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Altar of the Unknown God
Excerpt from the Lexham Bible Dictionary, the most advanced Bible dictionary.
An inscription in Athens cited by Paul in Acts 17:23 to proclaim the one true God at the Areopagus.In Acts 17, Paul travels to Athens, where he gained the attention of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers though his preaching of the gospel (Acts 17:16–18). Unfamiliar with his teaching, they bring Paul to the Areopagus and ask him to explain the “strange ideas” he was presenting (Acts 17:19–20 NASB). Seeking to preach the gospel to the polytheistic Athenian audience, Paul begins by referring to one of their own altars—an altar dedicated to an unknown god—to highlight their ignorance of the one true God (Acts 17:23). Paul then explains that the true God is their creator and judge, who demands their repentance and who cannot be represented by an idol (Acts 17:24–31).By referring to the inscription to the unknown god, Paul started his preaching on a point of familiarity for the audience. The inscription also indicated that the Athenians had a vague idea of the true God’s existence; however, they did not know His nature or how to worship Him (Witherington, The Acts of the Apostles, 523).
Dictionaries
The Lexham Bible Dictionary
Inscription to the Unknown God
Inscription to the Unknown God (Ἀγνώστῳ θεῷ, Agnōstō theō). An inscription in Athens cited by Paul in Acts 17:23 to proclaim the one true God at the Areopagus.In Acts 17, Paul travels to Athens, where he gained the attention of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers though his preaching of the gospel (Acts
The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary
Unknown God, Inscription to the
UNKNOWN GOD, INSCRIPTION TO THE. According to Acts 17:22–31, Paul addressed a group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers when he was at Athens. He based his speech, the so-called “Areopagus Speech,” on an altar inscription that read: “To an unknown god” (17:23). As of yet, no epigraphic evidence has been
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised
Unknown God
Unknown God [Gk. ágnōstos theós] (Acts 17:23). In the opening sentences of his address on the Areopagus Paul referred to an altar inscribed “to an unknown god” that was among the many objects of worship of the Athenians. Paul identified this “unknown god” as the God he proclaimed (Acts 17:23).The
The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated)
Unknown God, An
unknown god, an, a designation referred to in an inscription on an altar seen by Paul in Athens (Acts 17:23), which he then used as the basis for his Areopagus (or Mars Hill) sermon (17:22–31). It was apparently a custom in the ancient world for altars to be dedicated to “unknown gods,” lest one be forgotten
The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia
Unknown God
UNKNOWN GOD. An inscription from an Athenian altar, employed by Paul as the basis for his Areopagus address, read “to an unknown god” (Gr. agnosto theo; Acts 17:23 ff.). Apparently the altar had been erected in honor of a supposed divine benefactor whose identity was unknown. In this confession of ignorance
The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition
Unknown God
UNKNOWN GOD (Gk. agnōstos theos). In Acts 17:23 Paul refers to an Athenian altar-dedication ‘To the unknown God’ which forms the text of his *Areopagus address. Pausanias (Description of Greece, 1. 1. 4) says that in Athens there are ‘altars of gods called unknown’ and Philostratus (Life of Apollonius
Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible
Unknown God, The
Unknown God, theDesignation in an Athenian altar inscription “to the (or ‘an’) unknown god,” used by Paul as the text for his “Areopagus sermon” (Acts 17:22–31). Paul took this inscription as indication of Athenian religiosity, and on that basis preached the Christian gospel to them, refuting their
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary
Unknown God
Unknown God (Gk. agnṓstos theós). The text of an inscription on an altar seen by Paul at Athens (Acts 17:23), which he used as the theme of his Areopagus address (vv. 22–31). The Greek geographer Pausanias (second century A.D.) noted the existence of “altars to gods unknown” between the harbor
Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible
Unknown God
UNKNOWN GOD Ἄγνωστος θεόςI. In the Book of Acts (17:23) Luke tells how Paul the apostle addresses the Athenians on the Areopagus and takes as his point of departure an inscription on an altar he saw in the city. This inscription, he says, ran as follows: “For an unknown god” (ἀγνώστῳ θεῷ).II.
Catholic Bible Dictionary
Unknown God
UNKNOWN GOD When Paul visited Athens, he found an altar inscribed, “To an unknown god” (Acts 17:23). He mentioned the altar when he addressed a gathering of Athenian intellectuals at the Areopagus (Acts 17:22–31). It was said that the philosopher Epimenides had once stopped a plague in Athens by directing
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary
God, Unknown
GOD, UNKNOWN. Paul, in his address on Mars’ Hill, said that he had seen in Athens “an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown God’ ” (Acts 17:22–23). That there actually stood at Athens such an altar appears historically certain since Paul appeals to his own observation and does so in the presence
Unknown God
UNKNOWN GOD (Gk. agnōstos theos, “unknown god”). The inscription observed by Paul upon an altar in Athens (Acts 17:23), which he ingeniously noted in his speech before the people as an instance of their religiousness. This was not addressed to the philosophers; they did not dedicate altars to unknown
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
Unknown God, An
Unknown God, Anunknown god, an, a designation referred to in an inscription on an altar seen by Paul in Athens (Acts 17:23), which he then used as the basis for his famous Areopagus (or Mars Hill) sermon (Acts 17:22–31). It was apparently a custom in the ancient world for altars to be dedicated to
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