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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Cappadocia was an elevated table-land, with ill-defined and varying boundaries, in the east centre of Asia Minor. It was drained chiefly by the Halys and its tributaries, and intersected by great mountains, the highest of which, Argaeus, is 13,000 feet above the sea. ‘Persons who ascend it (but they are not many) say that both the Euxine and the Sea of Issus may be seen from it in clear weather’ (Strabo, xii. ii. 7). Cappadocia was traversed by the great road of commerce from Ephesus to the Euphrates, by the pilgrims’ route from Constantinople to Jerusalem, and by roads from the Cilician Gates to the cities of the Euxine. It was an excellent country for corn and pasturage, and it had some important centres of commerce. Jews had found their way into the country before the Maccabaean period, and in 139 b.c. the Roman a Senate sent a letter to Ariarathes, King of Cappadocia, directing him ‘not to seek their hurt’ (1 Maccabees 15:19; 1 Maccabees 15:22). Philo (Leg. ad Gaium, 36) also refers to Jews in Cappadocia. On the death of King Archelaus in a.d. 17, the country was formed into a Roman province (Tacitus, Ann. ii. 42). It was administered by a procurator until the time of Vespasian, who joined it to Armenia and placed it under a legatus.

Jews of Cappadocia were sojourning in Jerusalem at the time of the first Christian Pentecost (Acts 2:9). The elect of the Dispersion in the province of Cappadocia are addressed in 1 Peter 1:1. Pagan Cappadocia was devoted chiefly to the cult of Ma, and the strength of its anti-Christian forces is indicated in Strabo’s description of two leading cities, Comana and Morimene.

The priest of Comana ‘presides over the temple, and has authority over the hierodouli belonging to it, who, at, the time I was there, exceeded in number 6000 persons, including men and women. A large tract of land adjoins the temple, the revenue of which the priest enjoys. He is second in rank in Cappadocia after the king, and in general the priests are descended from the same family as the kings’ (xii. ii. 3). ‘In Morimene, among the Venasii, is a temple of Jupiter, with buildings capable of receiving nearly 3000 hierodouli. It has a tract of sacred land attached to it.… The priest is appointed for life like the priest of Comana, and is next to him in rank’ (xii. ii. 7).

Yet Christianity made rapid progress in Cappadocia, and its triumph in Caesarea, the capital, so offended Julian the Apostate that he deprived the city of its freedom. Some of the other cities of Cappadocia-Nyssa, Nazianzus, Tyana, Samosata-are celebrated in Church history.

Literature.-W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, London, 1893, p. 445ff; Th. Mommsen, Provinces of the Rom. Empire2, Eng. translation , do. 1909, i. 323f., 332f., ii. 19, 41, 63; E. Chantre, Mission en Cappadocie, Paris, 1898; G. Long, in DGRG [Note: GRG Dict. of Greek and Roman Geography.] , i. 506ff.; article ‘Cappadocia’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols) and Encyclopaedia Biblica .

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Cappadocia'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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