The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries

by Adolph (von) Harnack
translated and edited by James Moffatt
Second, enlarged and revised English edition;
London: Williams and Norgate / New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1908 (from the 2nd German edition).
Theological Translation Library, volumes 19-20

From the German, Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten (1902, revised 1906, 1915, and finally 1924)

[[Book 4, Chapter 3, section 3, location 8 (page 180 = 2nd German ed p. 151) (scanned and proofed, Elana Newberger 4/2004), edited RAK 5/2004, Frank Lameiro & RAK 5/2005; some editing still needed [see next section for details])]]



Ever since Antioch had come to be a place of increasing importance, it had exercised a very strong and steady influence over Cilicia, the whole province gravitating more and more to Hellenic Syria.2 This feature comes out in its church history as well as elsewhere. Luke ranks Syria and Cilicia together as missionary spheres; Christian communities arose there contemporaneously with the earliest communities in Syria; Paul, a son of Tarsus,3 laboured in his native land; and the Cilician churches, together with those of Antioch and Syria, took part in the great Gentile Christian controversy (Acts 15.23, epistle from Jerusalem to the Gentile Christians in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia; 15.41, churches in Syria and Cilicia; Paul himself groups together τὰ κλίματα τῆς Συρίας καὶ τῆς Κιλικίας,  Gal. 1.21. Ignatius, cp. ad Philad. 11, was accompanied on his transportation by a deacon named Philo from Cilicia). At a later period, too, Cilician bishoprics were frequently filled up from Antioch.4

1 Cp. Map 6.

2 Under Domitian or Trajan even the Κοινὸν Κιλικίας, or Diet of Cilicia, met at Antioch.

3 There was a large number of Jews in Cilicia, and especially in Tarsus (cp. Acts 6.9, and Epiph., Hœr. 30). The house of Paul was of course pointed out here (cp. Soz. 7.19).

4 For Rhossus, see above, p. 139.

Our information regarding the history of the Cilician church down to the council of Nicæa is extremely small. In the chronicle of Dionysius of Telmahar (ed. Siegfried and Gelzer, p. 67), a bishop of Alexandria parva [Alexandretta] is mentioned about the year 200. Dionysius of Alexandria once or twice mentions Helenus, bishop of Tarsus, and from the mode of reference we may gather that he was metropolitan of Cilicia. This province must therefore have comprised a considerable number of bishoprics at that period (cp. Eus., H.E. 6.46, 7.5: "Helenus, bishop of Tarsus in Cilicia, and the other bishops of that district," "Helenus of Tarsus and all the churches of Cilicia"). Tarsus, distinguished as it was for a flourishing school of learning, formed at the same time the political capital of the province. Lusus of Tarsus, Amphion the bishop-confessor [[181]] of Epiphania, and Narcissus the bishop of Neronias (= Irenopolis) all took part in the synod of Ancyra (c. 314 CE); cp. also the synod of Neo-Cæsarea, which immediately followed it. Many foreign Christians were deported to the mines in Cilicia (Mart. Pal. 10.1, 11.6), and the presence of Christians in Pompeiopolis is implied in the martyrdom of Tarachus and his fellows (Ruinart, pp. 451 f.). The epistle of Alexander of Alexandria (Athan., de Syn. 17) and5 Philostorgius (3.15) vouch for a bishopric at Anazarbus (Anazarba); and for a nameless episcopal seat in Cilicia, at the opening of the fourth century, see Epiph., Hœr. 30.11.

5 The bishop of Anazarbus, shortly after the Nicene council, was Athanasius, the pupil of Lucian (Philost., loc. cit.). For Borboriani in Cilicia, see the same passage.

No fewer than nine Cilician bishops attended the Nicene council, as well as one chor-episcopus; viz., the bishops of Tarsus, Epiphania,6 Neronias, Castabala,7 Flavias,8 Adana, Mopsuestia,9 Ægae,10 and Alexandria parva.11 'Their numbers, and the fact of the chor-episcopate having already developed within Cilicia, would indicate that considerable progress had been made in the Christianizing of this province.

6 According to Amm. Marcell. (22.11.3), Georgius, the bishop who opposed Athanasius, was born here. Bishop Amphion was a confessor at the time of the Nicene council (so Sozom. 1.10).

7 Cp. the unauthentic Ignatian epistles.

8 Alexander, subsequently bishop of Jerusalem (in the first half of the third century), is said by some authorities to have been bishop of Flavias at an earlier period. But this can hardly be correct.

9 The predecessor of the Macedonian in this see was Auxentius, of whom Philostorgius (in Suidas) has given an interesting account. He was originally a high officer under Licinius, and was obliged to resign. He was then made bishop of Mopsuestia.

10 Cp. the destruction of the local temple to Æsculapius by Constantine; also the Acta Claudii et Asterii (Ruinart's Acta Mart., Ratisbon, 1859, pp. 309 f.). But is the Ægea of this martyrdom really the Ægæ of Cilicia? The trial is conducted by Lysias, "praeses provinciae Lyciae." I have not, however, been able to find any Ægea or Ægæ in Lycia.

11 The register doubles Narcissus of Neronias as Narcissus of Irenopolis, but the two towns are identical. The names of the bishops are as follows: Theodorus, Amphion, Narcissus, Moses of Castabala [evidently a Jew by birth], Nicetas, Paulinus, Macedonius, Tarcodimantus of Ægae [a Cilician by birth! Two Cilician kings of this name (Ταρκονδίμοτος) and a prince (Ταρκόνδημος) of upper Cilicia are known], and Hesychius. The chor-episcopus is called Eudæmon.