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GOD: new evidence


Local Details: Paul in Athens

'Testing Luke' #12


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In the book of Acts, in the Bible, Luke records how Paul the apostle arrived in Athens.

Wherever he went in Athens, when Paul looked up, he could see the Acropolis, with its temples and shrines. Luke says that he was distressed by all the idols he saw all over the city. Luke also says that the people of Athens spent all their time talking about the latest ideas.

Paul did what he usually did in a new city: he debated in the synagogue, and he spoke day by day in the market place to anyone who would listen. The 'market place' was probably the large agora which you can still see today, near the Acropolis.

Paul also got into a debate with some philosophers. Their reaction was to ask, 'What’s this babbler trying to say?' They thought that Paul was an ill-educated con man or trickster. The word Luke uses for 'babbler' is a local Athens slang term 'spermalogos.' Today we might say that someone is 'full of sound-bites.'

Once again we see that Luke describes local details accurately: He describes the kind of debate that went on in the market place, which was characteristic of life in Athens. He also uses the right local slang term for someone who does not know what they are talking about – a seed-picker, or 'spermalogos.'

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