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The Theology of the Gospels

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James Moffatt
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Text from an inscription on some local altar, to an unknown god. He began by assuring his audience that he could tell them what they were worshipping in devout ignorance, and tried in this way to get a hearing for the gospel of Jesus. According to a Greek bishop of the tenth century, who wrote a commentary on Acts, the inscription dated from a complaint of Pan that the Athenians had neglected to acknowledge him. Consequently, after winning a victory over the Persians with the help of Pan, they erected an altar to him, and in order to guard against any similar danger in other directions if they neglected a god who was unknown to them, they erected that altar with the inscription to an unknown god, meaning in case there is some other god whom we do not know, be this erected by us in his honour, that he may be gracious to us though he is not worshipped by us owing to our ignorance. It is not clear where (ecumenius got this story about the origin of the Athenian altar, but it supplies an apt setting for the argument of the apostle's address. Paul did not mean that Jesus was a divine being who was required to make their pantheon complete. His point was that the religion which he preached in the name of Jesus was one which left no such blank spaces in the universe, no tracts of experience where human life was exposed to unknown powers of life and death, over which the God of Jesus did not avail to exercise control. Unluckily he was interrupted before he could develop his argument, but his epistles show how he would probably have worked out the ~relations of the Christian God to the universe of men and things. Now this also is the motive which underlies the theology of the.

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