This whole keeping track of what day of Lent we're in AND not counting the Sundays might make my head explode, by the time Easter gets here!! So, whatever day of Lent it actually is, here's my post for today:
Acts 17:16-34--Paul in Athens
I like the story of Paul in Athens, at least in part because I've been to Athens and I know some things about Greek culture. I've seen the agora, the Acropolis, and the Areopagus (which the Common English Bible translates as "Mars Hill"), which are all mentioned in this passage. So, unlike other days when I said that all the place names are meaningless to me, these mean something to me, and that does make the story more interesting to me, I think. Maybe I need to do some more traveling!
Anyway, I laugh when I read verse 21, where the writer says that all the people in Athens did nothing but talk about the newest thing all the time. That is so how we picture philosophers, isn't it? And it's how we might imagine theologians doing their "work," too, for that matter. Of course, Paul knows that is not the only way we "do" faith, but when in Rome, as they say, right? ;)
So Paul adapts really well to his audience here, to try to get the point across to some of these Athenians. He succeeds, too! Now, maybe he would have hoped for more converts, but at least he got some, right? Despite how annoyed we might get with Paul, I think his strategy here is really impressive--he is so learned and culturally aware, and he's very knowledgeable and clever. It's interesting that the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in this story, and that Paul does not mention Jesus' name, but I wonder if that's not a literary device. The identity of God is hidden, in order to appeal more to the Greeks, but God is at work so very plainly to see. It's like the story of Esther--Esther can't speak about God, but God is very much at work in her story, we believe.
What do you think about Paul's trip to Athens? Does he just try to blend in with the culture, or does he employ a good strategy for reaching people "where they are," as they say? I think the comments feature is enabled, so you can comment below. If not, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll see if I can fix it. I'd love to read your feedback!