Colossae

Colossae

[kuh-los-ee]
Colossae, ancient city of SW Phrygia, Asia Minor, S of the Maeander (modern Menderes) River, in W Turkey, 4 mi (6.4 km) E of Denizli. It flourished as a trading town until eclipsed by neighboring Laodicea. The area around Colossae was famous for fantastic theological theories in early Christian times. Although Paul himself never went there, he addressed his epistle to the Colossians through his fellow worker, Epaphras, who lived at Colossae.

Colossae or Colosse (also known as Chonae or Kona), was an ancient city of Phrygia, on the Lycus, which is a tributary of the Maeander River. It was situated about 12 miles above Laodicea, and near the great road from Ephesus to the Euphrates. The site, located in what is now Anatolia in Turkey, has never been excavated.

In 396 B.C., during the Persian Wars, the satrap Tissaphernes was lured to Colossae and slain by an agent of the party of Cyrus the Younger. Pliny tells that the wool of Colossae gave its name (colossinus) to the colour of the cyclamen flower. During the Hellenistic period, the town was of some mercantile importance, although by the first century it had dwindled greatly in size and significance.

It does not appear that St. Paul had visited this city when he wrote his Epistle to the Colossians there since he tells Philemon of his hope to visit it upon being freed from prison (see 22). It seems that Epaphras was the founder of the Colossian church (see ; ).

This town fell into decay (possibly due to an earthquake) and the Byzantine town of Chonæ (Χῶναι) occupied a site near its ruins. A look at the classical, Byzantine, and otherwise medieval literature mentioning the site reveals a name change for part or all of Colossae to Cona or Chonae. The town was the birthplace of the Byzantine Greek writers Nicetas and Michael Choniates.

In Byzantine and Russian art, the theme of the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Chonae is intimately linked with the site. Eastern Orthodox tradition tells that the pagans directed the stream of a river against the sanctuary of St. Michael there to destroy it, but Michael the Archangel appeared and split the rock by lightning to give a new bed to the stream, diverting the flow away from the church and sanctifying forever the waters which came from the gorge. The Orthodox celebrate a feast in commemoration of this event on 6 September. The Monastery of the Miracle (Chudov Monastery) in the Moscow Kremlin, where the Russian Tsars were baptized, was dedicated to the Feast of the Miracle at Kona.

References

  • Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.
  • Bennett, Andrew L. "Archaeology From Art: Investigating Colossae and the Miracle of the Archangel Michael at Kona." Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin 50.

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