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Historical Background

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Chapter Summary

In the Lycus Valley, Paul and his companions observed and promoted the birth of three Christian communities, which maintained contact and cooperated: in Colossae, Hierapolis, and Laodicea. Epaphras, a close colleague of Paul who guided the spread of the gospel in the Lycus Valley, served as a key figure for all three communities. The communication network was tightly woven, the distances between the cities were short, and the cultural and political situation encouraged close cooperation. The early prominence of the cult of Zeus is confirmed by the earliest known Greek inscription from the region, which dates from the period before the founding of Laodicea. The worship of Apollo in the region also fed on both Greek and epichoric traditions. Cicero provides the earliest explicit reference to a Jewish presence in the Lycus Valley, in his speech delivered in 59 BCE in defense of L. Valerius Flaccus.

Keywords: Cicero; Colossae; cult of Zeus; epichoric traditions; Hierapolis; Jewish communities; Laodicea; Lycus Valley; Paul



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