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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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PAMPHYLIA. The name of a district on the S. coast of Asia Minor, lying between Lycia and Cilicia. Strictly speaking, it consisted of a plain 80 miles long and (at its widest part) 20 miles broad, lying between Mt. Taurus and the sea. After a.d. 74 the name was applied to a Roman province which included the mountainous country to the N., more properly called Pisidia, but until that time it was used only in the narrower sense. The plain was shut in from all N. winds, but was well watered by springs from the Taurus ranges. Through lack of cultivation it has in modern times become very malarious, and in ancient times, though better cultivated, the district was never favourable to the development of a vigorous population. Moreover, it was very isolated except by sea, for the mountains to the N. had no good roads, and were infested by brigands. Even Alexander had to fight his way through them.

The name is probably derived from the Pamphyli , one of the three Dorian tribes, and it is likely that Dorian settlers entered Pamphylia at the time of the other Dorian migrations. But the Greek element never prevailed, and though Side and Aspendos were half-Greek cities in the 5th cent. b.c., the Greek that they spoke was very corrupt and was written in a corrupt alphabet. Side is said to have earned its prosperity as the market of Cilician pirates. The town of Attalia was founded in the 2nd century. But more important was the native town of Perga, situated inland and having apparently a port of its own on the river Cestrus at a distance of 5 miles. It was a religious centre., where a goddess ‘Artemis of Perga’ was worshipped, her rites corresponding to those associated with Diana of the Ephesians, and being therefore more Asiatic than Greek. The ruins of the city date from the period of the Seleucid kings of Syria. Pamphylia was in turn subject to Persia, Macedonia, Syria, Pergamus, and Rome.

Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey crossed from Cyprus to Perga, but seem to have gone straight on to Antioch without preaching. It was at Perga that John Mark left them (Acts 13:13 ). On the return journey, before taking ship at Attalia, they preached at Perga ( Acts 14:25 ), but by this time they had definitely determined to ‘turn to the Gentiles’ (cf. Acts 13:46 ). Christianity was slow in taking hold of Pamphylia, there is no mention of it in 1 Peter 1:1 and this was probably due partly to the absence of Jewish centres, partly to the backwardness of the district. Christianity made way most quickly in the chief centres of thought. See Perga.

A. E. Hillard.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Pamphylia'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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