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  1. Unless otherwise noted, translations are from the NRSV.
  2. Luke Timothy Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1992), 319.
  3. Johnson, Acts, 318.
  4. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Acts of the Apostles: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 600, 601.
  5. Lit. "one picking up seeds."
  6. The interpretation dates back to Chrysostom in the fourth century. See Ernst Haenchen, The Acts of the Apostles: A Commentary, tr. Bernard Noble and Gerald Shinn (Philadelphia: he Westminster, 1971), 518.
  7. Paul is said to be "in the midst" of the Areopagus (17:22); therefore the court rather than the hill appears to have been intended.
  8. Fitzmyer, Acts, 601; cf Johnson’s "exemplary meeting."
  9. See F. Wilbur Gingrich, ed., Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. rev. Frederick W. Danker (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1983). See also Haenchen, Acts, 517.
  10. See Haenchen, Acts, 518, 527. I. Howard Marshall finds the entire scene "reminiscent of the activity of Socrates": The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and a Commentary (Leicester: Intervarsity; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1980), 283.
  11. Haenchen, Acts, 527.
  12. Haenchen, Acts, 520, and F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988), 331-332, argue for a casual discussion.
  13. Marshall, Acts, 285.
  14. Richard N. Longenecker, "The Acts of the Apostles," in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 9, ed. F. E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981), 474.
  15. See Raymond Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 316-319.
  16. The most prominent of these scholars was Martin Dibelius, whose Aufsätze zur Apostelgeschichte (1951) was translated into English in 1956. Ernst Haenchen follows Dibelius in seeing the speech in Athens as "a Lucan creation and not the shortened report of a Pauline sermon" (Acts, 529), as does Johnson, who calls it "entirely the creation of Luke," where we discover "not what happened but Luke’s idealized version of what ought to have happened" (Acts, 318).
  17. Longenecker, "Acts," 230; cf C. S. C. Williams, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1964), 201; Johannes Munck, The Acts of the Apostles: Introduction, Translation and Notes, rev. William F. Albright and C. S. Mann (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967), 173.
  18. See Bruce, Book of Acts, 334; Fitzmyer, Acts, 602.
  19. Marshall, Acts, 282.
  20. Johnson notes that among the Greeks superstition was considered worse than atheism (Acts, 314). Among those who opt for the more positive reading are Johnson, Williams (Commentary, 202), and Bruce, (The Acts of the Apostles, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990], 380). The only hesitation in accepting the rhetorical argument for reading the word as a compliment is based on a remark by the second-century Greek writer Lucian, who notes that complimenting the Areopagus in order to curry favour was discouraged (see Bruce, ibid.).
  21. Marshall, Acts, 285; Fitzmyer, Acts, 606.
  22. See Haenchen, Acts, 521.
  23. Marshall, Acts, 285.
  24. Longenecker, "Acts," 476.
  25. There may also be a play on agnÇs, "unknown, ignorant," and hagnos, "pure, holy."
  26. Haenchen, Acts, 521.
  27. Commentators commonly note that the allusions nevertheless echo the Septuagint, rather than the Hebrew text.
  28. Longenecker, "Acts," 476; Williams, Commentary, 203; Bruce, Book of Acts, 336-337; Marshall, Acts, 287.
  29. Haenchen, Acts, 523. Williams, Commentary, 203, also notes the pun.
  30. Marshall, Acts, 287.
  31. Cf Fitzmyer, Acts, 609.
  32. For discussions of the options see Marshall, Acts, 288; Haenchen, Acts, 523; Bruce, Book of Acts, 337.
  33. Marion L. Soards, The Speeches in Acts: Their Content, Context, and Concerns (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1994), 98.
  34. Fitzmyer, Acts, 610.
  35. Williams, Commentary, 204. The idea of pagan insensitivity to the truths of natural theology is not inconsistent with similar ideas expressed in Romans 1:18-23.
  36. It is so designated in NRSV, NJB, NIV, and is accepted as a quotation from Epimenides by Bruce and Munck, and with reservations by Williams and Marshall. Haenchen and Fitzmyer deny the attribution. The argument underlying the attribution is complex and tenuous. See Marshall, Acts, 288-289; Williams, Commentary, 204-205; Bruce, Book of Acts, 339.
  37. Haenchen, Acts, 524 n.3; Fitzmyer, Acts, 610.
  38. A similar line from Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus is sometimes cited, but most commentators now consider this to be a red herring.
  39. Some commentators have argued that Paul’s attack on idolatry represents standard Jewish polemic directed only at the cruder forms of popular Greek religion, not at sophisticated Greek philosophy, and that an anti-idol motif is in fact present in some Greek writing. See Haenchen, Acts, 525; Johnson, Acts, 316-317. For a defense of the view that Paul was at one with the Old Testament and in opposition to Greek thought generally, see Marshall, Acts, 289.
  40. Bruce, Book of Acts, 340.
  41. It is common to quote from Aeschylus’ Eumenides, ll.646-648 to illustrate the Greek attitude towards bodily resurrection: "But once/the dust has drained down all a man’s blood, one the man/dies, there is no raising him up again" (tr. Richard Lattimore). This is, of course, placed in the mouth of a dramatic character in a play from the fifth century bce.
  42. Bruce makes the interesting suggestion that verses 22-30 constitute a "preparatory lesson," and that verse 31 is the opening of the next–and unfinished–lesson. See Book of Acts, 341; Acts of the Apostles, 386-387.
  43. See, for instance, Fitzmyer, Acts, 601.
  44. Longenecker, "Acts," 479; Haenchen, Acts, 526.
  45. Munck, Acts, 174.