Kenneth D. Litwak, «Israel’s Prophets Meet Athens’ Philosophers: Scriptural Echoes in Acts 17,22-31», Vol. 85 (2004) 199-216
Generally, treatments of Paul’s speech note biblical parallels to Paul’s wording but find no further significance to these biblical allusions. This study argues that Luke intends far more through this use of the Scriptures of Israel beyond merely providing sources for Paul’s language. I contend that, through the narrative technique of "framing in discourse", Luke uses the Scriptures of Israel to lead his audience to interpret Paul’s speech as standing in continuity with anti-idol polemic of Israel’s prophets in the past. As such, read as historiography, Luke’s narrative uses this continuity to legitimate Paul’s message and by implication, the faith of Luke’s audience. Luke’s use of the Scriptures here is ecclesiological.
Israelâ€™s Prophets Meet Athensâ€™ Philosophers 205
Athenians they are ignorant of the one true God and then Paul goes on
to describe this God as the creator of all. I am not arguing that Paulâ€™s
two statements are based on this one verse as such, but this verse does
show that Paulâ€™s words are echoing scriptural tradition. It is not
essential that members of Lukeâ€™s audience recognize Isa 40,28
specifically â€” only that they recognize in Paulâ€™s words pervasive
biblical ideas. Isa 42,5a, speaks of God as the creator of heaven and
earth. Similar assertions are made in Isa 45,12.18. Not only the
prophetic literature, but also other texts testify to God as the creator,
such as Gen 14,19, which speaks of God who created heaven and earth
(cf. Gen 14,22). Exod 20,11 asserts that â€œin six days the Lord made
heaven and earth and the seas and everything in themâ€. Ps 145,6a
likewise states that God made the heavens, the earth, the seas and
everything in them.
Next, Paul asserts in 17,24b that, since God is lord of all, and has
made all, he does not dwell in a building made by human hands. This
idea, which is also asserted by Stephen in Acts 7,48-50 (17), echoes the
assertion of several scriptural intertexts, such as 1 Kgs 8,27, which
asks, â€œif heaven and the heaven of heavens are not sufficient for
[God,]â€ how much less the house that Solomon built for Godâ€™s name?
Cf. 1 Chr 6,18. Isa 66,1-2a makes the same point, in which God asks,
â€œheaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool for my feet. What
house would you build for me?â€ Both of these texts indicate that, since
God has made the heavens and the earth, he can obviously not be
contained in a temple, contrary to the implication of the many temples
in Athens (18). The word ceiropoihvto" occurs many times in the LXX.
The Mosaic Law uses it when forbidding the manufacture of idols or
to refer to idols themselves, â€œdo not make for yourselves hand-made
(ceiropoivhta) idolsâ€ (Lev 26,1; cf. Lev 26,30). Isaiah predicts the
disappearance of idols, kai; ta; ceiropoivhta pavnta katakruvyousin
(17) The idea that no temple can hold God is clearly important to Luke, as it
appears in separate speeches to Jews and to Gentiles. According to J. JESKA, Die
Geschichte Israels in der Sicht des Lukas. Apg 7,2b-53 und 13,17-25 im Kontext
antik-jÃ¼discher Summarien der Geschichte Israels (GÃ¶ttingen 2001) 211, this is
part of Lukeâ€™s critique of temples and thus of Gentile religiousness.
(18) See DUBARLE, â€œLe Discoursâ€, 587; R. PESCH, Die Apostelgeschichte (Apg
13-28) (EKK; ZÃ¼rich 1986) II, 136; F.F. BRUCE, â€œPaulâ€™s Use of the Old Testament
in Actsâ€, Tradition and Interpretation in the New Testament. Essays in Honor of
E. Earle Ellis for His 60th Birthday, (eds. G.F. HAWTHORNE â€“ O. BETZ) (Grand
Rapids, MI 1987) 75; FITZMYER, Acts, 608; and POLHILL, Acts, 373; and F.F.
Bruce, The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids, MI 1988) 336.