AX 17, versus 22-34
This is part 2 of Paul's adventures in Greece as laid out in Acts 17 . We rejoin Paul as he is about to open his mouth and say something profound to the people of Athens.
“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.”
The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible took that one on; I will let it speak for itself.
“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.”
Here we are seeing history in the making! Do you realize what this is? As far as I can tell, the shrine to the Unknown God (a tradition so no god was offended by being forgotten), was the very first Easter Bunny! Paul is saying that their Unknown God is Jesus! Thereby co-opting a local tradition into the Jesus myth! This is the precedent that gives us so many of the pagan traditions reborn into the Church of Jesus, from the pantheon of Saints, right down to the dancing skulls of South America. A stroke of genius from a ruthless opportunist.
“God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;”
Looks like he picked up a few pointers from hanging around the philosophers. I have not heard this argument against making offerings before. Not one of the more popular passages, I bet.
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”
Which is why there are so many boundary disputes. The faithful might quibble that this is because no one listens. I must then quibble back that it is convenient that, no matter what the outcome of whatever war is being fought, that outcome must have been what was intended, according to this passage. So much for free will!
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”
This contradicts god’s own words in Genesis, concerning his being found.
“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”
That reads “offspring”, not “creation”. I would say that Paul is putting quite a slant on his sermon, tailoring it to the audience, or else there is more to this Jesus myth than I was taught in Sunday School.
“Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:”
Lost that battle too Paul. Have you seen the cathedrals and churches that bear the name “St. Paul’s”? Those I’ve seen are a regular Disneyland of statuary and bleeding mannequins.
“Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this [matter].”
And when Paul shifts back to his stock material, he loses his audience.
“So Paul departed from among them.”
“Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which [was] Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.”
There’s always a few that will believe in flying saucers, or whatever else you throw at them. One must remember when one reads, “We will hear thee again of this matter”, that this took place before the television, the radio, or even the printing press. Along with minstrels, politicians, and street theatre, this is what passed for entertainment back then. To me, this chapter raises more questions than it answers. I see nothing that would suggest that this is an argument against blind faith. Of course, if Jesus appeared to Paul as is claimed, he is excluded from requiring faith. The scriptures he quotes to support his arguments simply denotes a faith in the scriptures, for which he has his mentors to thank.