The story of Paul’s visit to the city of Athens with its speech delivered before the Areopagus council is one of the best-known and most-celebrated passages of the Acts of the Apostles. Being the only complete example of an apostolic address to “pure pagans” recorded, it has consistently attracted the attention of historians, biblical scholars, theologians, missionaries, apologists, artists, and believers over the centuries.
Interpretations of the pericope are many and variegated, with opinions ranging from deeming the speech to be a foreign body in the New Testament to acclaiming it as the ideal model of translation of the Christian kerygma into a foreign idiom. At the heart of the debate is whether the various parts of the speech must be understood as Hellenistic or biblical in nature—or both.
Paul against the Idols defends and develops an integrated contextual study of the episode. Reading the story in its Lukan theological, intertextual, narrative, linguistic, and historical context enables an interpretation that accounts for its apparent ambivalence. This book thus contributes to the ongoing hermeneutical and exegetical scholarly discussions surrounding this locus classicus and suggests ways in which it can contribute to a Christian theology of religions and missiology.
Pardigon provides a creative and timely reading of the famous speech at Mars Hill, where Paul proclaims the one true God in a ‘context of arrogance, ignorance, mockery and confusion.’ By reading this speech within the framework of Luke’s theology and the canonical context of Exodus and Isaiah, Pardigon sheds fresh light on many aspects of the text. A valuable contribution to a theology of religions for our times!
—Jos Colijn, Theological University of the Reformed Churches
I am truly delighted that Pardigon's study on Paul’s Areopagus speech is at last being published. It’s a tour de force and my recommendation of it has already been evidenced in the number of times I refer to the unpublished thesis in my own theology of religions. Now one can access it unfiltered and in full. Highly recommended.
—Daniel Strange, Director Oak Hill College, author of Their Rock is Not Like Our Rock: A Theology of Religions
Dr. Flavien Pardigon here offers a tightly argued riposte to the widespread view that Paul’s speech in Athens is congenial to an ‘inclusivist’ reading which sees paganism (and its modern equivalents) as merely needing correction rather than wholesale replacement by the gospel which Paul proclaims. His work engages well with linguistics, and shows an admirable knowledge of the vast literature. It will be invaluable to others who engage with the details of the Athens speech.
—Steve Walton, Professor, Associate Research Fellow, Trinity College, Bristol
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Flavien Pardigon teaches at a variety of theological institutions on four continents.