J E Atkinson


The account in Acts 17 is approached from an historical point of
view in the context of Athens’ situation as an ‘autonomous’ city in a
province of the Roman Empire. Despite the allusions to the trial of
Socrates, the circumstantial evidence suggests that Paul was not
formally put on trial, and if the hearing was more of a public debate
then one might have expected more of a three-cornered exchange.
Commentaries on Acts 17 generally focus on Christological issues
reflected in Luke’s account of Paul’s encounter with Stoics and
Epicureans in Athens, and naturally treat the episode as a chapter in
the history of Christianity, but the aim here is to approach the
episode more from an historical point of view in the context of
Athens’ situation in a province of the Roman Empire.1 It is argued, if
only in summary form, that Luke’s text is not meant to be taken as
referring to a formal trial, especially when one allows for literary
influences and Luke’s structuring of Paul’s challenges in this period
in Greece.

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ISSN 2079-2883 (online); ISSN 0303-1896 (print)

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