Thursday, January 20, 2005

A better approach to Paul's Areopagus speech

I'll admit I've taught Paul's Athenian speech in Acts 17:16-21 as a model of adjusting one's approach to accommodate the hearers. Conrad Gempf set me straight in a (serious) article at Ship of Fools. Paul's approach, Gempf points out, was far from soft and accommodating.

You wouldn't make that mistake if you knew his audience or could see their faces as he spoke. They felt about the same way as you would if some stranger came to you and said, "You're very religious, aren't you?"

And they are Athenians. Philosophers. Lovers of wisdom. But what does Paul say he likes about these planet-brained boffins? That they admit to being ignorant. Addressing the ancient equivalent of the dons of Oxford or Cambridge, Paul lectures them on the subject of their ignorance.



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