🔼The name Iconium: Summary
- City Of The [Mass Produced] Image
- From the noun εικων (eikon), image.
🔼The name Iconium in the Bible
The name Iconium (which is Latin; Ikonion is Greek) belonged to a city in central Anatolia (modern Turkey), in the Roman province of Lycaonia and situated on an important Roman road from Ephesus to Tarsus, Antioch and the Euphrates. Today this city is known as Konieh or Konya.
Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium after having been driven out of Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:51, 14:1), but after initial success, they were also driven out of Iconium and went to Lystra and Derbe (14:6). At Lystra Paul healed a lame man and the people began to take Paul for Hermes and Barnabas for Zeus. While Paul and Barnabas tried to rectify this, Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived (14:19) and stirred up the crowd, which led to Paul's stoning. Paul survived and the day after, they went back to Derbe, then to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch (14:21).
A while later, Paul broke up with Barnabas and chose Silas and went back to Derbe and Lystra. There they met Timothy, and found him well spoken of by the people in Lystra and Iconium (16:2). In his second letter to Timothy, Paul recounted the events that took place in Iconium (2 Timothy 3:11).
The name Iconium occurs 6 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
🔼Etymology of the name Iconium
The name Iconium derives from the familiar noun εικων (eikon), meaning image or icon, possibly on account of a legend that involved Perseus' conquest of the region by means of an image of Medusa:
The verb εικω (eiko) describes the repeatedly pressing of a mould into some soft material in order to make multiple identical imprints. An item so mass-produced is an εικον (eikon), from which comes our word "icon."
The name Iconium literally means City Of The Image, and may perhaps indeed be named after some sacred effigy, but since every city (then and now) is covered in images of all kinds, naming a city after one seems a bit odd.
It seems more likely that the familiar but difficult idea of a city that simultaneously represents a person (who in turn represents a culture that is so strongly unified that it attains personhood) is not original Biblical and was in fact entertained by other Bronze Age peoples (Genesis 4:17, Revelation 21:2).