Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paul in Athens

In an interview with José Bergamín I read long ago, he asked, "If the Greeks had met the Prophets, what would they have had to exchange, other than insults?" We do not have an account of such a meeting from the Greek perspective, but we have, in The Acts of the Apostles, an account of Paul's visit to Athens, which took place some time around 50 A.D. Only one thing is clear from the account: neither thought much of the other.

And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens. . . . Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. . . . And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. (ACTS 17-15-33)

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