Cappadocia

CAPPADOCIA (kăp'a-dō’shĭ-a). A large inland region of Asia Minor that apparently was given this name by the Persians, though its people were called “Syrians” by the Greeks. In the latter time of the Persian Empire the region was divided into two territories of which the more northerly was later named Pontus and the southerly Cappadocia, the name it retained in NT times. It was bounded on the north by Pontus, on the east by Syria and Armenia, on the south by Cilicia, and on the west by Lycaonia. The Romans built roads through the “Cilician gates” in the Taurus range so that Cappadocia could readily be entered from the south. The Cappadocians were Aryans. Jews from Cappadocia (Acts.2.9) were among the hearers of the first Christian sermon along with men from other Anatolian provinces; and Peter directed his first letter (1Pet.1.1) in part to “God’s elect...scattered throughout” various provinces in the north. It is almost certain that many of these Cappadocian Jews were converted on the Day of Pentecost, and so had the honor of being among the very earliest Christians.——ABF


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CAPPADOCIA kăp’ ə dō’ sh ə (Καππαδοκία, G2838). The name Cappadocia at one time covered the whole eastern mass of Asia Minor, from the line of the Halys River to the upper stream of the Euphrates, and from the Black Sea down to Cilicia. It later became the geographical custom to call the northern portion Cappadocian Pontus, or simply Pontus, and the southern portion Greater Cappadocia. The heartland of the latter region is a rolling plateau, well-watered but mountainous, timbered, and with a harsh winter climate. The climate limited and determined productivity. Only hardy fruits and cereals grew, and the area was chiefly pastoral, the Persian kings taking their tribute in horses, sheep, and mules. There was some mining, but the whole area was remote in terms of ancient transport and communication, and consequently developed slowly.

A species of feudal rule under Iranian barons seems to have been the Pers. system of control, but the area was sparsely populated, poor, and of no great strategic significance to a power centered on the Mesopotamian plain. For the same reason Seleucid efforts at Hellenization and urbanization made slow progress, Mazaca and Tyana being the only significant cities.

Rome, on the other hand, after her clash with the Seleucids and her penetration of Asia Minor in the 2nd cent. b.c., became increasingly aware that Cappadocia was a bulwark of her elusive NE frontier. Devastated by Tigranes of Armenia in the struggle between Rome and Mithridates of Pontus, Cappadocia received significant attention from Pompey in his historic reorganization of the eastern Mediterranean in 64 b.c. He established the royal line, which a generation later was replaced by Antony, who had found the ruler unreliable at the time of the perilous Parthian invasion. Cappadocia fell under full Rom. control under Tiberius in a.d. 17, and in a.d. 70 Vespasian united the area with part of Armenia to form a stronger bulwark against the Parthians, Rome’s unsolved problem of that frontier. Apart from strategic significance, Cappadocia straddled the trade routes to Asia Minor, and for the remainder of the imperial period the region received notable attention. A Christian church was early established there, but by whom is not known (1 Pet 1:1).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

An extensive province in eastern Asia Minor, bounded by the Taurus mountains on the South, the Anti-Taurus and the Euphrates on the East, and, less definitely, by Pontus and Galatia on the North and West. Highest mountain, Argaeus, over 13,000 ft. above sea-level; chief rivers, the Pyramus now Jihan, Sarus now Sihon, and Halys now the Kuzul; most important cities, Caesarea Mazaca, Comana, Miletene now Malatia, and Tyana now Bor. At Malatia the country unrolls itself as a fertile plain; elsewhere the province is for the most part composed of billowy and rather barren uplands, and bleak mountain peaks and pastures.

The Greek geographers called Cappodax the son of Ninyas, thereby tracing the origin of Cappadocian culture to Assyria. Cuneiform tablets from Kul Tepe (Kara Eyuk), deciphered by Professors Pinches and Sayce, show that in the era of Khammurabi (see Hammurabi) this extensive ruin on the ox-bow of the Halys and near Caesarea Mazaca, was an outpost of the Assyr-Bah Empire. A Hittite civilization followed, from about 2000 BC onward. Malatia, Gurun, Tyana and other old sites contain important and undoubted Hittite remains, while sporadic examples of Hittite art, architecture and inscriptions are found in many places, and the number is being steadily increased by fresh discovery. After the Hittites fade from sight, following the fall of Carchemish, about 718 BC, Cappadocia emerges as a satrapy of Persia. At the time of Alexander the Great it received a top-dressing of Greek culture, and a line of native kings established an independent throne, which lasted until Cappadocia was incorporated in the Roman Empire, 17 AD. Nine rulers bore the name of Ariarathes (the Revised Version (British and American) Arathes) the founder of the dynasty, and two were named Ariobarzanes. One of these kings is referred to in 1 Macc 15:22. The history of this Cappadocian kingdom is involved, obscure and bloody.

Pagan religion had a deep hold upon the population prior to the advent of Christianity. Comana was famous for its worship of the great goddess Ma, who was served, according to Strabo, by 6,000 priestesses, and only second to this was the worship paid to Zeus at Venasa.

Representatives from Cappadocia were present at Pentecost (Ac 2:9), and Peter includes the converts in this province in the address of his letter (1Pe 1:1). Caesarea became one of the most important early centers of Christianity. Here the Armenian youth of noble blood, Krikore, or Gregory the Illuminator, was instructed in the faith to which he afterward won the formal assent of his whole nation. Here Basil governed the churches of his wide diocese and organized monasticism. His brother, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory Nazianzen, lived and labored not far away. Cappadocia passed with the rest of Asia Minor into the Byzantine Empire, but from its exposed position early fell under the domination of the Turks, having been conquered by the Seljukians in 1074.