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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Philadel´phia, a city of Lesser Asia, and one of the seven containing the Christian churches to which the Apocalyptic admonitions were addressed. The town stood about twenty-five miles south-east from Sardis, in N. lat. 32° 28′, E. long. 28° 30′, in the plain of Hermus, about midway between the river of that name and the termination of Mount Tmolus. It was the second in Lydia, and was built by King Attalus Philadelphus, from whom it took its name. In B.C. 133 the place passed, with the dominion in which it lay, to the Romans. The site is reputed by Strabo to have been very liable to earthquakes; but it continued a place of importance and of strength down to the Byzantine age; and of all the towns in Asia Minor it withstood the Turks the longest. It was taken by Bajazet I in A.D. 1392.

Philadelphia still exists as a Turkish town, under the name of Allah Shehr, 'city of God,' i.e.High-town. It covers a considerable extent of ground, running up the slopes of four hills, or rather of one hill with four flat summits. The country, as viewed from these hills, is extremely magnificent—gardens and vineyards lying at the back and sides of the town, and before it one of the most extensive and beautiful plains of Asia. The town itself, although spacious, is miserably built and kept, the dwellings being remarkably mean, and the streets exceedingly filthy. Across the summits of the hill behind the town and the small valleys between them runs the town wall, strengthened by circular and square towers, and forming also an extensive and long quadrangle in the plain below. The missionaries Fisk and Parsons, in 1822, were informed by the Greek bishop that the town contained 3000 houses, of which he assigned 250 to the Greeks, and the rest to the Turks. On the same authority it is stated that there are five churches in the town, besides twenty others which were too old or too small for use. Six minarets, indicating as many mosques, are seen in the town; and one of these mosques is believed by the native Christians to have been the church in which assembled the primitive Christians addressed in the Apocalypse. There are few ruins; but in one part there are still found four strong marble pillars, which supported the dome of a church. The dome itself has fallen down, but its remains may be observed, and it is seen that the arch was of brick. On the sides of the pillars are inscriptions, and some architectural ornaments in the form of the figures of saints. One solitary pillar of high antiquity has been often noticed, as reminding beholders of the remarkable words in the Apocalyptic message to the Philadelphian church—'Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and he shall go no more out' ().





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Philadelphia'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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