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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Phrygia

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PHRYGIA . The Phrygians were an Aryan race who seem to have had their first home in Thrace, and to have crossed into Asia through the same southward movement of tribes that brought the Hellenes into Greece. In Asia they occupied at one time the greater part of the country W. of the Halys, probably displacing a Semitic race from whom they may have learned the worship of Cybele. We must regard Homer’s Trojans as part of the Phrygian race, and the Trojan War as a contest between them and Greek settlers from Thessaly. In more historical times the name Phrygia applies to an inland region varying in extent at different times, but bounded at its widest by the Sangarius on the N., the Halys on the E., the Taurus range on the S. It thus covered the W. part of the great plateau of Asia Minor and the upper valleys of the rivers Mæander and Hermus. It was a region fruitful in oil and wine, exporting also wool, gold, marble, and salt.

When the Romans inherited the kingdom of Pergamus in b.c. 133, a part of Phrygia was included in the province of Asia, but the southern portion towards Pamphylla was not included. This portion was in the hands of the dependent king of Galatia when Augustus constituted Galatia a province in b.c. 25, and was therefore included in the new province which extended from Lycia on the S.W. almost to the mouth of the Halys on the N.E. Hence this portion of Phrygia, with its cities of Antioch and Iconium, came to be known as Phrygia Galatica.

This country was included by St. Paul in the work of his first missionary journey (Acts 13:14 to Acts 14:24 ). From Perga he and Barnabas made their way N. along the difficult mountain road to Antioch, here called ‘Pisidian Antioch’ (see Pisidia). On his second missionary journey St. Paul (now accompanied by Silas) began with the churches of Cilicia and then passed through Derbe and Lystra, where he took Timothy into his company. The narrative then proceeds ( Acts 16:6 ): ‘And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia [Gr. ‘the Phrygian and Galatian region’], having been forbidden [AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘and were forbidden’] of the Holy Ghost to speak the word in Asia; and when they were come over against Mysia they assayed to go into Bithynia; and the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not; and passing by Mysia they came down to Troas.’ The natural interpretation of this is that from Lystra they traversed Phrygia Galatica , from Antioch took the road leading N. to Dorylaion, where they would be near Bithynia, and from there were directed W. to Troas. Attempts have been made, however, to find here an evangelization of Galatia proper with its towns of Pessinus and Ancyra. But against this we must set (1) the form of the Greek phrase ‘the Phrygian and Galatian region’; (2) the strange silence of St. Luke about a work that must have taken a considerable time; (3) the geographical consideration that the travellers could not have crossed the desert of the Axylon straight from S. to N. and must in any case have used the road to Dorylaion. See, further, artt. Galatia and Galatians [Ep. To] for this and the further question whether the Epistle to the Galatians can have been written to the churches of Phrygia Galatica. If it was, we have an interesting glimpse of how in the churches first founded by St. Paul his authority was very soon (perhaps a.d. 50) assailed by Judaizers, who disputed his Apostolic credentials and declared his doctrine to be an imperfect form of Christianity, neglecting its Jewish basis.

The third missionary journey likewise began with ‘the region of Galatia and Phrygia’ (Acts 18:23 ), or ‘the Galatian region and Phrygia.’ Here the reference is probably to the same churches, but the order of words is doubtless meant to include the churches of Lycaonia first these were in the province of Galatia, but were not in Phrygia. The order is in any case strongly against the inclusion of Galatia proper. The journey was continued ‘through the upper country to Ephesus,’ i.e. along the direct route which passed through the higher country from Metropolis to Ephesus, instead of the high road which followed the valley of the Lycus.

A. E. Hillard.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Phrygia'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/p/phrygia.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
the Sixth Week after Epiphany
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