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GOD: new evidence


Local Details: The Unknown God

'Testing Luke' #14


What's in the series?      Previous: Paul on Mars Hill      Next: Gallio in Corinth

The Bible describes what happened when Paul the apostle came to Athens - how he was brought in front of the Mars Hill council, to explain his message. This is what Luke says:

'So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: 'Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about.'

Several ancient writers mention altars to unknown gods in connection with Athens, including the Greek travel writer and geographer Pausanias. He describes seeing such altars on his way into Athens from the port of Piraeus.

Another Greek writer, Philostratus, also refers to altars to an unknown god,' in his book about Appolonius of Tyana.

And in the third century AD, the biographer Diogenes Laertius tells a story about the poet and philosopher Epimenides, and how the altar to an unknown god came about.

Finally, an altar to an unknown god was discovered in Rome in 1820.

So Luke gets right his picture of Paul seeing an altar dedicated to an unknown god in Athens. Yet again, Luke describes local details accurately.

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‘The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important questions we have to answer. I think it is a scientific question.’
- Richard Dawkins