict in the years of the later Seleucidæ, as usurper after usurper tried to wade through blood to the throne, and was shortly after overcome by some rival. In several of these struggles the Jews took part, and as the power of Antioch waned, the strength and practical independence of the Jewish Hasmonæan princes increased. In b.c. 83 all Syria passed into the hands of Tigranes, king of Armenia, who remained master of Antioch for 14 years. When Tigranes was overwhelmed by the Romans, Pompey put an end to the Seleucid dynasty, and the line of Antiochene monarchs expired in b.c. 65. The strong Pax Romana gave new vigour to the city. Antioch was made a free city, and became the seat of the prefect and the capital of the Roman province of Syria. Mark Antony ordered the release of all the Jews in it enslaved during the recent disturbances, and the restoration of their property. As a reward for Antioch’s fidelity to him, Julius Cæsar built a splendid basilica, the Cæsareum , and gave, besides, a new aqueduct, theatre, and public baths. Augustus, Agrippa, Herod the Great, Tiberius, and, later, Antoninus Pius, all greatly embellished the city, contributing many new and striking architectural features. The ancient walls were rebuilt to the height of 50 60 ft., with a thickness at the top of 8 ft., and surmounted by gigantic towers. The vast rampart was carried across ravines up the mountain slope to the very summit of the hills which overlook the city. Antioch seemed thus to be defended by a mountainous bulwark, 7 miles in circuit. Earthquakes have in later ages demolished these walls, though some of the Roman castles are still standing.

When Christianity reached Antioch, it was a great city of over 500,000 inhabitants, called the ‘Queen of the East,’ the ‘Third Metropolis of the Roman Empire.’ In ‘Antioch the Beautiful’ there was to be found everything which Italian wealth, Greek æstheticism, and Oriental luxury could produce. The ancient writers, however, are unanimous in describing the city as one of the foulest and most depraved in the world. Cosmopolitan in disposition, the citizens acted as if they were emancipated from every law, human or Divine. Licentiousness, superstition, quackery, indecency, every fierce and base passion, were displayed by the populace; their skill in coining scurrilous verses was notorious, their sordid, fickle, turbulent, and insolent ways rendered the name of Antioch a byword for all that was wicked. Their brilliance and energy, so praised by Cicero, were balanced by an incurable levity and shameless disregard for the first principles of morality. So infamous was the grove of Daphne, five miles out of the city, filled with shrines to Apollo, Venus, Isis, etc., and crowded with theatres, baths, taverns, and dancing saloons, that soldiers detected there were punished and dismissed the Imperial service. ‘Daphnic morals’ became a proverb. Juvenal could find no more forcible way of describing the pollutions of Rome than by saying, ‘The Orontes has flowed into the Tiber.’ In this Vanity Fair the Jews were resident in large numbers, yet they exerted little or no influence on the morals of the city. We hear, however, of one Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch ( Acts 6:5 ), and there may have been more. But after the death of St. Stephen, Christian fugitives from persecution fled as far north as Antioch, began to preach to the Greeks there (  Acts 11:19 ), and a great number believed. So great was the work that the Jerus. Church sent Barnabas to assist, who, finding that more help was needed, sought out and fetched Saul from Tarsus. There they continued a year, and built up a strong Church. Antioch had the honour of being the birthplace of (1) the name ‘Christian’ (  Acts 11:26 ), and (2) of foreign missions. From this city Paul and Barnabas started on their first missionary journey (  Acts 13:1-4 ), and to Antioch they returned at the end of the tour (  Acts 14:26 ). The second journey was begun from and ended at Antioch (  Acts 15:35-41;   Acts 18:22 ); and the city was again the starting-point of the third tour (  Acts 18:23 ). The Antiochene Church contributed liberally to the poor saints in Jerus. during the famine (  Acts 11:27-30 ). Here also the dispute regarding the circumcision of Gentile converts broke out (  Acts 15:1-22 ), and here Paul withstood Peter for his inconsistency (  Galatians 2:11-21 ). After the fall of Jerusalem, Antioch became the true centre of Christianity. A gate still bears the name of ‘St. Paul’s Gate.’ It was from Antioch that Ignatius set out on his march to martyrdom at Rome. The city claimed as its natives John Chrysostom, Ammianus Marcellinus, Evagrius, and Libanius. From a.d. 252 380 Antioch was the scene of ten Church Councils. The Patriarch of Antioch took precedence of those of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. Antioch was captured in a.d. 260 by Sapor of Persia; in a.d. 538 it was burned by Chosroes; rebuilt by Justinian, it again fell before the Saracens in a.d. 635. Nicephorus Phocas recovered it in a.d. 969, but in a.d. 1084 it fell to the Seljuk Turks. The first Crusaders retook it in 1098 after a celebrated siege, signalized by the ‘invention of the Holy Lance’; but in 1268 it passed finally into the hands of the Turks. Earthquakes have added to the ruining hand of man. Those of b.c. 184, a.d. 37, 115, 457, and esp. 526 (when 200,000 persons perished), 528, 1170, and 1872 have been the most disastrous. The once vast city has shrunk into a small, ignoble, and dirty town of 6,000 inhabitants, still, however, hearing the name of Antaki (Turkish) or Antakiyah (Arabic). It is again the centre of a Christian mission, and the Church of Antioch, as of old, is seeking to enlighten the surrounding darkness.

G. A. Frank Knight.

ANTIOCH (Pisidian). The expression ‘Antioch of Pisidia’ or ‘Antioch in Pisidia’ is incorrect, as the town was not in Pisidia. Its official title was ‘Antioch near Pisidia,’ and as it existed for the sake of Pisidia, the adjective ‘Pisidian’ was sometimes loosely attached to it. It was actually in the ethnic district of Phrygia, and in the Roman province of Galatia (that region of it called Phrygia Galatica). Founded by the inhabitants of Magnesia, it was made a free town by the Romans, and a colonia was established there by the emperor Augustus to keep the barbarians of the neighbourhood in check. The municipal government became Roman, and the official language Latin. St. Paul visited it four times (  Acts 13:14;   Acts 14:21;   Acts 16:6;   Acts 18:22 ), and it is one of the churches addressed in the Epistle to the Galatians.

A. Souter.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

a city of Upper Syria, on the river Orontes, about twenty miles from the place where it discharges itself into the Mediterranean. It was built by Seleucus Nicanor, about three hundred years before Christ; and became the seat of empire of the Syrian kings of the Macedonian race, and afterward of the Roman governors of the eastern provinces; being very centrally and commodiously situated midway between Constantinople and Alexandria, about seven hundred miles from each, in 37 17' north latitude, and 36 45' east longitude. No city perhaps, Jerusalem excepted, has experienced more frequent revolutions, or suffered more numerous and dire calamities, than Antioch; as, besides the common plagues of eastern cities, pestilence, famine, fire, and sword, it has several times been entirely overthrown by earthquakes.

In 362, the emperor Julian spent some months at Antioch; which were chiefly occupied in his favourite object of reviving the mythology of Paganism. The grove at Daphne, planted by Seleucus, which, with its temple and oracle, presented, during the reigns of the Macedonian kings of Syria, the most splendid and fashionable place of resort for Pagan worship in the east, had sunk into neglect since the establishment of Christianity. The altar of the god was deserted, the oracle was silenced, and the sacred grove itself defiled by the interment of Christians. Julian undertook to restore the ancient honours and usages of the place; but it was first necessary to take away the pollution occasioned by the dead bodies of the Christians, which were disinterred and removed! Among these was that of Babylas, a bishop of Antioch, who died in prison in the persecution of Decius, and after resting near a century in his grave within the walls of Antioch, had been removed by order of Callus into the midst of the grove of Daphne, where a church was built over him; the remains of the Christian saint effectually supplanting the former divinity of the place, whose temple and statue, however, though neglected, remained uninjured. The Christians of Antioch, undaunted by the conspiracy against their religion, or the presence of the emperor himself, conveyed the relics of their former bishop in triumph back to their ancient repository within the city. The immense multitude who joined in the procession, chanted forth their execrations against idols and idolaters; and on the same night the image and the temple of the Heathen god were consumed by the flames. A dreadful vengeance might be expected to have followed these scenes; but the real or affected clemency of Julian contented itself with shutting up the cathedral, and confiscating its wealth. Many Christians, indeed, suffered from the zeal of the Pagans; but, as it would appear, without the sanction of the emperor.

In 1268, Antioch was taken by Bibars, or Bondocdar, sultan of Egypt. The slaughter of seventeen thousand, and the captivity of one hundred thousand of its inhabitants, mark the final siege and fall of Antioch; which, while they close the long catalogue of its public woes, attest its extent and population. From this time it remained in a ruinous and nearly deserted condition, till, with the rest of Syria, it passed into the hands of the Ottoman Turks, with whose empire it has ever since been incorporated.

To distinguish it from other cities of the same name, the capital of Syria was called Antiochia apud Daphnem, or Antioch near Daphne, a village in the neighbourhood, where was a temple dedicated to the goddess of that name; though, in truth, the chief deity of the place was Apollo, under the fable of his amorous pursuit of the nymph Daphne; and the worship was worthy of its object. The temple stood in the midst of a grove of laurels and cypresses, where every thing was assembled which could minister to the senses; and in whose recesses the juvenile devotee wanted not the countenance of a libertine god to abandon himself to voluptuousness. Even those of riper years and graver morals could not with safety breathe the atmosphere of a place where pleasure, assuming the character of religion, roused the dormant passions, and subdued the firmness of virtuous resolution. Such being the source, the stream could scarcely be expected to be more pure; in fact, the citizens of Antioch were distinguished only for their luxury in life and licentiousness in manners. This was an unpromising soil for Christianity to take root in. But here, nevertheless, it was planted at an early period, and flourished vigorously. It should be observed, that the inhabitants of Antioch were partly Syrians, and partly Greeks; chiefly, perhaps, the latter, who were invited to the new city by Seleucus. To these Greeks, in particular, certain Cypriot and Cyrenian converts, who had fled from the persecution which followed the death of Stephen, addressed themselves; "and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord."

When the heads of the church at Jerusalem were informed of this success, they sent Barnabas to Antioch, who encouraged the new disciples, and added many to their number; and finding how great were both the field and the harvest, went to Tarsus to solicit the assistance of Paul. Both this Apostle and Barnabas then taught conjointly at Antioch; and great numbers were, by their labours during a whole year, added to the rising church,  Acts 11:19-26;  Acts 15:22-35 . Here they were also joined by Peter, who was reproved by Paul for his dissimulation, and his concession to the Jews respecting the observance of the law,  Galatians 2:11-14 .

Antioch was the birthplace of St. Luke and Theophilus, and the see of the martyr Ignatius. In this city the followers of Christ had first the name of Christians given them. We have the testimony of Chrysostom, both of the vast increase of this illustrious church in the fourth century, and of the spirit of charity which continued to actuate it. It consisted at this time of not less than a hundred thousand persons, three thousand of whom were supported out of the public donations. It is painful to trace the progress of declension in such a church as this. But the period now referred to, namely, the age of Chrysostom, toward the close of the fourth century, may be considered as the brightest of its history subsequent to the Apostolic age, and that from which the church at Antioch may date its fall. It continued, indeed, outwardly prosperous; but superstition, secular ambition, the pride of life; pomp and formality in the service of God, in place of humility and sincere devotion; the growth of faction, and the decay of charity; showed that real religion was fast disappearing, and that the foundations were laid of that great apostasy which, in two centuries from this time, overspread the whole Christian world, led to the entire extinction of the church in the east, and still holds dominion over the fairest portions of the west.

Antioch, under its modern name of Antakia, is now but little known to the western nations. It occupies, or rather did till lately occupy, a remote corner of the ancient enclosure of its walls. Its splendid buildings were reduced to hovels; and its population of half a million, to ten thousand wretched beings, living in the usual debasement and insecurity of Turkish subjects. Such was nearly its condition when visited by Pococke about the year 1738, and again by Kinneir in 1813. But its ancient subterranean enemy, which, since its destruction in 587, never long together withheld its assaults, has again triumphed over it: the earthquake of the 13th of August, 1822, laid it once more in ruins; and every thing relating to Antioch is past.

Holman Bible Dictionary [4]

1. The largest city of the Roman empire after Rome in Italy and Alexandria in Egypt. Because so many ancient cities were called by this name, it is often called Antioch on the Orontes (River) or Antioch of Syria. Antioch was founded around 300 B.C. by Seleucus Nicator. From the beginning it was a bustling maritime city with its own seaport. It lay about 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean in ancient Syria on the Orontes River nearly three hundred miles north of Jerusalem. Many Jews of the Diaspora lived in Antioch and engaged in commerce, enjoying the rights of citizenship in a free city. Many of Antioch's Gentiles were attracted to Judaism. As was the case with many of the Roman cities of the east, Antioch's patron deity was the pagan goddess Tyche or “Fortune.”

In the New Testament only Jerusalem is more closely related to the spread of early Christianity. Luke mentioned Nicholas of Antioch in  Acts 6:5 among the Greek-speaking leaders of the church in Jerusalem. The persecution that arose over Stephen resulted in Jewish believers scattering to Cyprus, Cyrene, and Antioch (  Acts 11:19 ). In Antioch the believers were first called Christians ( Acts 11:26 ), and it was to Antioch that Barnabas fetched Saul (Paul) from Tarsus so that they could teach this mixed congregation of Jewish and Gentile followers of the Lord. At Antioch the Christian prophet Agabus foretold the famine that would shortly overtake the Roman world ( Acts 11:28 ). The disciples responded with the work of famine relief for the church in Jerusalem, directed and carried out from Antioch. The church at Antioch felt the leading of the Holy Spirit to set aside Barnabas and Saul for what was the first organized mission work ( Acts 13:1-3 ). Barnabas and Saul left for Seleucia (also known as Pieria, Antioch's Mediterranean seaport) to begin their preaching. The church at Antioch heard the reports of Paul and Barnabas on return from their first missionary journey ( Acts 14:27 ) and likely their second missionary journey ( Acts 18:22 ). This was a missionary effort to both Jews and Gentiles, about which Paul says in  Galatians 2:11 that he had to oppose Peter to his face at Antioch.

Archaeological excavations at Antioch have been very fruitful, revealing a magnificent, walled Roman city of theatres, forums, a circus, and other public buildings. The language of the city was Greek, as inscriptions and public records show, but the language of the peasantry around this mighty city was Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic.

2. A city in Pisidia, Asia Minor, west of Iconium. Like the Syrian Antioch, this Antioch was founded by Seleucus Nicator. Under Roman rule, this city was called Caesarea. Paul preached in a synagogue there on his first missionary journey ( Acts 13:14 ) and was warmly received ( Acts 13:42-44 ). Jewish jealously led to a separate ministry to Gentiles ( Acts 13:46 ). Finally, Jews drove Paul and Barnabas from the city. These Jews from Antioch followed Paul to Lystra and stirred up trouble there ( Acts 14:19 ). Despite this, Paul returned to Antioch to strengthen the church ( Acts 14:21 ). Paul used the experience to teach Timothy ( 2 Timothy 3:11 ).

James F. Strange

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

1. In Syria, capital of its Greek kings, and of its Roman governors subsequently. Built where Lebanon running N. and Taurus E., meet at a bend of the river Orontes; partly on an island, partly on the level left bank. Near it was Apollo's licentious sanctuary, Daphne. Nicolas the deacon was a proselyte of Antioch. The Christians dispersed by Stephen's martyrdom preached at Antioch to idolatrous Greeks, not "Grecians" or Greekspeaking Jews, according to the Alexandrine manuscript ( Acts 11:20;  Acts 11:26), whence a church having been formed under Barnabas and Paul's care, the disciples were first called "Christians" there. From Antioch their charity was sent by the hands of Barnabas and Saul to the brethren at Jerusalem suffering in the famine.

Paul began his ministry systematically here. At Antioch Judaizers from Jerusalem disturbed the church ( Acts 15:1). Here Paul rebuked Peter for dissimulation ( Galatians 2:11-12). From Antioch Paul started on his first missionary journey ( Acts 13:1-3), and returned to it ( Acts 14:26). He began, after the Jerusalem decree, addressed to the Gentile converts at Antioch, and ended, his second missionary journey there ( Acts 15:36;  Acts 18:22-23). His third journey also began there. Ignatius was subsequently bishop there for forty years, down to his martyrdom A. D. 107.

Antioch was founded by Seleucus Nicator, and Jews were given the same political privileges as Greeks. Antiochus Epiphanes formed a great colonnaded street intersecting it from one end to the other. Pompey made it a free city. The citizens were framed for scurrility and giving nick-names. "Christian" was probably a name of their invention, and not of the disciples' origination. (See Christian .) Now called Antakia, a poor mean place; some ancient walls remain on the crags of mount Silpius. A gateway still bears the name of Paul.

2. Antioch In Pisidia: Also founded by Seleucus Nicator. Made a colony by Rome; called also Caesarea. Now Yalobatch, on a high ridge. When Paul, on his first missionary tour with Barnabas, preached in the synagogue there, many Gentiles believed. The Jews therefore raised a persecution by the wealthy women of the place, and drove him from Antioch to Iconium, and followed him even to Lystra ( Acts 13:14;  Acts 13:50-51;  Acts 14:19;  Acts 14:21). On his return from Lystra he revisited Antioch to confirm the souls of the disciples amidst their tribulations. In  2 Timothy 3:11 he refers to Timothy's acquaintance with his trials at Antioch of Pisidia; and Timothy's own home was in the neighborhood ( Acts 16:1).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

An'tioch. (From Antiochus)

1. In Syria . The capital of the Greek kings of Syria, and afterwards the residence of the Roman governors of the province which bore the same name.

Situation. This metropolis was situated where the chain of Lebanon, running northward, and the chain of Taurus, running eastward, are brought to an abrupt meeting. Here the Orontes breaks through the mountains; and Antioch was placed at a bend of the river, 16 1/2 miles from the Mediterranean, partly on an island, partly on the levee which forms the left bank, and partly on the steep and craggy ascent of Mount Silpius, which, rose abruptly on the south.

It is about 300 miles north of Jerusalem. In the immediate neighborhood was Daphne, the celebrated sanctuary of Apollo  2 Maccabees 4:33; whence the city was sometimes called Antioch By Daphne , to distinguish it from other cities of the same name.

Destruction. The city was founded in the year 300 B.C., by Seleucus Nicator. It grew under the successive Seleucid kings till it became a city of great extent and of remarkable beauty. One feature, which seems to have been characteristic of the great Syrian cities, a vast street with colonnades, intersecting the whole from end to end, was added by Antiochus Epiphanes.

By Pompey, it was made a free city, and such it continued till the time of Antoninus Pius. The early emperors raised there some large and important structures, such as aqueducts, amphitheatres and baths. (Antioch, in Paul's time, was the third city of the Roman empire, and contained over 200,000 inhabitants. Now it is a small, mean place of about 6000. - Editor).

Bible History. No city, after Jerusalem, is so intimately connected with the history of the apostolic church. Jews were settled there from the first in large numbers, were governed by their own ethnarch, and allowed to have the same political privileges with the Greeks.

The chief interest of Antioch, however, is connected with the progress of Christianity among the heathen, Here the first Gentile church was founded,  Acts 11:20-21, here the disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians.  Acts 11:26. It was from Antioch that St. Paul started on his three missionary journeys.

2. In Pisidia ,  Acts 13:14;  Acts 14:19;  Acts 14:21;  2 Timothy 3:11, on the borders of Phrygia, corresponds to Yalobatch , which is distant from Aksher six hours over the mountains. This city, like the Syrian Antioch, was founded by Seleucus Nicator. Under the Romans, it became a Colonia , and was also called Caesarea.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [7]

Antioch ( Ăn'Ti- Ŏk ), Place That Withstands (from Antiochus ). The name of two cities in New Testament times. 1. Antioch in Syria,  Acts 11:19;  Acts 11:22, founded by Seleucus Nicator, about 300 b.c., and enlarged by Antiochus Epiphanes. This city was about 300 miles north of Jerusalem, on the left bank of the river Orontes, 16½ miles from the Mediterranean, in a deep pass between the Lebanon and the Taurus ranges of mountains. At Antioch the disciples were first called Christians,  Acts 11:26; it was an important centre for the spread of the gospel,  Acts 13:1-52; from it Paul started on his missionary journeys,  Acts 15:35-36;  Acts 18:22-23; important principles of Christian faith and practice were raised and settled through the church at Antioch.  Acts 14:26-27;  Acts 15:2-30;  Galatians 2:11-14. It was made a "free" city by Pompey, was beautified by the emperors with aqueducts, baths, and public buildings; and in Paul's time it ranked third in population, wealth and commercial activity among the cities of the Roman empire. Christianity gained such strength there, that in the time of Chrysostom, who was born at Antioch, one-half of the 200,000 inhabitants of the city were Christians. The old town, which was five miles long, is now represented by a mean, shrunken-looking place of about 6000 population, called Antakieh. 2. Antioch in or near Pisidia was also founded or rebuilt by Seleucus Nicator. It was situated on a ridge—Strabo calls it a "height"—near the foot of the mountain-range, and by the northern shore of Lake Eyerdir. Paul preached there,  Acts 13:14;  Acts 14:21, and was persecuted by the people.  2 Timothy 3:11. There were at least sixteen cities of the name of Antioch in Syria and Asia Minor.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [8]

The name of two cities mentioned in the New Testament. The first was situated on the river Orontes, twenty miles from its mouth, and was the metropolis of all Syria. It was founded by Seleucus Nicator, and called by him after the name of his father Antiochus. This city is celebrated by Cicero, as being opulent and abounding in men of taste and letters. It was at one time a place of great wealth and refinement, and ranked as the third city in the Roman Empire. Its situation, amid innumerable groves and small streams, midway between Alexandria and Constantinople, rendered it a place of great beauty and salubrity, as well as commercial importance. It was also a place of great resort for the Jews, and afterwards for Christians, to all of whom invitations and encouragements were held by Seleucus Nicator. The distinctive name of "Christians" was here first applied to the followers of Jesus,  Acts 11:19,26   13:1   Galatians 2:11 . Antioch was highly favored by Vespasian and Titus, and became celebrated for luxury and vice. Few cities have suffered greater disasters. Many times it has been nearly ruined by earthquakes, one of which, in 1822, destroyed one-fourth of its population, then about twenty thousand. It is now called Antakia.

The other city, also found by Seleucus Nicator, was called Antioch of Pisidia, because it was attached to that province, although situated in Phrygia,  Acts 13:14   14:19,21   2 Timothy 3:11 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

  • In the extreme north of Pisidia; was visited by Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey ( Acts 13:14 ). Here they found a synagogue and many proselytes. They met with great success in preaching the gospel, but the Jews stirred up a violent opposition against them, and they were obliged to leave the place. On his return, Paul again visited Antioch for the purpose of confirming the disciples ( Acts 14:21 ). It has been identified with the modern Yalobatch, lying to the east of Ephesus.

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Antioch'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/ebd/a/antioch.html. 1897.

  • Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

    An´tioch. Two places of this name are mentioned in the New Testament.

    Antioch, 1

    A city on the banks of the Orontes, 300 miles north of Jerusalem, and about 30 from the Mediterranean. It was situated in the province of Seleucis, called Tetrapolis. It was the metropolis of Syria, the residence of the Syrian kings, and afterwards became the capital of the Roman provinces in Asia. It ranked third, after Rome and Alexandria, among the cities of the empire, and was little inferior in size and splendor to the latter. Its suburb Daphne was celebrated for its grove and fountains, its asylum and temple were dedicated to Apollo and Diana. It was very populous; within 150 years after its erection the Jews slew 100,000 persons in it in one day. In the time of Chrysostom the population was computed at 200,000, of whom one-half, or even a greater proportion, were professors of Christianity. Cicero speaks of the city as distinguished by men of learning and the cultivation of the arts. A multitude of Jews resided in it. Seleucus Nicator granted them the rights of citizenship, and placed them on a perfect equality with the other inhabitants. These privileges were continued to them by Vespasian and Titus. Antioch is called libera by Pliny, having obtained from Pompey the privilege of being governed by its own laws.

    References