Christianity in Lycia: from its beginnings to the “Triumph of Orthodoxy”
Suna ve İnan Kıraç Akdeniz Medeniyetleri Araştırma MerkeziSuna & İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations
259 - 288
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In his seminal article on the churches of Lycia, R. M. Harrison opined that the relative lack of information about Christianity in that region during the Imperial period was “probably acciden-tal”, basing his observation on the belief that the coastal cities of the region, ‘in close commer-cial contact’ with the Levant and Egypt, were likely to be as “receptive to the new religion as were other, better documented parts of Asia Minor” 1 . The reality is, though, that a broad range of evidence does exist to suggest that some of Lycia’s inhabitants were receptive to the “new religion” from as early as the Apostle Paul’s first missionary journey to Anatolia in c. 46/48. The principal purpose of this article, then, is to identify and elaborate on these items regarding early Christianity in Lycia as a means of correcting this rather one-sided opinion. In addition, however, the opportunity is taken to explore here a greatly neglected topic: namely the reac-tion of the Lycian Church to the various Christological debates that repeatedly divided the early Church from the sole reign of Constantine I and the First Ecumenical Council in 325, to the re-gency of Theodora and the Synod of Constantinople in 842 and its celebration of the “Triumph of Orthodoxy”, marking the final defeat of iconoclasm and so also the genesis of the modern Eastern Orthodox Church. This excursus, though, will naturally necessitate some basic analysis of the underlying issues to elucidate their substance and so better understand the controversies they generated and how these impacted on the wider Church. The picture that emerges with specific regard to Lycia is a mixed but interesting one, for it suggests that up to at least the 7 th century, members of the Lycian Church were often attracted to and embraced dogmas and doctrines that were denounced as heretical by the mainstream Church.