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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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(Ἰκόνιον, now Konia or Konyeh)

This city, which was partly evangelized by St. Paul, occupied one of the most beautiful and fertile inland sites of Asia Minor, compared by T. Lewin (The Life and Epistles of St. Paul3, 1875, i. 144f.) to the oasis of Damascus. Lying in a crescent of Phrygian hills at the western limit of the vast upland plain of Lycaonia, and watered by perennial streams which, through irrigation, make it to-day a garden-city, it must have been a place of importance from the earliest times. Xenophon, the first writer who mentions it (Anab. i. ii. 19), says that Cyrus, travelling eastward, came ‘to Iconium, the last city of Phrygia; thence he pursued his route through Lycaonia.’ The inhabitants always regarded themselves as of Phrygian, not of Lycaonian, extraction, and the strongest evidence that they were right was their use of the Phrygian language. On the other hand, many writers-Cicero (ad Fam. xv. iv. 2), Strabo (xii, vi. 1 [p. 568]), Pliny (Historia Naturalis (Pliny) v. 25), and others-having regard to the later history of Iconium, invariably designate it as a city of Lycaonia (q.v. [Note: quod vide, which see.] ). During the 3rd cent. b.c. it was ruled and, to a great extent, hellenized by the Seleucids. After the battle of Magnesia (187 b.c.), it was presented by the Romans to the king of Pergamos; but as he never took effective possession of it, the Galatians appropriated it about 165 b.c. Mark Antony, the ‘king-maker,’ gave it to Polemon in 39 b.c. and transferred it in 36 to Amyntas, king of Galatia, whoso wide dominions, after his death in 25 b.c., were formed into the Roman province Galatia. Under Claudius the city was honoured with the name of Claud-Iconium, a proof of its strong Roman sympathies, but it was not raised to the rank of a Colonia till the reign of Hadrian. It remained a city of the province Galatia till a.d. 295, when Diocletian formed the province Pisidia, with Antioch as its capital and Iconium as its ‘second metropolis.’ In 372 Iconium became the capital of the new province Lycaonia, an arrangement which held good all through the Byzantine period.

When St. Luke relates that the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, being persecuted at Iconium, ‘fled into the cities of Lycaonia’ (Acts 14:6)-an expression which implies that in his view Iconium was not Lycaonian-he adheres to the popular and ignores the official geography. So central and prosperous a city, traversed by a trade-route leading direct to the Cilician Gates, and connected by a cross-road with the great high-way to the Euphrates, naturally attracted many traders and settlers from the outside world. Well-chosen as a sphere of missionary activity, the first attempt to preach the gospel in it proved very successful, and though the enmity of the Jews compelled the apostles to desist from their efforts for a time, St. Luke speaks of the faith of ‘a great multitude both of Jews and of Greeks’ (Acts 14:1).

Iconium figures largely in the Galatian controversy. What is certain is that St. Paul and Barnabas preached and made many converts in the city during their first missionary campaign, and that they re-visited it on their homeward journey, ‘confirming the souls of the disciples’ (Acts 14:1; Acts 14:22). The persecutions which St. Paul endured there are alluded to in 2 Timothy 3:11. On the South-Galatian theory, he paid the city two more visits, if, as Ramsay and others assume, Iconium is included in ‘the region of Phrygia and Galatia’ (Acts 16:6) and in ‘the region of Galatia and Phrygia’ (Acts 18:23). In the interval between the Apostle’s last two visits, he received the alarming tidings that his Galatian churches-which, on this hypothesis, were Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe-were being perverted by Judaizers, whoso fatal errors his Epistle to the Galatians was immediately written to confute. Some indication that his vehement letter and his final visit accomplished his purpose is afforded by the fact that the Galatian Church contributed part of the Gentile love-offering to the poor saints in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1). On the North-Galatian theory St. Paul, using ‘Galatians’ in the popular, not the Roman, sense, wrote to churches which he had founded in Galatia proper, which Livy calls Gallo-Graecia (see Galatia).

It is a mere legend that Sosipater (Romans 16:21) was the first and Terentius or Tertius (Romans 16:22) the second bishop of Iconium. The city is the principal scene of the Acta Pauli et Theclae, which date back to the 2nd cent. and have a foundation in fact (see W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Rom, Emp., 1893, p. 375ff.). The Council of Iconium was held in 235. When the city became the capital of the Seljuk State, which was founded about 1072, its splendour gave rise to the proverb, ‘See all the world; but see Konia.’ To-day it has a population of 50,000.

Literature.-W. M. Leake, Asia Minor, 1824; W. J. Hamilton, Researches in Asia Minor, 1842; Murray’s Guide to Asia Minor, ed. C. Wilson, 1895, p. 133f.; W. M. Ramsay, The Cities of St. Paul, 1907, pp. 315-382.

James Strahan.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Iconium'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​i/iconium.html. 1906-1918.
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