Thought for the week, 21 May 2017

by Glyn Samuels

When Jesus spoke with an entirely Jewish audience he often quoted from scripture, expecting and trusting that his listeners would know, or at least recognise, the reference. Even when dying on the cross he quoted the first line of Psalm 22, where the remainder of that psalm is remarkably relevant to what was happening.

In the reading from Acts today St Paul was addressing a crowd of Athenians. Instead of using excerpts from the Old Testament, that his Gentile hearers would not have recognised, he instead quoted from a Cretan philosopher (Epimenides) and even from a Greek Poet (Aratus), trusting and expecting that his hearers would recognise the references.

Perhaps the greatest relevance of that is the fact that even at the on-set of the early Christian Church there was a move to show that God had been speaking to and blessing all peoples, not just the Jews, for hundreds of years. Epimenides died six hundred years before St Paul addressed the crowd and the quotation from his works had originally been Minos speaking of the Father- God Zeus. Aratus died about three hundred years before the speech and his poem also was addressed to Zeus, but St Paul cleverly insists that the references had in reality been to God the Father, who was and is and ever shall be.

Where else in ancient writings, I wonder, can we see that God had been the guiding force?