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Antioch (See also wiki article Antioch,_Syria.)

ANTIOCH (Syria) - By his victory in the battle of Ipsus (301 BC), Seleucus Nicator (312-280 BC) secured the rule over most of Alexander the Great's Asiatic empire, which stretched from the Hellespont and the Mediterranean on the one side to the Jaxartes and Indus on the other. The Seleucid dynasty, which he founded, lasted for 247 years. He founded no fewer than thirty-seven cities, of which four are mentioned in the NT -
(1) Antioch of Syria (Ac.11.19),
(2) Seleucia (Ac.13.4), i.e. Seleucia Pieria.
(3) Antioch of Pisidia (Ac.13.14, 14.21, 2 Ti.3.11),
and
(4) Laodicea (Col.4.13-16, Rev.1.11, 3.14).
The most famous of the sixteen Antiochs, which he built and named after his father Antiochus, was Antioch on the Orontes in Syria. The spot was carefully chosen, and religious sanction given to it by the invention of a story that sacred birds had revealed the site while he watched their flight from a neighbouring eminence. It was politically of advantage that the seat of empire should be removed from Seleucia, near the present Baghdad, to a locality nearer the Mediterranean. The new city lay in the deep bend of the Levant, about 300 miles N. of Jerusalem. Though fourteen miles from the sea, the navigable river Orontes, on whose left bank it was built, united it with Seleucia Pieria and its splendid harbour. Connected thus by the main caravan roads with the commerce of Babylon, Persia, and India, and with a seaport keeping it in touch with the great world to the west, Antioch speedily fell heir to that vast trade which had once been the monopoly of Tyre. Its seaport Seleucia was a great fortress, like Gibraltar or Sebastopol. Seleucus attracted to his new capital thousands of Jews, by offering them equal rights of citizenship with all the other inhabitants. The citizens were divided into eighteen wards, and each commune attended to its own municipal affairs.

His successor, Antiochus I, Soter (280-261 BC), introduced an abundant water supply into the city, so that every private house had its own pipe, and every public spot its graceful fountain. He further strove to render Antioch the intellectual rival of Alexandria, by inviting to his court scholars such as Aratus the astronomer, and by superintending the translation into Greek of learned works in foreign tongues. In this way the invaluable history of Babylon by Berosus, the Chaldaean priest was preserved for posterity.

The succession of wars which now broke out between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies is described in Dn 11. The fortunes of the war varied greatly. Under the next king but one, Seleucus II, Callinicus (246-225 BC), Ptolemy Euergetes captured Seleucia, installed an Egyptian garrison in it, and harried the Seleucid empire as far as Susiana and Bactria, carrying off to Egypt an immense spoil. Worsted on the field, Callinicus devoted himself to the embellishment of his royal city. As founded by Seleucus Nicator, Antioch had consisted of a single quarter. Antiochus I, Soter, had added a second, but Callinicus now included a third, by annexing to the city the island in the river and connecting it to the mainland by five bridges. In this new area the streets were all at right angles, and at the intersection of the two principal roads the way was spanned by a tetrapylon, a covered colonnade with four gates. The city was further adorned with costly temples, porticoes, and statues. But the most remarkable engineering feat begun in this reign was the excavation of the great dock at Seleucia, the building of the protecting moles, and the cutting of a canal inland through high masses of solid rock. The canal is successively a cutting and a tunnel, the parts open to the sky aggregating in all 1869 feet, in some places cut to the depth of 120 feet, while the portions excavated as tunnels (usually 24 feet high) amount in all to 395 feet.

With Antiochus III, the Great (223-187 BC), the fortunes of the city revived. He drove out the Egyptian garrison from Seleucia, ended the Ptolemaic sovereignty over Judaea, reduced all Palestine and nearly all Asia Minor to his sway, until his might was finally shattered by the Romans in the irretrievable defeat of Magnesia (190 BC). After the assassination of his son Seleucus iv, Philopator (187-175 BC), who was occupied mostly in repairing tlie financial losses his kingdom had sustained, Antiochus iv, Epiphanes (175-163 BC), succeeded to the throne. He promoted both Greek architecture and Greek culture. In his dreams Antioch was to be a metropolis second to none for beauty, and Greek art and Greek religion were to be the uniform rule throughout all his dominions. To the three quarters already existing he added a fourth, which earned for Antioch the title 'Tetrapolis.' Here he erected a Senate House, a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus on one of the eminences of Mount Silpius, and a strong citadel on another spur of the mountains that surround the city. From E to W of Antioch he laid out a splendid street with double colonnades, which ran for five miles in a straight line. In wet weather the populace could walk from end to end under cover. Trees, flowers, and fountains adorned the promenade; and poets sang of the beauty of the statue of Apollo and of the Nymphaeum which he erected near the river. To avert the anger of the gods during a season of pestilence, he ordered the sculptor Leios to hew Mount Silpius into one vast statue of Charon, the ferryman of Hades. It frowned over the city, and was named the Charonium. Epiphanes' policy of Hellenizing Judaea evoked the determined opposition of the Maccabees (q.v.). Succeeding rulers exercised only a very moderate influence over the fortunes of Palestine, and the palmy days of Antioch as a centre of political power were gone for ever.

The city was the scene of many a bloody conflict in the years of the later Seleucids, as usurper after usurper tried to wade through blood to the throne, and was shortly after overcome by some rival. In several of these struggles the Jews took part, and as the power of Antioch waned, the strength and practical independence of the Jewish Hasmonaean princes increased. In 83 BC all Syria passed into the hands of Tigranes, king of Armenia, who remained master of Antioch for fourteen years. When Tigranes was overwhelmed by the Romans, Pompey put an end to the Seleucid dynasty, and the line of Antiochene monarchs expired in 64 BC. The strong Pax Romana gave new vigour to the city. Antioch was made a free city, and became the seat of the prefect and the capital of the Roman province of Syria. Mark Antony ordered the release of all the Jews in it enslaved during the recent disturbances, and the restoration of their property. As a reward for Antioch's fidelity to him, Julius Caesar built a splendid basilica, the Caesareum, and gave, besides, a new aqueduct, theatre, and public baths. Augustus, Agrippa, Herod the Great, Tiberius, and, later, Antoninus Pius, all greatly embellished the city, contributing many new and striking architectural features. The ancient walls were rebuilt to the height of 50-60 feet, with a thickness at the top of 8 feet, and surmounted by gigantic towers. The vast rampart was carried across ravines up the mountain slope to the very summit of the hills which overlook the city. Antioch seemed thus to be defended by a mountainous bulwark, seven miles in circuit. Earthquakes have in later ages demolished these walls, though some of the Roman castles are still standing.

When Christianity reached Antioch, it was a great city of over 500,000 inhabitants, called the 'Queen of the East,' the 'Third Metropolis of the Roman Empire.' In 'Antioch the Beautiful' there was to be found everything which Italian wealth, Greek aestheticism, and Oriental luxury could produce. The ancient writers, however, are unanimous in describing the cosmopolitan city as one of the most depraved in the world. Licentiousness, superstition, quackery, indecency, every fierce and base passion, were displayed by the populace; their skill in coining scurrilous verses was notorious, their sordid, fickle, turbulent, and insolent ways rendered the name of Antioch a byword. Their brilliance and energy, so praised by Cicero, were balanced by an incurable levity and shameless disregard for the principles of morality. So infamous was the grove of Daphne, five miles out of the city, filled with shrines to Apollo, Venus, Isis, etc., and crowded with theatres, baths, taverns, and dancing saloons, that soldiers detected there were punished and dismissed from the Imperial service. 'Daphnic morals' became a proverb. Juvenal could find no more forcible way of describing the pollutions of Rome than by saying, 'The Orontes has flowed in the Tiber.' In this Vanity Fair the Jews were resident in large numbers, yet they exerted little or no influence on the morals of the city. We hear in the NT of one Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch (Ac.6.5). But after the death of St. Stephen, Christian fugitives from persecution fled as far north as Antioch, began to preach to the Greeks there (Ac.11.19), and a great number believed. So great was the work that Jerusalem Church sent Barnabas to assist, who, finding that more help was needed, sought out and brought Saul from Tarsus. There they continued a year, and built up a strong Church. Antioch had the honour of being the birthplace of (1) the name 'Christian' (Ac.11.26), and (2) of foreign missions. From the city Paul and Barnabas started on their first missionary journey (Ac.13.1-4), and to Antioch they returned at the end of the tour (Ac.14.26). The second journey was begun from and ended at Antioch (Ac.15.25-41, 18.22); and the city was again the starting-point of the third tour (Ac.18.23). The Antiochene Church contributed liberally to the poor saints in Jerusalem, during the famine (Ac.11.27-30). Here also the dispute regarding the circumcision of Gentile converts broke out (Ac.15.1-22), and here Paul withstood Peter for his inconsistency (Gal.2.11-21). A gate still bears the name of 'St. Paul's Gate.' It was from Antioch that Ignatius set out on his journey to martyrdom at Rome. The city claimed as its natives John Chrysostom, Ammianus Marcellinus, Evagrius, and Libanius. From AD 252-380 Antioch was the scene of ten Church Councils. The Patriarch of Antioch took precedence of those of Rome, Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria. Antioch was captured in AD 260 by Shapur of Persia; in AD 538 it was burned by Chosroes; rebuilt by Justinian, it again fell before the Saracens in AD 635. Nicephorus Phocas recovered it in AD 969, but in AD 1084 it fell to the Seljuk Turks. The first Crusaders retook it in 1098 after a celebrated siege, signalized by the 'invention of the Holy Lance'; but in 1268 it passed finally into the hands of the Turks. Earthquakes have added to the ruining hand of man. Those of 184 BC, AD 37, 115, 457, and especially 526 (when 200,000 persons perished), 528, 1170, and 1872 have been the most disastrous. The once vast city still bears the name of Antaki (Turkish) or Antakiyah (Arabic). Its inhabitants have increased to nearly 40,000 in recent years. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963. - G.A.F.K.?E.G.K.]


ANTIOCH (Pisidian) - The expression 'Antioch of Pisidia' or 'Antioch in Pisidia' is inexact as the town was not in Pisidia. Its official title was 'Antioch near Pisidia,' and as it existed for the sake of Pisidia, the adjective 'Pisidian' was sometimes loosely attached to it. It was actually in the ethnic district of Phrygia, and in the Roman province of Galatia (that region of it called Phrygia Galatica). Founded by the inhabitants of Magnesia, it was made a free town by the Romans, and a colonia was established there by the emperor Augustus to keep the barbarians of the neighbourhood in check. The municipal government became Roman and the official language Latin. St. Paul visited it at least three times (Ac.13.14, 14.21, 16.6), and it is one of the churches addressed in the Epistle to the Galatians. [Article: Dictionary of the Bible, J.Hastings, 2nd Ed., T&T.Clark, 1963. - A.So.]