Nine different cities were called Laodicea in antiquity; those in Phrygia, in Pisidia, and on the northern seacoast of Syria are the more significant.
Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana, also known as Laodicea near Lycus, was founded by Antiochus II and named after his wife. In spite of disastrous earthquakes, particularly in Nero's time, Laodicea was prosperous and noted for the quality of the woolen clothing it produced. Friendly relations with Smyrna, Hierapolis, Pergamum, and Nicomedia and the city's location on the main trade route from Ephesus to the East contributed to its affluence. A well-organized Jewish community lived in the city.
Christianity came to Laodicea in Apostolic times. St. Paul (Col 4.12–17) mentions the Church here and its zealous Epaphras, but a Pauline epistle to the Laodiceans is disputed. By the end of the 1st century the Church was an important one in Asia Minor, to which St. John (Rv 3.14–22) gave stern admonitions. Between 165 and 170 a synod met at Laodicea to discuss the easter controversy (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.26.3). Polycrates in sending the synod's decisions to Pope St. victor i calls Sagaris, the martyr bishop of Laodicea, one of the "great luminaries of Asia" (ibid. 5.24.5). A council convened in the city (c. 360) and formulated important canons for the discipline of the clergy and laity, and for the liturgy. The much-discussed canon 60 lists the books of the Old and New Testaments omitting Judith, Tobit, Sirach, Maccabees, and Revelation. The bishopric of Laodicea became the metropolitan see of Phrygia with numerous suffragans. In the 12th and 13th centuries Turks and Mongols destroyed the city; its ruins have not yet been excavated.
Laodicea in Pisidia (Laodicea Combusta or Catacecaumene ), the modern Yorgan Ladik, was located on the main trade route from Ephesus to the Euphrates. Little is known about the city's early Christianity, but numerous Greek inscriptions dating from 350 to 450 show its vigorous growth. In 1908 the sepulchral inscription of Marcus Julius Eugenius (d. c. 332), Bishop of Laodicea, was discovered. In his epitaph written by himself the bishop says that he was the son of Cyrillus Celer; served the governor of Pisidia in a military capacity; married a senator's daughter, Gaia Julia Flaviana; suffered for the faith because of Maximinus's command to offer sacrifice; and came to Laodicea, where he was chosen bishop and held that office for 25 years, during which he rebuilt the church and adorned it with paintings and statues.
Laodicea on the northern seacoast of Syria was a port city founded by Seleucus I and named after his mother. Hellenistic cults survived long in this region, and no bishops are listed before the middle of the 3rd century. apollinaris, whose Christological errors went undetected for some time, became bishop there in 362. A synod met in Laodicea in 481 to deal with matters concerning Stephen of Antioch. Justinian I renovated the church of St. John in this city. Because of its strategic location Laodicea frequently bore the brunt of military expeditions from the Byzantines, Arabs, and Crusaders but was never completely destroyed. On April 28, 1961, Laodicea became the seat of the Melchite archbishop.
Bibliography: É. beurlier, Dictionnaire de la Bible, ed. f. vigouroux 4.1:86–87 (Paris 1895–1912). w. m. ramsay, The Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, 2 v. (Oxford 1895–97). e. honig-mann, Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. 12.1 (Stuttgart 1924). 712–724. c. m. kaufmann, Handbuch der altchristlichen Epigraphik (St. Louis 1917) 249–251. h. leclercq, Dictionnaire d'archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (Paris 1907–53) 8.1:1321–23. Monumenta historica Societatis Jesu, v.1 (Rome 1932). b. kÖtting, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, (Freiburg, 1957–66) ed. j. hofer and k. rahner 6:793–95.
LAODICEA , city in *Phrygia on the river Lycus. There is preserved in Josephus a letter from the Laodicean authorities to a Roman official (Ant. 14:241–3). In it the Laodiceans inform the official that they had received a letter from him through a representative of the high priest Hyrcanus (most probably *Hyrcanus ii) concerning the permission given to the Jews to live in accordance with their ancestral laws. They add that they have complied, as they were averse to arousing the displeasure of the authorities. It is thus clear that Laodicea possessed a Jewish settlement which was protected from discrimination by the intervention of Rome. Some scholars date the document as early as the time of Hyrcanus i but this is questionable. There is however other evidence that there were Jews in Laodicea, or at least in its vicinity, by the second century b.c.e. Josephus (Ant. 12:147–53) quotes an order of Antiochus iii with reference to the settlement in Phrygia and Lydia of 2,000 families of Jewish soldiers from Mesopotamia. This makes it possible to establish the date of the Jewish settlement in the areas around Laodicea, and is also of great importance with regard to Jewish settlement in Asia Minor in general. Cicero states that 20 talents of Jewish gold destined for the Temple of Jerusalem were confiscated by L. Valerius Flaccus in Laodicea, 61–60 b.c.e. (Pro Flacco 28:68).
W.M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, 1 (1895), 32; Neubauer, Geog, 299; D. Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor, 2 vols. (1950), 127, 986–7 and index.