Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Today we went to the Acropolis.  Every Greek city had an acropolis, but the one in Athens is the most famous.  This is the site of the Parthenon.  At the base of the Acropolis is the Areopagus or Mars Hill from Acts 17:16-34.  This is where The Apostle Paul most likely gave a speech or defense of the message he was preaching.  We also visited the Agora, or market place further down the Acropolis.  It is almost certain that Paul was here and walked among the various shops and colonnades. The top of the Acropolis gave an amazing view of Athens, but no picture really does it justice.   There are hills all around Athens, so the city looks like a basin with houses going up the hills.

The Agora/market place as seen from the top of the Acropolis.

The side of the Parthenon. 

Our professors. Left to Right: Klyne, John, and Max. 
Parthenon in the background.

My homily for the day:
This is a picture of the Temple of Nike – the Greek god of Victory – atop a wall of the Acropolis.  The Parthenon, and the Athenian temple and even the temple of Nike were homes for the god who lived there.  The god of the temple was made of marble and usually wrapped in gold, or silver.  But, those who came to visit the site and worship at the site were not permitted to enter the temple – only the priest of that particular god.  The temple was for the god, and there were many different gods and many different temples on the Acropolis alone.

Just down the hill from the Acropolis is the Areopagus, a large rock with no buildings on it.   

This plaque mounted on the rock shows the Greek text of Acts 17:22-31.  The story in Acts records that Paul was sharing the gospel in the market place of Athens, and some were intrigued and some took offense.  They asked that he tell them more at the Areopagus.  
Once they were there Paul delivered his speech.  In the speech Paul says things like, “The God who made the world and everything in it…does not live in temples made by human hands…we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals…he has fixed a day when he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” 

 Now imagine that Paul is either facing or has his back to the Acropolis, so that he and his hearers can see this…

Now imagine how those words must have sounded in this context to folks who were quite used to gods living in temples while the worshippers are kept on the outside.  It would have been foreign, or offensive – or maybe just plain crazy.  Imagine how a god lacking a temple and dying for them would have sounded.  And imagine how strange Christians must have seemed since they lacked priests, a temple, and sacrifices: all common features of all other religious practice.  For me, it was amazing to place this speech in context, and imagine how the context moved Paul to take the homiletical approach he did. 
But it makes me think,
What bastion of culture and value would be in the background if Paul spoke to us today?  
What assumptions about life and worldview might the gospel poke and prod at in our day? 

I love this picture. It is the concluding line of Paul’s speech.
“anasthsas auton ek nekron” = “[God] raised him from [the] dead ones.”

On a lighter note…

Yes, this is a 4th Century BC kiddie chair and potty seat.  Necessity is the mother of invention.

No comments:

Post a Comment