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GOD: new evidence

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Local details: Zeus and Hermes in Lystra

'Testing Luke' #06

 

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The book of Acts, in the Bible, records that the apostles Paul and Barnabas visited Lystra, in south central Turkey.

While they were here, Paul healed a man who couldn't walk. The local people mistook Paul and Barnabas for the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes, and started to offer a sacrifice to them – at which, Paul and Barnabas were horrified.

This fits in with what we know about Lystra: There are several inscriptions from this area, dating from the third century AD, which confirm that the people here made a point of worshipping Zeus and Hermes.

There was a local legend that Zeus and Hermes had once visited the area, disguised as ordinary men. They were looking for somewhere to stay, but a thousand homes turned them away.

Finally, one poor elderly couple made them welcome. In response, the gods turned their home into a temple, with a roof of gold, and columns of marble. They appointed the elderly couple to be a priest and priestess, and instead of dying, they became trees. Then the gods destroyed the homes of all the people who'd turned them away.

So when Paul healed the lame man, the people of Lystra remembered the legend, and thought that Zeus and Hermes had come back. They wanted to make sure they didn't make the gods angry again!

The writer of Acts knew the details of local beliefs and customs in this remote part of southern Turkey.

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