In view of the important part played by the churches of Asia in the development of Christianity during the period 70-170 a.d., the proper preliminary to the subject which is treated in this book would be a study of the social and political condition of Asia Minor about the middle of the first century of our era. Such a task is too great for the narrow limits of present knowledge. In place of such a preliminary study, it appeared a more prudent course to describe the travels of St. Paul in the country, as affording a series of pictures of single scenes, each simple and slight in character, and each showing some special feature of the general life of society.
But while chronological considerations require that these chapters be placed as a preliminary part, they are, alike in conception and in execution, later than the body of the book. The writer, while composing the opening chapters, had the rest of the work already clear in his mind; and there has been unconsciously a tendency to write as if the views stated in the main body of the work were familiar to the reader. In the preliminary part it is important to observe any faint signs of the later idea that Christianity was the religion of the Empire. We trace the rise of this idea from the time when Paul went from Perga into the province Galatia "to the work" (Acts 13:14, 15:38.)
The discussion which is here given of the missionary journeys of St Paul in Asia Minor is not intended to be complete. It is unnecessary to repeat what has already been well stated by others. The writer presupposes throughout the discussion a general familiarity with the previous descriptions of the journeys. His intention has been to avoid saying again what has been rightly said in the works of Conybeare and Howson, of Lewin, of Farrar, etc.; and merely to bring together the ideas which have been suggested to him by long familiarity with the localities, and which seemed to correct, or to advance beyond, the views stated in the modern biographies of St. Paul, and in the Commentaries on the Acts and the Epistles.
The notes which follow may perhaps seem to be unnecessarily minute; but the reason for their existence lies in the fact that it is important to weigh accurately and minutely minute details. Fidelity to the character and circumstances of the country and people is an important criterion in estimating the narrative of St. Paul's journeys; and such fidelity is most apparent in slight details, many of which have, so far as I can discover, hitherto escaped notice. The writer's subject is restricted to the country with which he has had the opportunity of acquiring unusual familiarity, and about which many false opinions have become part of the stock of knowledge handed down through a succession of commentators. Even that most accurate of writers, the late Bishop Lightfoot, had not in his earlier works succeeded in emancipating himself from the traditional misconceptions; we observe in his successive writings a continuous progress towards the accurate knowledge of Asia Minor which is conspicuous in his work on Ignatius and Polycarp. But in his early work, the edition of the Epistle to the Galatians, there is shown, so far as Asia Minor is concerned, little or no superiority to the settled erroneousness of view and of statement which still characterises the recent commentaries of Wendt and Lipsius; and only a few signs appear of his later fixed habit of recurring to original authorities about the country, and setting the words of St. Paul in their local and historical surroundings, a habit which contrasts strongly with the satisfied acquiescence of Lipsius and Wendt in the hereditary circle of knowledge or error. The present writer is under great obligations to both of them, and desires to acknowledge his debt fully; but the vice of many modern German discussions of the early history of Christianity—viz., falseness to the facts of contemporary life and the general history of the period—is becoming stereotyped and intensified by long repetition in the most recent commentators, and some criticism and protest against their treatment of the subject are required.
I regret to be compelled in these earlier chapters to disagree so much with Lightfoot's views as stated in his edition of Galatians: perhaps therefore I may be allowed to say that the study of that work, sixteen years ago, marks an epoch in my thoughts and the beginning of my admiration for St. Paul and for him.
In order to put the reader on his guard, it is only fair to state at the outset that the writer has a definite aim—viz., by minutely examining the journeys in Asia Minor to show that the account given in Acts of St. Paul's journeys is founded on, or perhaps actually incorporates, an account written down under the immediate influence of Paul himself. This original account was characterised by a system of nomenclature different from that which is employed by the author of some of the earlier chapters of Acts: it used territorial names in the Roman sense, like Paul's Epistles, whereas the author of Acts 2:9, uses them in the popular Greek sense; and it showed a degree of accuracy which the latter was not able to attain. The general agreement of this view with that stated by Wendt, pp. 23 and 278, is obvious; and certain differences also are not difficult to detect. He dates the composition of Acts between 75 and 100 a.d., and holds that the original document alone was the work of Luke. In carrying out this aim, it will be necessary to differ in some passages of Acts from the usual interpretation, and the reasons for this divergence can be appreciated only by careful attention to rather minute details. For the sake of brevity, I shall, so far as regard for clearness permits, venture to refer for some details to a larger work, whose results are here applied to the special purpose of illustrating this part of the Acts; but I hope to make the exposition and arguments complete in themselves.
As this idea, that the narrative of St. Paul's journeys, or at least parts of it, had an independent existence before it was utilised or incorporated in Acts, must be frequently referred to in the following pages, the supposed original document will be alluded to as the "Travel-Document." The exact relation of this document to the form which appears in Acts is difficult to determine. It may have been modified or enlarged; but I cannot enter on this subject My aim is only to investigate the traces of minute fidelity to the actual facts of contemporary society and life, which stamp this part of Acts as, in part or in whole, a trustworthy historical authority, dating from 62-64, a.d.
I hope to show that, when once we place ourselves at the proper point of view, the interpretation of the "Travel-Document" as a simple, straightforward, historical testimony offers itself with perfect ease, and that it confirms and completes our knowledge of the country acquired from other sources in a way which proves its ultimate origin from a person acquainted with the actual circumstances. If this attempt be successful, it follows that the original document was composed under St. Paul's own influence, for only he was present on all the occasions which are described with conspicuous vividness.
For a long time I failed to appreciate the accuracy of the narrative in Acts. It has cost me much time, thought, and labour to understand it; and it was impossible to understand it so long as I was prepossessed with the idea adopted from my chief master and guide, Bishop Lightfoot, that in St. Paul's Epistle the terra Galatians denotes the Celtic people of the district popularly and generally known as Galatia. To maintain this idea I had to reject the plain and natural interpretation of some passages; but when at last I found myself compelled to abandon it, and to understand Galatians as inhabitants of Roman Galatia, much that had been dark became clear, and some things that had seemed loose and vague became precise and definite. As the two opposing theories must frequently be referred to, it will prove convenient to designate them as the North-Galatian and the South-Galatian theories; and the term North Galatia will be used to denote the country of the Asiatic Gauls, South Galatia to denote the parts of Phrygia, Lycaonia, and Pisidia, which were by the Romans incorporated in the vast province of Galatia.
The question as to what churches were addressed by St. Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians is really of the first importance for the right understanding of the growth of the Christian Church during the period between 70 and 150 A. D.; and the prevalent view, against which we argue, leads necessarily to a misapprehension of the position of the Church in the Empire. The diffusion of Christianity was, as I hope to bring out more clearly in the following pages, closely connected with the great lines of communication across the Roman Empire, with the maintenance of intercourse, and with the development of education and the feeling of unity throughout the Empire. The spread of Christianity had a political side. The Church may be, roughly speaking, described as a political party advocating certain ideas which, in their growth, would have resulted necessarily in social and political reform. All that fostered the idea of universal citizenship and a wider Roman policy—as distinguished from the narrow Roman view that looked on Rome, or even on Italy, as mistress of a subject empire, instead of head and capital of a co-ordinate empire—made for Christianity unconsciously and insensibly; and the Christian religion alone was able to develop fully this idea and policy (v. p. 365 ff).
The chief line along which the new religion developed was that which led from Syrian Antioch through the Cilician Gates, across Lycaonia to Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome. One subsidiary line followed the land route by Philadelphia, Troas, Philippi, and the Egnatian Way to Brindisi and Rome; and another went north from the Gates by Tyana and Cæsareia of Cappadocia to Amisos in Pontus, the great harbour of the Black Sea, by which the trade of Central Asia was carried to Rome. The maintenance of close and constant communication between the scattered congregations must be presupposed, as necessary to explain the growth of the Church and the attitude which the State assumed towards it. Such communication was, on the view advocated in the present work, maintained along the same lines on which the general development of the Empire took place; and politics, education, religion, grew side by side. But the prevalent view as to the Galatian churches separates the line of religious growth from the line of the general development of the Empire, and introduces into a history that claims to belong to the first century, the circumstances that characterised a much later period. The necessary inference from the prevalent view is, either that this history really belongs to a much later period than it claims to belong to (an inference drawn with strict and logical consistency by a considerable body of German scholars), or that the connexion between the religious and the general history of the Empire must be abandoned. If the arguments for the prevalent view are conclusive, we must accept the choice thus offered; but I hope to show that the prevalent view is not in accordance with the evidence.
The discussion of St. Paul's experiences in Asia Minor is beset with one serious difficulty. The attempt must be made to indicate the character of the society into which the Apostle introduced the new doctrine of religion and of life. In the case of Greece and Rome much may be assumed as familiar to the reader. In the case of Asia Minor very little can be safely assumed; and the analogy of Greece and Rome is apt to introduce confusion and misconception. Conybeare and Howson have attempted, in a most scholarly way, to set forth a picture of the situation in which St. Paul found himself placed in the cities of Asia and of Galatia. But the necessary materials for their purpose did not exist, the country was unknown, the maps were either a blank or positively wrong in regard to all but a very few points; and, moreover, they were often deceived by Greek and Roman analogies. The only existing sketch of the country that is not positively misleading is given by Mommsen in his Provinces of the Roman Empire; and that is only a very brief description, which extends over a period of several centuries. Now the dislike entertained for the new religion was at first founded on the disturbance it caused in the existing relations of society. Toleration of new religions as such was far greater under the Roman Empire than it has been in modern times: in the multiplicity of religions and gods that existed in the same city, a single new addition was a matter of almost perfect indifference. But the aggressiveness of Christianity, the change in social habits and every-day life which it introduced, and the injurious effect that it sometimes exercised on trades which were encouraged by paganism, combined with the intolerance that it showed for other religions, made it detested among people who regarded with equanimity, or even welcomed, the introduction into their cities of the gods of Greece, of Rome, of Egypt, of Syria. Hence every slight fact which is recorded of St Paul's experiences has a close relation to the social system that prevailed in the country, and cannot be properly understood without some idea of the general character of society and the tendencies which moulded it The attempt must be made in the following pages to bring out the general principles which were at work in each individual incident; and such an attempt involves minuteness in scrutinising the details of each incident and lengthens the exposition. It will be necessary to express dissent from predecessors oftener than I could wish; but if one does not formally dissent from the views advocated by others, the impression is apt to be caused that they have not been duly weighed.
It is not easy to find a more absolute contradiction than there is between the view adopted in the text and that of Dr. E. Schürer in Theologische Literaturzeitung, 1892, p. 468: "An official usage, which embraced all three districts (Galatia, Pisidia, and Lycaonia) under the single conception Galatia, has never existed." This extraordinary statement is made with equal positiveness by Dr. Schürer in Jahrbücher für protestantische Theologie, 1892, p. 471, where he affirms that "the name Galatia is only a parte potiori, being taken from the biggest of the various districts which were included in the provinces, and is not an official designation: the name and the conception Galatia did not embrace more than the special district of this name." When I read such a statement I fall into despair. I have stated the facts with some care in my Histor. Geogr., pp. 253 and 453; and Dr. Schürer devotes considerable space to restating them in a less complete, and, as I venture to think, less accurate way, treating a small selection of inscriptions as if they represented the official usage, while the overwhelming majority of passages, which describe the entire province by the name Galatia, are entirely disregarded by him. The history which I have given of the development of the province Galatia is inconsistent with his view, and I see no reason to alter what I have said on any important point; a Roman province must have had a name, and the name of the province in question was Galatia. I shall not spend time in arguing the point, but shall lay down the following series of propositions, which I believe to be correct and founded on the ancient authorities:—
1. The province in question was, in its origin, the kingdom left by Amyntas at his death in b.c. 25, and not merely Galatia proper.
2. Pliny says that the whole of Pisidia, as far as the border of Kabalia, in Pamphylia, was called Galatia (Galatia attingit Pamphyliæ Cabaliam V. 147. Cp. Ptolemy V. 4, 11, 12).
3. The first governor appointed is called "Governor of Galatia."
4. Inscriptions prove that the extreme parts of Galatic Pisidia and Galatic Lycaonia were under the government of the officers of Galatia, as we see from the following:—A Latin official document of the most formal type, recording a demarcation of boundaries in the western part of Galatic Pisidia, and dating in a.d. 54, or immediately after, defines the Roman officer who carried out the delimitation as procurator, and an inscription of Iconium describes the same person as procurator of the Galatic province (C.I.G., 3991).
5. Honorary inscriptions, in which it is an object to accumulate titles, speak of the official as governor of Galatia, Pontus, Paphlagonia, Pisidia, Phrygia, Lycaonia, etc.; but we possess the actual text of the inscription in which the people of Iconium expressed their gratitude to the procurator of the Galatic province, who had been charged by the Emperor Claudius with the duty of reorganising the city; hence they call him "Founder." The city takes its new name of Claudiconium in this inscription, and the date must be about the year 54. Here Iconium formally reckons itself as Galatic.
6. When a large part of Pontus was incorporated in the province about a.d. 2-35 it was named Galaticus, i.e., the part of Pontus attached to the province Galatia, as distinguished from Pontus Polemoniacus, i.e., the part of Pontus governed by King Polemon. The term Galaticus implies that Galatia was recognised as the official name of the province. Precisely the same distinction exists between Lycaonia Galatica and Lycaonia Antiochiana (C. I. L., V., 8660).
7. There are cases in which the Roman official title of a province was a compound name, e.g., Bithynia Pontus, Lycia Pamphylia, the three Eparchiæ, Cilicia, Lycaonia, Isauria. But in all these cases there was a permanent distinction between the component parts: each retained a certain individuality of constitution, which is well marked in our authorities. In the case of Galatia there is no trace that such distinction between its constituent parts existed; but all the evidence points to the conclusion that the parts were as much merged in the unity of the province as Phrygia was in Asia. The name Phrygia retained its geographical existence as a district of Asia; but the official name of the province was Asia.
8. Under Vespasian the province Cappadocia was added to Galatia, but continued to enjoy a separate constitution. The governor presided over united, yet distinct, provinces; and this novelty is clearly marked in the inscriptions, which henceforward use the plural term "provinciarum," or ???????????.
9. After Cappadocia was separated from Galatia by Trajan, the plural usage persisted, at least in some cases, as is clear from the inscription given in C. I. L., III., Suppl., No. 6813. This is contrary to the old usage. The plural gave more dignity to the title; and, moreover, it was in accordance with the spirit of individuality which was stimulated in these oriental districts by western education and feeling under the Empire. It is possible that the Koinon of the Lycaonians was founded under the Flavian Emperors, but I still think that it was instituted later (see Hist. Geogr., p. 378). It is, however, not improbable that a distinction in constitution between Lycaonia and Galatia proper began in the Flavian period, and culminated in their separation between 137 and 161 a.d., when Lycaonia became one of the three southern Eparchiæ under a single governor.