A region in central Asia Minor. The name Γαλατία (Galatia) is derived from that of the Γαλάται (Galatians), a variant form of Κελτοί (Celts), the name of a people speaking the Celtic language who came from the East into central and western Europe probably around the beginning of the first millennium b.c.
In History. In the first half of the 3rd century b.c. a group of this Gallic or Gaulish people invaded the Balkans, Macedonia, Thrace, and Greece. After they were repulsed from Greece, three of their tribes, embracing about 20,000 souls, crossed over into Asia Minor in 178 b.c. at the invitation of King Nicomedes I of Bithynia, who sought their military service. For the next half century they overran most of Asia Minor until they were subdued by King Attalus I of Pergamum (c. 232 b.c.). Thereafter they settled in central Asia Minor, both to the east and to the west of the great bend of the Halys River.
In this region, Galatia in the strict sense, the Gaulish invaders formed merely the ruling class, to whom the earlier inhabitants (Phrygians in the west and Cappadocians in the east) were subject. After Galatia had been a vassal state of Pergamum and a half-independent kingdom, it became a client state of Rome in 64 b.c. When King Amyntas of Galatia died in 25 b.c., the country was incorporated into the Roman Empire and formed part of a newly established province, which bore the same name. However, the Roman Province of Galatia as then constituted was much larger than the original region of Galatia; it included also the districts of Lycaonia and Pisidia in the south and the southern part of Phrygia in the southwest. When the Roman Emperor diocletian reorganized the provinces of the empire (c. 295), he divided the Province of Galatia into two provinces, of which only the northern half (Galatia in the strict sense) was now called Galatia. In the 11th century the country was conquered by the seljuks, and in the 14th century it fell to the possession of the ottoman turks.
In the Bible. Because the term Galatia was used by ancient writers to designate either Galatia in the strict sense or the Roman Province of Galatia or even southern Gaul (later France), the exact meaning of the term as used in the Bible is often uncertain and, in connection with the missionary activity of St. Paul, still much disputed. The Galatians who are mentioned in 2 Mc 8:20 are, no doubt, men from Galatia in the strict sense, who often served as mercenary troops. Those referred to in 1 Mc 8:2 as defeated by the Romans may well be the Gauls of northern Italy.
In the NT the Galatia mentioned in 1 Pt 1:1 is most likely the Roman province of that name, since all the other names mentioned in this verse are those of Roman provinces in Asia Minor. It is uncertain what district is meant by the Galatia to which Crescens went (2 Tm 4:10); it might be even southern Gaul. No mention of Galatia itself is made in the Acts of the Apostles, but according to Acts 16:6 St. Paul "passed through Phrygia and the Galatian country [Γαλατική χώρα]" on his second missionary journey, and according to 18:23 he "traveled through the Galatian country and Phrygia in turn [better: one place after another in the Galatian country and Phrygia], strengthening all the disciples." Both passages probably refer to the southwest section of the Province of Galatia, which was inhabited by Phrygians and Galatians. In any case, there appears to be no clear reference in Acts to Paul's having ever evangelized Galatia proper. All available evidence seems to show that at the time of St. Paul Galatia in the strict sense was scarcely Hellenized, not even in its three main cities, Pessinus, Ancyra (modern Ankara), and Tavium, and very few Jews were settled there. The contrary is true of the southern section of the
Province of Galatia, which Paul evangelized on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13–14:25).
However, there are many modern scholars who still defend vigorously the formerly unique opinion that "the churches of Galatia" (Gal 1:2) to which Paul addressed his Epistle to the galatians were in Galatia proper. Among their arguments the strongest are (1) that Paul addressed the recipients of his letter as [symbol omitted] Γαλάται (O Galatians: Gal. 3:1), a term that would seem to fit the inhabitants of Galatia proper much better than those of the southern part of the Province of Galatia, and (2) that the "Galatian country" used in Acts 16:6; 18:23 (see above) can be understood as referring to Galatia proper.
Bibliography: w. ramsay, Historical Geography of Asia Minor (London 1890). Paulys Realenzyklopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, ed. g. wissowa et al. (Stuttgart 1893) 7.1:519–559. h. schlier, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg, 1957–66) 4:488–489. Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, tr. and adap. by l. hartman (New York 1963) 829–831.
[l. f. hartman]
GALATIA , district in Asia Minor, which became a Roman province in 25 b.c.e. Evidence of the existence of Jews in Galatia is scanty, but it is likely that Jewish settlement began with the establishment of Jewish military colonies by Antiochus iii in adjoining Phrygia and Lydia (Jos., Ant. 12:147ff.) toward the end of the third century b.c.e. Jews lived in the neighboring countries of *Pergamum, *Cappadocia (i Macc. 15:22), and *Bithynia (Philo, Embassy to Gaius, 281) in the second century b.c.e., and the first century c.e. Josephus tells of an edict of Augustus published in Ancyra, capital of Galatia, granting the Jews, among other privileges, the right to practice their ancestral traditions, and to transfer funds to Jerusalem (Ant. 16:162–5). However, "Ancyra" is a correction proposed by Scaliger from a faulty text which cannot be absolutely relied upon. Clearer evidence is available from accounts of the missionary activities of the apostle Paul among the various communities in the first century (i Cor. 16:1; Acts 16:6; 18:23), in particular his Epistle to the Galatians. Jewish names in inscriptions found in the precincts of Galatia include "Esther" and "Jacob," appearing on a tomb at Germa, southwest of Ancyra (Frey, Corpus, 2 (1952), 48, no. 796) and "Levi," inscribed elsewhere (Henderson, in Journal of Hellenistic Studies, 19 (1899), 285, no. 178). The word "Galia," recurring a number of times in talmudic literature, is in some instances considered to refer to Galatia, e.g., the journey of R. Akiva to "Galia" (rh 26a). It is similarly thought that Nahum or Menahem of "Galia" came from Galatia although others identify "Galia" with France or with a settlement in Judea. (Ket. 60a: Tosef., Er. 11:10; tj, Ber. 4:4, 8b). In ii Maccabees 8:20, it is specifically mentioned that Jews fought against the Galatians at the side of Seleucid kings in Babylonia, defeating them and taking much loot, but there is no available information as to which war is referred to, or its details.
Schuerer, Gesch, 3 (19094), 22–23; Juster, Juifs, 1 (1914), 193; W.M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, 2 (1897).
Epistle to the Galatians a book of the New Testament, an epistle of St Paul to the Church in Galatia.