unknown God

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Paul had noticed an altar in Athens, dedicated to ‘an unknown god’ (Acts 17: 23). Although such an altar has not been found by archaeologists, inscriptions are known of altars dedicated ‘to unknown gods’ (plural). The reasoning was that one or other of the gods might show anger at having been overlooked. Such an inscription was designed to cover all contingencies. At any rate Paul is described as making use of current religious and cultural concepts rather than demonizing them. It represents an attitude of measured appreciation.

Subjects: Biblical Studies.

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