Spain (Σπανία, Ro 15:24,28; Ισπανία, 1 Macc. 8:3; Vulg. Hispania).This name was anciently applied to the whole peninsula which now comprises Spain and Portugal (Cellar. Notit. 1, 51 sq.). The early history of Spain is enveloped in great obscurity. The natives were called Iberians, the country Iberia, and one of the chief rivers the Iberus (the Ebro); and William von Humboldt has shown that the Iberian language was the same in every part of the country, and that it exists with certain modifications in the modern Basque. The Carthaginians, during the flourishing times of their republic, established many settlements upon the Spanish coast, such as Carthago (now Cartagena), and Malacca, the royal city (now Malaga). Gades (now Cadiz) was a Phoenician settlement, probably coeval with Carthage itself, was never subject to Carthaginian rule, and during the Punic war embraced the side of the Romans. Under the management of Hamilcar Barcas and Hannibal, a considerable part of Spain became a Carthaginian colony. It gradually passed under the power of the Romans, and in the apostolic period formed no inconsiderable portion of the Roman empire. See Smith, Dict. of Geog. s.v. "Hispania." The Hebrews were acquainted with the position and the mineral wealth of Spain from the time of Solomon, whose alliance with the Phoenicians enlarged the circle of their geographical knowledge to a very great extent. SEE TARSHISH. The local designation, Tarshish, representing the Tartessus of the Greeks, probably prevailed until the fame of the Roman wars in that country reached the East, when it was superseded by its classical name, which is traced back by Bochart to the Shemitic tsaphan, "rabbit," and by Humboldt to the Basque Ezpaina, descriptive of its position on the edge of the continent of Europe. The Latin form of this name is represented by the above passages which contain all the Biblical notices of Spain: in the former the conquests of the Romans are described in somewhat exaggerated terms; for though the Carthaginians were expelled as early as B.C. 206, the native tribes were not finally subdued until B.C. 25, and not until then could it be said with truth that "they had conquered all the place" (1 Macc. 8:4). It seems clear from Ro 15:24,28, that Paul formed the design of proceeding to preach the Gospel in Spain. That he ever executed this intention is necessarily denied by those who hold that the apostle sustained but one imprisonment at Rome — namely, that in which the Acts of the Apostles leave him; and even those who hold that he was released from this imprisonment can only conjecture that in the interval between it and the second he fulfilled his intention. There is, in fact, during the three first centuries no evidence on the subject beyond a vague intimation by Clement, which is open to different explanations; and later traditions are of small value. SEE PAUL. The mere intention, however, implies two interesting facts, viz. the establishment, of a Christian community in that country, and this by means of Hellenistic Jews resident there. We have no direct testimony to either of these facts; but as the Jews had spread along the shores of the Mediterranean as far as Cyrene in Africa and Rome in Europe (Ac 2:10), there would be no difficulty in assuming that they were also found in the commercial cities of the eastern coast of Spain. The early introduction of Christianity into that country is attested by Irenaeus (1, 3) and Tertullian (Adv. Jud. 7). An inscription, purporting to record a persecution of the Spanish Christians in the reign of Nero is probably a forgery (Gieseler, Church Hist. 1, 82, note 5).

Bible concordance for SPAIN.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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