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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Pamphylia

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(Παμφυλία)

Pamphylia was the ancient name of a flat and low-lying country in the south of Asia Minor, 80 miles long from E. to W., and 20 miles broad in its widest part, skirted by the Bay of Adalia, and enclosed by a rough semicircle of lofty and precipitous mountains of the Taurus range. As no pass corresponding to the Cilician Gates afforded freedom of access to the interior, Pamphylia was always isolated. Its chief maritime cities-Attalia, Perga and Side-had to deal only with a limited traffic, and never rose to any great importance. Its climate, too, greatly interfered with its progress. The hot, moist, enervating plain, rarely swept by bracing northern winds, was unsuitable for a race of hardy colonists, and though many Greeks and some Jews (1 Maccabees 15:23, Acts 2:10) settled in its towns, the native Anatolian elements were too strong for an exotic Hellenism, so that Pamphylia as a whole remained one of the least civilized parts of Asia Minor. It was therefore late in attaining the dignity of Roman provincial government. Dio Cassius (lx. 17) indicates that Claudius instituted the province of Lycia-Pamphylia in a.d. 43, but Mommsen has proved by means of a recently discovered inscription ‘that Pamphylia was a distinct procuratorial province for some time later, then was connected with Galatia for a short time, and at last was united to Lycia by Vespasian’ (W. M. Ramsay, Pauline and other Studies, 1906, p. 265).

Paul and Barnabas crossed Pamphylia in both the outward and the homeward part of their first missionary tour. Landing at the river-harbour of Perga, they merely ‘passed through from’ the city (Acts 13:14), hastening northward over the Taurus to Antioch in Pisidia. Combining St. Luke’s narrative with Galatians 4:13, Ramsay infers that, while the original intention of the apostles was to carry on a prolonged mission in Pamphylia, which seemed, after Cilicia, to have the next claim to the gospel, a sudden illness-probably malarial fever-prostrated St. Paul and compelled them to change their plan and seek the cooler and more invigorating uplands of central Asia Minor (St. Paul the Traveller, p. 93, The Church in the Roman Empire, 1893, p. 61 ff.). A. C. McGiffert agrees that malarial fever was probably the ‘infirmity of the flesh’ which led St. Paul to preach to the Galatians, but regards it as more likely that the illness, though contracted in the Pamphylian plain, did not show itself until St. Paul was labouring in Antioch (Apostolic Age, 1897, p. 177). About two years later the return journey was made by Perga and Attalia (Acts 14:25), and on this occasion the gospel was preached in the former city, but apparently little impression was made. Christianity, which always had the best chance of success where Hellenism and Judaism had already prepared the soil, was late in taking root in backward and uncivilized Pamphylia. The provinces named in 1 Peter 1:1 as having Christian converts within their borders sum up the whole of Asia Minor north of the Taurus, but Pamphylia and Lycia are conspicuous by their absence. Had these lands contained any considerable body of ‘the elect,’ the fact that they were regarded as ‘without (i.e. to the south of) the Taurus’ would not have prevented them from being enumerated with the other provinces.

Literature.-W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller, London, 1895, p. 89 f.; K. Lanckoronski, Städte Pamphyliens und Pisidiens, vol. i.: ‘Pamphylien,’ Vienna, 1890.

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Pamphylia'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdn/p/pamphylia.html. 1906-1918.

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