Category Archives: acts of the apostles

επεγεγραπτο αγνωστω θεω

Inscribed To An Unknown God
1. The Hebrew writings are translated into Greek (LXX) c. 280 BCE for the Greek general Ptolemy Philadelphus

2. Gentiles find a mystery, hidden within the text

3. This mystery is that there is a greater god apart from and unknown to the Hebrew god and that this hidden god has sent his son to act as a ransom to free humans from the law of the creator.

4. Originators such as “Paul” preached this message as revealed gospel.

5. Later, as the religion fractured, certain groups discounted the idea of a separate god from the creator, instead fusing the character of this unknown god onto the Hebrew god, Yahweh.

6. This fusing accounts for three central quirks of Christianity:

a) A noticable change in the character of god from the orginal Hebrew version to the later Christian version

b) The fact that god, who in the past has no issue dealing directly with his creation, now needs a mediator.

c) The interesting and quite ridiculous “bottom line” of Christianity being that God sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself.

This all clears up once one realises that the original Christian god was another god entirely and makes the entire religion make, as much as any relgion can, sense.

Isn’t there a story in Acts of the Apostles where Paul says to some Greeks that the sacrifices they made to the “unknown god” was in fact the Christian god?

Acts 17:23

23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD (επεγεγραπτο αγνωστω θεω). Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

Why would these Greeks be unaware of the Christian god if he was supposed to be one and the same to the Hebrew god? The Greeks most certainly knew about the Jews and their god. This was probably put in to fuse the once separate Christian god and the Jewish god, which would be an attack on the Marcionites. Another line of evidence that Acts of the Apostles was written in the mid to late 2nd century, since there was no Marcionism in the 1st century.

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Posted by on September 15, 2009 in acts of the apostles, marcion, marcionism, unknown god


Dating Acts of the Apostles

Conservative Christian apologists want Acts of the Apostles (AoA) to be dated as early as possible. Looking at all of the evidence, however, indicates that AoA is a late 2nd century work. Here are some arguments for early dates and for later dates

Early Date for AoA

1. Doesn’t mention the death of Paul or Peter, which by tradition was around 64 CE
2. Reference to a “Theophilus” who was supposedly a High Priest in the 40s CE
3. Unfamiliar with and contradicts Paul’s letter to the Galatians

Later Date for AoA

1. Usage of Josephus (90s CE)

Josephus is the only known source to name Theudas. Additionally, he is named as an insurrectionist. The author of Acts makes a chronological mistake, “After him (Theudas) Judas the Galilean rose up.” But this mistake is based on the fact that Josephus mentions these two out of chronological order! The author of Acts is following the order of mention (Theudas then Judas) in Josephus Antiquities 10.5.1-2 without a careful reading of the context.

2. Glut of other ΠΡΑΞΕΣ (praxes – “acts”) type material in the 2nd century.
3. Theology similar to Polycarp (c. 125 CE) and the Pastoral Epistles
4. First witness to AoA and Pastoral Epistles is Irenaeus (c. 175 CE)
5. First witness to a collected Pauline epistle canon is Marcion (c. 140 CE), thus the first emphasis on the popularity of that apostle
6. Motivation to tame the elevated status of Marcion’s Paul and the elevated status of James to the Ebionites/Thomas
7. Written in third person, with unnatural transitions to first person plural (“we”) passages coinciding with sea voyages and unnatural transitions back to third person after sea voyages.
8. Theophilus was also the name of an eclectic Christian in the 2nd century (who I wrote about here) who seems to not know about the Jesus story.

Based on all of the internal and external evidences, I would conclude that AoA was written no earlier than Josephus and no later than Irenaeus. Dating it earlier than that seems to be based solely on apologetical grounds. It seems unreasonable that AoA would be written in the 40s or 60s CE and sit invisible and unused in Christian polemics until 110 – 130 years later. Also considering the unstable nature of papyrus used in the 1st century makes it even more unlikely that it would sit invisible without someone taking care of it (or copying it) to make sure it wasn’t destroyed.

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