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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Iconium

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(Ι᾿κόνιον , of unknown derivation), a town, formerly the capital of Lycaonia (according to Ptol. 5, 6,16; but Phrygia according to Strabo, 12, 568; Xenoph. Anab. 1, 2, 19; Pliny, 5, 25; and even Pisidia according to Ammian. Marcel. 14, 2), as it is now, by the name of Koniyeh, of Karamania, in Asia Minor. It is situated in N. lat. 37° 51, E. long. 320 40', about 120 miles inland from the Mediterranean. It was on the great line of communication between Ephesus and the western coast of the peninsula on one side, and Tarsus, Antioch, and the Euphrates on the other. We see this indicated by the narrative of Xenophon (i.e.) and the letters of Cicero (ad Famz. 3, 8; 5, 20; 15:4). When the Roman provincial system was matured, some of the most important roads intersected one another at this point, as may be seen from the map in Leake's Asia Minor. These circumstances should be borne in mind when we trace Paul's journeys through the district. Iconium was a well-chosen place for missionary operations. The apostle's first visit was on his first circuit, in company with Barnabas; and on this occasion he approached it from Antioch in Pisidia, which lay to the west. A.D. 44. From that city he had been driven by the persecution of the Jews (Acts 13:50-51).

There were Jews in Iconium also; and Paul's first efforts here, according to his custom, were made in the synagogue (14:1). The results were considerable both among the Hebrew and Gentile population of the place (ibid.). We should notice that the working of miracles in Iconium is emphatically mentioned (Acts 14:3). The intrigues of the Jews again drove him away; he was in danger of being stoned, and he withdrew to Lystra and Derbe, in the eastern and wilder part of Lycaonia (Acts 14:6). Thither also the enmity of the Jews of Antioch and Iconium pursued him; and at Lystra he was actually stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19). After an interval, however, he returned over the old ground, revisiting Iconium, and encouraging the Church which he had founded there (Acts 14:21-22). A.D. 47. These sufferings and difficulties are alluded to in 2 Timothy 3:11; and this brings us to the consideration of his next visit to this neighborhood, which was the occasion of his first practically associating himself with Timothy. Paul left the Syrian Antioch, in company with Silas (Acts 15:40), on his second missionary circuit; and, traveling through Cilicia (Acts 15:41), and up through the passes of Taurus into Lycaonia, approached Iconium from the east, by Derbe and Lystra (Acts 16:1-2). Though apparently a native of Lystra, Timothy was evidently well known to the Christians of Iconium (Acts 16:2); and it is not improbable that his circumcision (Acts 16:3) and ordination (1 Timothy 1:18; 1 Timothy 4:14; 1 Timothy 6:12 : 2 Timothy 1:6) took place there. On leaving Iconium, Paul and his party traveled to the northwest; and the place is not mentioned again in the sacred narrative, though there is little doubt that it was visited by the apostle again in the early part of his third circuit (Acts 18:23). From its position it could not fail to be an important center of Christian influence in the early ages of the Church. The curious apocryphal legend of St. Thecla, of which Iconium is the scene, must not be entirely passed by. The "Acta Pauli et Theclae" are given in full by Grabe (Spicil. vol. 1), and by Jones (On the Canon, 2, 353- 411); and in brief by Conybeare and Towsons (St. Paul, 1, 197). The Church planted at this place by the apostle continued to flourish (Hierocles, p. 675) until, by the persecutions of the Saracens, and afterwards of the Seljukians, who made it one of their sultanies, it was nearly extinguished. But some Christians of the Greek and Armenian churches, with a Greek metropolitan bishop, are still found in the suburbs of the city, not being permitted to reside within the walls.

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Koniyeh is situated at the foot of Mount Taurus (Mannert, 6:1, p. 195 sq.), upon the border of the lake Trogitis, in a fertile plain, rich in valuable productions, particularly apricots, wine, cotton, flax, and grain. The circumference of the town is between two and three miles, and beyond these are suburbs not much less populous than the town itself, which has in all about 30,000 inhabitants, but according to others 80,000. The walls, strong and lofty, and flanked with square towers, which, at the gates, are placed close together, were built by the Seljukian sultans of iconium, who seem to have taken considerable pains to exhibit the Greek inscriptions, and the remains of architecture and sculpture belonging to the ancient Iconium, which they made use of in building the walls. The town, suburbs, and gardens are plentifully supplied with water from streams which flow from some hills to the westward, and which, to the north-east, join the lake, which varies in size with the season of the year. In the town carpets are manufactured and blue and yellow leathers are tanned and dried. Cotton, wool, hides, and a few of the other raw productions which enrich the superior industry and skill of the manufacturers of Europe, are sent to Smyrna by caravans. The most remarkable building in Koniyeh is the tomb of a priest highly revered throughout Turkey, called Hazrit Mevlana, the founder of the Mevlevt Dervishes. The city, like all those renowned for superior sanctity, abounds with dervishes, who meet the passenger at every turning of the streets, and demand paras with the greatest clamor and insolence. The bazaars and houses have little to recommend them to notice. (Kinneir's Travels in Asia Minor; Leake's Geography of Asia Minor; Arundell's Tour in Asia Minor; Niebuhr, Trav. 1, 113, 149; Hassel, EL'rdbeschlr. Asiens, 2, 197; Rosenmuller, Bib. Geog. 1, 1, p. 201, 207; Hamilton's Researches in Asia Minor, 2, 205 sq.; etc. For the early and Grecian history of this place, and the fanciful etymologies of the name, see Anthon's Class. Dict. s.v.)


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Iconium'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/i/iconium.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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