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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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ANTIOCH (Syrian). By the issue of the battle of Ipsus, Seleucus Nikator (b.c. 312 280) 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. Possessed with a mama for building cities and calling them after himself or his relatives, he founded no fewer than 37, of which 4 are mentioned in the NT (1) Antioch of Syria ( Acts 11:19 ), (2) Seleucia ( Acts 13:4 ), (3) Antioch of Pisidia ( Acts 13:14 ; Acts 14:21 , 2 Timothy 3:11 ), and (4) Laodicea ( Colossians 4:13-16 , Revelation 1:11 ; Revelation 3:14 ). The most famous of the 16 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 the Euphrates valley to a locality nearer the Mediterranean. The new city lay in the deep bend of the Levant, about 300 miles N. of Jerusalem. Though 14 miles from the sea, the navigable river Orontes, on whose left bank it was built, united it with Seleucia 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 W., 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 18 wards, and each commune attended to its own municipal affairs.

His successor, Antiochus I., Soter (b.c. 280 261), 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 Chaldæan priest, has been rescued from oblivion.

The succession of wars which now broke out between the Seleucidæ and the Ptolemys is described in Daniel 11:1-45 . The fortunes of the war varied greatly. Under the next king but one, Seleucus II., Kallinikus (b.c. 246 226), 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, Kallinikus devoted himself to the embellishment of his royal city. As founded by S. Nikator, Antioch had consisted of a single quarter. Antiochus I., Soter , had added a second, but Kallinikus 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 ft., in some places cut to the depth of 120 ft., while the portions excavated as tunnels (usually 24 ft. high) amount in all to 395 ft.

With Antiochus III., the Great (b.c. 223 187), the fortunes of the city revived. He drove out the Egyptian garrison from Seleucia, ended the Ptolemaic sovereignty over Judæa, 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 (b.c. 190). After the assassination of his son Seleucus IV., Philopator (b.c. 187 175), who was occupied mostly in repairing the financial losses his kingdom had sustained, the brilliant but wholly unprincipled youth Antiochus IV. Epiphanes (b.c. 175 164), succeeded to the throne. With the buffoonery of a Caligula and the vice of a Nero, he united the genius for architecture and Greek culture which he inherited from his race. In his dreams Antioch was to be a metropolls, 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 Mt. 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 corso with double colonnades, which ran for 5 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 Nymphæum 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 Mt. Silpius into one vast statue of Charon, the infernal ferryman. It frowned over the city, and was named the Charonium. Epiphanes’ policy of Hellenizing Palestine evoked the determined opposition of the Maccabees, and in the wars which ensued his forces suffered many defeats, though the injuries and atrocities he committed in Jerusalem were unspeakable. With Antiochus Epiphanes died the grandeur of the Syrian throne.

Succeeding princes 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 Seleucidæ, 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 Hasmonæan princes increased. In b.c. 83 all Syria passed into the hands of Tigranes, king of Armenia, who remained master of Antioch for 14 years. When Tigranes was overwhelmed by the Romans, Pompey put an end to the Seleucid dynasty, and the line of Antiochene monarchs expired in b.c. 65. 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 Cæsar built a splendid basilica, the Cæsareum , 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 ft., with a thickness at the top of 8 ft., 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, 7 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 æstheticism, and Oriental luxury could produce. The ancient writers, however, are unanimous in describing the city as one of the foulest and most depraved in the world. Cosmopolitan in disposition, the citizens acted as if they were emancipated from every law, human or Divine. 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 for all that was wicked. Their brilliance and energy, so praised by Cicero, were balanced by an incurable levity and shameless disregard for the first 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 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 into 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, however, of one Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch (Acts 6:5 ), and there may have been more. But after the death of St. Stephen, Christian fugitives from persecution fled as far north as Antioch, began to preach to the Greeks there ( Acts 11:19 ), and a great number believed. So great was the work that the Jerus. Church sent Barnabas to assist, who, finding that more help was needed, sought out and fetched 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’ ( Acts 11:26 ), and (2) of foreign missions. From this city Paul and Barnabas started on their first missionary journey ( Acts 13:1-4 ), and to Antioch they returned at the end of the tour ( Acts 14:26 ). The second journey was begun from and ended at Antioch ( Acts 15:35-41 ; Acts 18:22 ); and the city was again the starting-point of the third tour ( Acts 18:23 ). The Antiochene Church contributed liberally to the poor saints in Jerus. during the famine ( Acts 11:27-30 ). Here also the dispute regarding the circumcision of Gentile converts broke out ( Acts 15:1-22 ), and here Paul withstood Peter for his inconsistency ( Galatians 2:11-21 ). After the fall of Jerusalem, Antioch became the true centre of Christianity. A gate still bears the name of ‘St. Paul’s Gate.’ It was from Antioch that Ignatius set out on his march to martyrdom at Rome. The city claimed as its natives John Chrysostom, Ammianus Marcellinus, Evagrius, and Libanius. From a.d. 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 a.d. 260 by Sapor of Persia; in a.d. 538 it was burned by Chosroes; rebuilt by Justinian, it again fell before the Saracens in a.d. 635. Nicephorus Phocas recovered it in a.d. 969, but in a.d. 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 b.c. 184, a.d. 37, 115, 457, and esp. 526 (when 200,000 persons perished), 528, 1170, and 1872 have been the most disastrous. The once vast city has shrunk into a small, ignoble, and dirty town of 6,000 inhabitants, still, however, hearing the name of Antaki (Turkish) or Antakiyah (Arabic). It is again the centre of a Christian mission, and the Church of Antioch, as of old, is seeking to enlighten the surrounding darkness.

G. A. Frank Knight.

ANTIOCH (Pisidian). The expression ‘Antioch of Pisidia’ or ‘Antioch in Pisidia’ is incorrect, 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 four times ( Acts 13:14 ; Acts 14:21 ; Acts 16:6 ; Acts 18:22 ), and it is one of the churches addressed in the Epistle to the Galatians.

A. Souter.

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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

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