Israel's Prophets Meet Athens' Philosophers:
Scriptural Echoes in Acts 17,22-31

Kenneth D. Litwak

Acts 17,22-31 does not cite the Scriptures of Israel directly, but as many have observed, Paul's words parallel many scriptural texts. Generally, studies on Acts 17 address matters such as natural theology or the Greek philosophical background of the speech, but do not focus upon the role of the scriptural references as such, even when the presence of such intertextual connections is recognized. This study focuses on the specific role of the scriptural intertexts that are echoed in Paul's speech in order to contribute to a better understanding of the function of the Scriptures of Israel in both this passage and, implicitly, Luke-Acts generally. In contrast to how scriptural parallels in Paul's speech are generally treated by scholars, I will show that Luke uses intertextual echoes of the Scriptures of Israel in Acts 17,22-31 to present Paul's message as "prophetic speech". Paul's speech stands in continuity with those of Israel's prophets in the past. This continuity (recognized by scholars in other regards) serves an important purpose in Luke's narrative. Luke establishes continuity in order to validate that Paul's message is of God, and by extension, Luke's audience, and their faith that is based upon the preaching of the gospel, such as that done by Paul. I will first examine the speech itself, looking for intertextual echoes of Israel's Scriptures. Then I will discuss the larger function of these echoes beyond that of serving in Paul's apologetic. This study will contribute to a greater understanding of the function of the Scriptures of Israel in Paul's speech and Luke-Acts as a whole.

1. Paul as Prophet in Acts

As a preface to my argument, it is useful to observe that Luke characterized Paul as a prophet1. Several pieces of data support thiswell-recognized assessment. Paul's encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus bears the marks of a prophetic commissioning. Acts 9,15-16 describe Paul's future ministry as bearing witness to the Lord before the Gentiles2, much like the description of the mission of the Servant of the Lord in Isa 49,6. Likewise Acts 22,14-16 speaks of Paul hearing the voice of the Lord and bearing witness of the Lord before people. In Acts 26,16-18 Paul recounts the Lord appearing to him and telling Paul to be a witness and to open the eyes of the blind and bring light to darkness, reminiscent of Isa 6,9-10 and 9,1-2. In Acts 13,1, Luke narrates that prophets and teachers are assembled in Antioch. In Acts 13,2, the Holy Spirit calls for setting apart Saul and Barnabas to the work to which he has "called" them. This probably suggests that Saul and Barnabas are understood to be prophets by virtue of this "call". In Acts 13,46-47, Paul describes the mission that he and Barnabas are on, citing Isa 49,6 as justification for their approach. Paul himself thus characterizes his ministry in the words spoken by Isaiah of the Servant of the Lord. It would therefore be no surprise to Luke's audience to see Paul speaking as a prophet in Acts 173.

2. Intertextual Echoes of Scripture in Acts 17,22-31

This much-discussed speech has been explored under many topics, such as the concept of natural theology. I am concerned with Luke's use of intertextual echoes from the Scriptures of Israel, which have received little scholarly attention beyond acknowledging parallels between the LXX and Paul's words4. Many authors, especially in commentaries, treat Paul's wording as "parallel" to many scriptural texts. They do not take this beyond an observation, and do not generally seek to treat in any systematic way what the force of these parallels signify. For example, multiple scholars see parallels between Paul's words in Acts 17,23 and Isa 45,14; Acts 17,24-25 and Gen 12, Isa 42,5, Ps 145,6, Gen 14,22, Exod 20,11, 1 Kgs 8,27, Ps 50,7-13, and Gen 2,7; Acts 17,26 and Gen 2,7-8, the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 10, Gen 11,9, Deut 32,8; Acts 17,27 and Gen 1,282,3, Deut 4,29, Ps 10,4 (MT), Isa 55,6, and Amos 5,6; Acts 17,29 and Deut 4,28-29, Psalm 113, Isa 40,19-19, Isa 44,9-20, and Isa 46,5-6; and Acts 17,31 and Pss 9,9, 95,13 and 97,9. It is not at all my intent to deny these parallels. Rather, I want to ask what these authors generally do not ask, What is the significance of the intertextual echoes in Paul's speech? I will consider these and other possible echoes below. While other scholars have recognized these parallels, they have done nothing with such observations. For example, Fitzmyer's observation on the scriptural language of Acts 17,25 consists of the banal statement that "Paul echoes a motif common to the OT"5. While Klling has a greater focus on scriptural parallels, even his monograph related to the speech does little more with Luke's use of the Scriptures of Israel than observations such as that on Acts 17,24, when he states that the phrase pa/nta ta_ e)n au)tw|= indicates that Luke has introduced a proposition of OT cosmology into the Areopagus speech6. This study argues that these "parallels" serve a greater function within Paul's speech than making it sound "biblical".
I contend that, on the contrary, these are not merely parallels, but intentional intertextual echoes that are pervasive in Paul's speech and have a purpose far beyond simply making Paul's speech "parallel" in thought7. To see these many echoes as merely "parallels" or texts to be compared, e.g., "cf. Gen 2,7", while useful, is a reductionisitic understanding of what Luke is doing with the Scriptures of Israel in Paul's speech8. Paul's speech echoes core scriptural traditions, primarily condemnation of idolatry, especially the condemnation of idolatry in Isaiah 40489. Luke uses these echoes to portray Paul's message as standing in continuity with the oracles of Israel's prophets, condemning idolatry at Athens in much the same way that the prophets condemned idolatry in Israel and Judah. Since Paul stands within this prophetic tradition, as a spokesperson for God, Paul's interpretation of the Scriptures and proclamation of God's plan is legitimated10.
Before examining the speech as such, it is necessary to argue for the view that this is an appropriate way of analyzing the text. Various views exist regarding what Paul was doing at the Areopagus11 and what were the sources of his statements. Much of what Paul said has parallels in Greek philosophical texts, and those parallels are not to be denied. They are doubtless an important background element for Paul's speech. This is clear from the citation of Aratus in Acts 17,28. At the same time, Paul's statements about the coming judgment through Jesus Christ, and the resurrection, are clearly not derived from Greek thought. Given the strong emphasis in the Scriptures of Israelon the topics Paul covers, especially his anti-idol polemic, and the emphasis on future judgment and resurrection, it is best to see that Paul's "underlying thought remains thoroughly biblical". Paul's speech is rooted in scriptural thought throughout12. While granting that Paul's speech is couched in such a way that its ideas would resonate, for the most part, with a pagan audience, I am considering only scriptural intertexts in Paul's speech. There are no specific quotations from the Scriptures of Israel, so this study will focus more on echoed scriptural traditions13. These intertextual echoes should not be discounted as unimportant because they are not scriptural quotations. Luke's recounting of the annunciation of John's birth in Luke 1 reverberates with scriptural intertexts, and those intertexts have a significance far beyond simply giving the narrative a biblical style or tone14.

a) Worshipping the Unknown god: Acts 17,23
Beginning with 17,23, Paul declares to the Athenians that they worship God ignorantly. Their worship practices are flawed because they do not understand God's true nature, which Paul will describe in part in the speech. Paul will present God as revealed to Israel through the Scriptures, the God the Athenians worship incorrectly because they do not know his true nature. Paul is being more delicate than Isaiah, but like Isaiah's anti-idol polemic, echoed later in the speech, Paul is saying that the Athenians' knowledge of the true God is defective, and therefore they worship him but do so incorrectly. This motif of the nations not knowing God is common in the Scriptures of Israel. For example, while the focus of the passage is on judgment on Judah's neighbors, Jeremiah refers to the nations that do not know God: "Pour out your wrath upon the nations that do not know you and the peoples who do not call upon your name" (Jer 10,25). The psalmist also speaks of those who are ignorant of God: "pour out your wrath upon the nations that do not know you" (Ps 78,6)15. In Isa 44,8-9, the prophet mocks those who, ignorant of the true God, worship nature instead. Isaiah continues this polemic in the next chapter, attacking those who, lacking knowledge, pray to gods that cannot save (Isa 45,20). Isa 45,14 says that the nations that currently do not know YHWH will come to know that he is God and there is no other. These verses are not echoed by Paul as such but the ideas they express are clearly present, just as many of the statements throughout the Areopagus address reflect elements of the anti-idol polemic of Isaiah 4048: the inability of idols to speak, see or help, the foolishness of bowing down to something that is made with human hands, especially when part of the original tree was used to cook the worshiper's dinner and the view that God is transcendent above all, and cannot therefore be represented by anything. Isaiah's assertions that idolaters and makers of idols do not know is interesting in light of Paul's words in Acts 17,23 concerning the "unknown god". Paul says that what the Athenians worship ignorantly he will proclaim to them. Paul seeks to correct their ignorance, just as Isaiah proclaims to his people the true God as opposed to the idols they worship without knowledge of the true God. Paul refers to the altar of the unknown god in Acts 17,23a, the ignorant worship of the Athenians in 17,23b, the groping after God in 17,27 and God's overlooking of the times of ignorance in Acts 17,30. Clearly, the failure of Paul's audience to recognize the true God is an important theme in Paul's speech, as well as in many scriptural intertexts which may lie behind the speech. Thus, Paul's discourse begins by echoing themes expressed by Israel's prophets, especially Isaiah16.

b) God as Creator: Acts 17,24
Paul continues to echo the Scriptures of Israel in Acts 17,24. There are two main parts to this verse. The first is the assertion that God made the world and all that is in it. This statement echoes an extensive scriptural tradition. All of Genesis 1 describes this process, while the specific assertion that God created the world may be found in Gen 1,1 and 2,1-4. Isaiah calls upon his audience to consider who God is, based upon his activity as creator of the stars (cf. Isa 40,25-26). Isa 40,28 ties together the idea of knowing who God is and his activity as creator. This verse joins two of the themes of Paul's speech. First, Paul tells the 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 Paul's two statements are based on this one verse as such, but this verse does show that Paul's words are echoing scriptural tradition. It is not essential that members of Luke's audience recognize Isa 40,28 specifically only that they recognize in Paul'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 "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth and the seas and everything in them". 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 7,48-5017, echoes the assertion of several scriptural intertexts, such as 1 Kgs 8,27, which asks, "if heaven and the heaven of heavens are not sufficient for [God,]" how much less the house that Solomon built for God's name? Cf. 1 Chr 6,18. Isa 66,1-2a makes the same point, in which God asks, "heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool for my feet. What house would you build for me?" 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 Athens18. The word xeiropoih/toj occurs many times in the LXX. The Mosaic Law uses it when forbidding the manufacture of idols or to refer to idols themselves, "do not make for yourselves hand-made (xeiropoi/hta) idols" (Lev 26,1; cf. Lev 26,30). Isaiah predicts the disappearance of idols, kai_ ta_ xeiropoi/hta pa/nta katakru/yousin (Isa 2,18; cf Isa 10,11; 31,7). Reflecting the same ideas as we have already seen in Isaiah 404819, Isaiah predicts that Moab's idols (ta_ xeiropoi/hta au)th=j) will not help her (Isa 16,12). Similar statements are made for Egypt (Isa 19,1) and Babylon (Isa 21,9). Isaiah mocks those who build and worship idols, i.e., things made with or by hand, e)poi/hsan xeiropoi/hta (Isa 46,6). Daniel also uses this term for idols (cf. Dan 5,4; 5,23; 6,28). In almost every use of this term in the Scriptures of Israel, the term xeiropoi/htoj that literally means "something made with hands or by hand" is used metaphorically for idols. Since there are temples for the gods, but the true God does not, indeed cannot, dwell in a hand-made temple, and the true God cannot be represented by an idol (xeiropoi/htoj), the Athenians worship God ignorantly. No one familiar with the Scriptures of Israel would miss echoes of these common scriptural themes and Luke's audience would surely have heard these scriptural echoes regarding items built with the hands, all of which are inappropriate or insufficient for God.

c) God is the Giver, not the Recipient: Acts 17,25
Paul continues to echo scriptural traditions in Acts 17,25. God has need of nothing but has in fact given to all creatures life and breath and all things. Paul's wording, didou_j pa=si zwh_n kai_ pnoh_n kai_ ta_ pa/nta, is similar to that of Isa 42,5, didou_j pnoh_n tw|= law|= tw|= e)p' au)th=j kai_ pneu=ma toi=j patou=sin au)th/n. Ps 50,7-13, which states that if God wanted something, he would take it himself and needs nothing from any human parallels conceptually Paul's statement that God is neither served by men nor needs anything from them. The creation account in Genesis states that God gave the breath of life to the first human (Gen 2,7), and that forms part of the echoed tradition in Paul's speech. Acts 17,24-25 thus echoes scriptural motifs throughout, even though they may be presented in a manner that is accessible to Paul's Gentile audience20.

d) God is Sovereign over Humans: Acts 17,26
Continuing intertextual echoes of Scripture, Paul asserts in Acts 17,26 that God has made from one human all humans, and placed them on the earth. God has established time periods and boundaries for people. Paul's statement echoes the thought of Genesis 2,7-8, which says that God made a human and set him in the garden of Eden. From him, all people came, as shown by the genealogy in Genesis 5, which speaks of individuals, and Genesis 10, which speaks of the beginning of peoples, "these are the nations of the sons of Noah according to their generations" (Gen 10,32). Paul's wording here likely emphasizes the "universality of humankind's relationship to God"21, since Paul stresses that all nations came from one man who was made by God. The phrase "face of the earth" (prosw/pou th=j gh=j) is common in the Scriptures of Israel22, though often in a negative sense (cf. Gen 4,14; 6,7). It is used in a neutral sense in Deuteronomy, where God's election of Israel is described: "all the nations upon the face of the earth (e)pi) prosw/pou th=j gh=j)" (Deut 7,6). Paul's statement that God made humans to dwell upon the face of the earth23 is similar to Gen 11,9b: "and there the Lord God dispersed them upon the face of all the earth (e)pi_ pro/swpon pa/shj th=j gh=j)". Paul next says in Acts 17,26b that God has fixed the times and boundaries of human existence, o(ri/saj prostetagme/nouj kairou_j kai_ ta_j o(roqesi//aj th=j katoiki/aj au)tw=n. Their epochs and geographic boundaries are determined by God. In addition to Genesis 10, which describes the boundaries of nations, the thought of Acts 17,26 is expressed in Deut 32,8: "For the most high divided the nations as he separated the sons of Adam; he established regions for the nations (o#ria e)qnw=n)". The wording of Acts 17,26, then, echoes scriptural traditions regarding God's creation of humans from one man and God's establishing of time periods and boundaries for nations. Since Luke regarded Moses as a prophet, echoing a theme from Deuteronomy is also an echo of a prophetic tradition. (Cf. Acts 3,21-24, which connects Moses to the prophet in 3,21, and refers to a "prophet" like Moses who would arise after Moses).

e) Seek God, and He will be Found: Acts 17,27
Acts 17,27 echoes the common scriptural motif of seeking God (zhtei=n to_n qeo/n), because he is near to those who seek him24, and will be found (eu#roien). Israel is told many times to seek YHWH25. The same vocabulary and concept is seen when Moses tells the people that if they seek God in their time of trouble because they have forsaken God, they will find him, zhth/sete e)kei= ku/rion to_n qeo_n u(mw=n kai_ eu(rh/sete o#tan e)kzhth/shte au)to_n (Deut 4,29). It is important to note that this statement is made in a prophetic context, which forms part of the basis of the "Deuteronomic history"26. The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles refer to seeking God several times, e.g., "now give your hearts and souls to seek the Lord your God (tou= zhth=sai tw|= kuri/w| qew|= u(mw=n) (1 Chr 22,19a). Using the same key verbs as Paul does, Solomon is told to seek God with all his heart and he will find him (e)a_n zhth/sh|j au)to/n eu(reqh/setai/ soi) (1 Chr 28,9b)27. Seeking God is also mentioned several times in Ezra28. The psalmists also call for people to seek God29. Ps 9,25 condemns sinners who do not seek God (ou)k e)kzhth/sei ou)k e!stin o( qeo_j e)nw/pion au)tou=) (Ps 10,4 MT)30. Ps 13,2 expresses an idea similar to Acts 17,27, saying that God looks for people who seek him (e)kzhtw=n to_n qeo/n).
The prophets of Israel also call upon people to seek God. Through Isaiah God calls people to seek him while he may be found: zhth/sate to_n qeo_n kai_ e)n tw|= eu(ri/skein au)to_n (Isa 55,6). In Isa 58,2, God rebukes those who seek (zhtou=sin) him with wrong motives. The implication of this verse is that seeking God and drawing near to him is a good thing, even though Israel is only doing so superficially. Hosea prophesies that Israel will return to God and seek him, oi( ui(oi_ Israhl kai_ e)pizhth/sousin ku/rion to_n qeo_n (Hos 3,5). Amos calls on Israel to seek God, e)kzhth/sate to_n ku/rion (Amos 5,6). Paul's words echo the words of Israel's prophets in directing the Athenians to seek God.

f) Idols are Nothing: Acts 17,29
Acts 17,29 resumes the echoes of the anti-idol polemic in the Scriptures of Israel. Deut 4,28-29 contrasts the future idolatry of Israel with the seeking of God that shall come afterwards. The wording of Psalm 113 parallels closely Paul's polemic. The logic of Acts 17,29 is based on a sequence of assertions. First, humans are God's offspring. Since humans are the works of God, nothing that humans can make can represent God. If this is so, then nothing that such lesser beings can make can equal the superior God who made them. Since humans are like God, and humans are not like any material thing, God is not like any material representation, be it stone, silver or gold, all of which are lesser than humans. Both the psalmist (ei!dwla tw=n e)qnw=n a)rgu/rion kai_ xrusi/on) and Paul (xrusw|= h@ a)rgu/rw| h@ li/qw|, xara/gmati te/xnhj) assert the inferiority of images made of gold and silver. Paul's statement especially echoes the anti-idol polemic of Isaiah. Isa 40,18-20 says that no likeness can be made of God: "to what will you liken the Lord and to what likeness will you liken him?" Like Paul, Isaiah notes that gold and silver are used for idols (mh_ ei)ko/na e)poi/hsen te/ktwn h@ xrusoxo/oj xwneu/saj xrusi/on) (Isa 40,18-19), but should not be used for the true God31. (Cf. the similar vocabulary and polemic in Isa 46,5-6). Isa 44,9-20 also expressesthe same scriptural tradition. Isa 44,19 particularly mocks the construction of idols, noting that one who builds idols cuts down trees, and uses them both for fire and for an idol. Such an idol is obviously not a real god nor worthy of homage as the one true God, who made us all, is due. Paul's message then at several points reflects and recalls the message of the prophet Isaiah in condemning the attempt to make an image to represent God.

g) God will Judge People in the Future: Acts 17,31
Paul's assertion that God is going to judge the world in Acts 17,31 also echoes a common scriptural tradition. Paul asserts that God has set a day when he will judge the world in righteousness. This echoes the words of the psalmists:

Ps 9,9   Ps 95,13b   Ps 97,9   Acts 17,31
kai_ au/to_j krinei=   o#ti e_rxetai kri=nai   o#ti h!kei kri=nai th_n   e!sthsen h(me/ran e)n h||
    th_n gh=n krinei=   gh|n krinei=   me/llei kri/nein
th_n oi)koume/nhn e)n   th_n oi)koume/nhn e)n   th_n oi)koume/nhn e)n   th_n oi)koume/nhn e)n
dikaiosu/nh|   dikaiosu/nh=|   dikaiosu/nh|   dikaiosu/nh|

These psalms all state that God will judge the world in righteousness. Paul's words stand firmly within this biblical tradition.
In each of the verses examined above, scriptural intertexts or traditions are echoed. These range from the creation account in Genesis to the anti-idol polemic of Isaiah. The pervasiveness of the scriptural traditions, which reverberate throughout Paul's speech, are too ubiquitous to be merely stylistic or simply "parallel" to the Scriptures of Israel. If these echoes are intentional, what are they used for, besides being part of Paul's argument? Before attempting to answer this question, let me stress the significance of the question. I am arguing that the Scriptures of Israel was not simply a source for intertextual echoes in Paul's speech or used merely to give it a biblical flavor. There is much more going on in Luke's narrative strategy that goes well beyond simply using Genesis or Isaiah or the Psalms for sources. What is this larger strategy?

3. The Function of the Scriptures of Israel in Paul's Areopagus Speech

The answer lies, I believe, in viewing these intertextual echoes through the narrative concept of "framing in discourse". The concept of framing in discourse, discussed by Deborah Tannen32, is the notion that the way a narrative is introduced and presented provides clues as to how to understand the narrative or creates expectations on the part of the audience regarding the ensuing narrative. For example, the familiar words, "it was a dark and stormy night", prepare the audience for a detective murder mystery or the like. The phrase "once upon a time", when read by a "competent reader", i.e., someone with the necessary background assumed by the author, would lead the reader to expect a fairy tale. These two introductory phrases have a very different effect, and create very different expectations for an audience than, say, a news report that begins with the words, "Here are our top stories". The first example leads an audience to expect a specific genre of fiction. The last phrase leads an audience to expect the reporting of actual events that have just happened. Since framing in discourse is a basic part of how narration, including dialogue, is structured, it is only natural to look for framing in discourse in Paul's Areopagus speech.
So how does Luke frame his discourse about Paul's experience at Athens? In Acts 17,16, we read that as Paul walked around Athens, he was provoked by all the idols. One can find similar statements in the Scriptures of Israel. 1 Kgs 16,13 records that God was provoked by the idols of the people. (Cf. 1 Kgs 16,26; 2 Kgs 17,16-17; Jer 8,19). This is not to suggest that Paul is standing in the place of God, but that to speak of one being provoked by idols is a well-known concept in the Scriptures of Israel. This means that the narrative context of Paul's speech begins with something common in the Scriptures of Israel: being provoked by idols. Then Paul begins his speech and immediately starts with echoes of scriptural traditions. Since the narrative context of Paul's speech begins with scriptural echoes, and his speech is pervaded by them, from a narrative perspective Luke's discourse about Paul's speech in Athens exemplifies framing in discourse via echoes of scriptural intertexts. When Luke's audience first encounters Acts 17,16, some of them at least will recall the background in the Scriptures of Israel concerning God, or the prophets or kings being provoked or grieved over the idols of the Israelites. This would lead Luke's audience to expect a narrative about condemnation of idolatry. When Paul is presented as saying the same kinds of things that Israel's prophets from the past said about idols, Luke's audiences will naturally interpret Paul's speech, based on this "prophetic" discursive framing as anti-idol polemic in the mold of the prophets of old33. Luke has purposely composed his narrative to frame his discourse with scriptural echoes, especially those that point to the contrast between pagan worship and conceptions of God, and proper worship and correct understanding of the one true God. Since Luke provides this framing in discourse through the Scriptures of Israel, his audience will be led to expect a similar prophetic condemnation of pagan worship and beliefs about the (false) gods. At every turn, Paul echoes the traditional, scriptural concepts that are used by Israelite prophets in their condemnation of idolatry. Therefore, on a narrative level, Luke's audience will be led to interpret Paul's speech as the same type of anti-idol prophetic critique. This discursive framing guides Luke's audience in how to read the story of Paul at Athens and in how to understand Paul's speech generically. Having established that Luke uses the Scriptures of Israel, through framing in discourse, to lead his audience to expect Paul's speech to be an instance of prophetic anti-idol polemic, the next question is, Why would Luke do this?

a) Scriptural Echoes and Continuity through Framing in Discourse
Luke takes this approach in order to show continuity between Paul's message and the message of the prophets. The oracles of the prophets against idolatry teach that idols are false gods. Paul argues that idols are not the true God, but that the Athenians are ignorant of the true God. The prophets assert that God created everything, and therefore cannot dwell in a temple. Paul argues that God created everything and cannot therefore dwell in a temple. The prophets predict a coming judgment by God against those who seek idols. Paul promises a day when God will judge those who seek idols. These points of similarity, and the characterization of Paul's speech as the anti-idol polemic of Israelite prophets, means that Paul's speech stands in the same stream of scriptural tradition as the prophetic critiques made by Isaiah, Jeremiah and other prophets concerning idols. These connections between Paul's speech and that of Israel's prophets of old show a continuity in message and emphases between Israel's prophetic oracles and Paul's speech.
Also arguing that Luke was concerned with continuity between Israel in the past and Christians in his day, G.W. Trompf has shown that Luke, like Polybius and other Hellenistic historiographers, built "recurrence" and "reenactment" into his narrative. Luke crafted his narrative to present events in Luke-Acts as reenactments of events in the Scriptures of Israel. According to Trompf, Luke was not simply interested in fleeting allusions to past parallels, or making orderly pesharim on long sequences in the Scriptures, or using "prophecy fulfillment" to authenticate Jesus. Rather, "Luke was fundamentally interested in...directly historical connections as an historian of the Hellenistic period". Luke wrote as though historical events, which he saw as divinely guided, had their own interconnections "between events amounting to the virtual reenactment of special happenings or the repetition of an earlier stage of history in a later one"34. Trompf demonstrates that this same notion of recurrence may be found in historians in the Scriptures of Israel. The Deuteronomist, for example, presents Moses as a prophet in Deuteronomy, and shows prophets after Moses, particularly Elijah, acting similarly. The Chronicler shows recurrence in numerous ways, including the pattern of the transfer of leadership, first from Moses to Joshua, and later to Solomon from David. Trompf asserts that when Luke, following earlier historians, showed these recurrences in his narrative, he was "writing historically by his lights". Luke used this approach of showing events in his narrative as reenactments to show their significance, which "was integral to his historiographical enterprise, not just a passing theological reflection over and above his narrative"35. Ancient historians, says Trompf, worked out such connections with great seriousness, as these connections brought cohesion and significance to their narratives. Luke, quite familiar with this practice in the Old Testament, used it himself to show continuity between Christians and Israelites. Of relevance to this study is Trompf's emphasis on Jesus (and his followers) as prophets, standing "in line with the ancient prophets" through reenactment36. Trompf does not deal with Paul's speech at the Areopagus, but it is appropriate, based on the connections with Israel's prophets that I have already identified in Acts 17, to see Paul's anti-idol polemic on Mars Hill as a reenactment that connects Paul's preaching with that of Israel's prophets in the past. Trompf's work is important for showing that Luke did not create such connections simply for stylistic reasons. They have significance for Luke's narrative and we should take them seriously as evidence that Luke's narrative intends to establish continuity between Israel's past and "the things accomplished among us".

b) The Function of Continuity in Luke's Narrative of Paul's Speech
This conclusion that Paul's speech stands in continuity with prophetic oracles in the past is important for understanding howLuke has deployed the Scriptures of Israel in this speech. If we read Luke's narrative as historiography, then the role of the pervasive intertextuality I have identified becomes transparent. This is because one common goal of Hellenistic historiographers was to show continuity between people and events in the past and people and events in the present. The reason is that the historiographer validated the people and events of the present by their continuity with people and events in the past. For these writers, the past is used for reaffirmation and validation. David Lowenthal states that "the past validates present attitudes and actions by affirming their resemblances to former ones. Previous usage seals with approval what is now done. Historical precedent legitimates what exists today"37. By looking back to the revered past, and showing how the present is like it, historians validate present events. So, by showing that Paul's speech shares continuity with the sacred oracles of Israel's prophets in the past, and reflects the provocation of God and God's servants towards idols in Israel's revered past, Luke uses the Scriptures of Israel, through framing in discourse, to validate or legitimate Paul's message.
This validation is important because it implies that Paul's interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel, both here and elsewhere, is correct, over against other groups that claim to have the correct interpretation. This enables Luke to use the Scriptures to legitimate the faith of his audience, as they have believed the message concerning Jesus, which Paul preached. Since Paul's message is legitimated, those who believe this message are legitimated.

c) Implications for Luke's Use of Scripture Elsewhere
This conclusion has important ramifications for the study of Luke's use of the Scriptures of Israel. First, this text shows that it is necessary to have a larger database than some of the quotations and obvious allusions to the Scriptures in Luke-Acts to determine how Luke used the Scriptures of Israel. It is obviously appropriate to consider quotations, but my study demonstrates the need to go beyond only some quotations, such as those of purported Christological significance38. Should not Luke's use of Scripture in Paul's address at Mars Hill be considered in determining how the Scriptures function in Luke's narrative? Granted, intertextual echoes do not supersede or trump quotations, but can we say that we have truly studied Luke's use of the Scriptures of Israel if we leave out data that has importance for this question? This speech, and by implication, other places in Luke-Acts where Luke has used the Scriptures of Israel through both quotations and intertextual echoes, that are not generally considered in assessing Luke's use of Scripture, ought to be included in such a study.
Second, Luke's use of the Scriptures in Paul's speech shows that we should not accept without questioning the conclusion that Luke uses the Scriptures for Christology or promise-fulfillment. He may do this in some places, but when it is clear that he has used them otherwise, we should give attention to this evidence in forming a view about Luke's approach. I have argued elsewhere that at key points in Luke's narrative, he uses the Scriptures of Israel not for Christology but principally for ecclesiology, to speak to the identity of the true people of God39. The results of examining Paul's Areopagus speech strengthen this thesis because here too, Luke uses the Scriptures of Israel, through framing in discourse, to validate Paul's message and implicitly, the faith of those who believe Paul's message. Since they are validated in this way, they must be the true people of God. Given that Luke's use of the Scriptures of Israel in Paul's Areopagus speech serves to legitimate the beliefs of the followers of the Way, his deployment of the Scriptures in Acts 17,16-34 relates to the people of God, or ecclesiology, not for Christology or to show promise-fulfillment. This fact should be considered in future studies that assess the function of the Scriptures of Israel in Luke-Acts. Paul's Areopagus speech is only one speech in Luke's narrative, but the results of this study show that many other texts should be considered afresh for the way the Scriptures are deployed in them by Luke and what overall function scriptural quotations, allusions or echoes serve in those texts.
A brief word should be said about the function of Paul's speech on Mars Hill. Irrespective of one's judgment regarding the relationship between Luke's narrative and an actual speech-event at Mars Hill, it remains the case that Luke has framed his discourse that includes the speech with scriptural echoes. I do not think that Paul's original speech, whatever may be said of it, sought to legitimate his message as standing in continuity with the message of the prophets of Israel. To achieve such a result, Paul's audience would have had to be much more conversant in the Scriptures of Israel than is likely. In its original setting the speech most likely was an instance of Paul's fulfilling his commission to preach the good news about Jesus to the Gentiles. Being a Jew, steeped in the Scriptures of Israel, his speech was built upon scriptural themes but presented in a way that would be meaningful to his elite Gentile audience. The speech, as Paul spoke it, was therefore a culturally-sensitive presentation of the gospel. Luke is responsible for the speech's present shape and function within his narrative, and thus responsible for the way the Scriptures of Israel are deployed in the speech. Therefore, it is appropriate to consider how Luke has used the Scriptures of Israel in this speech in an effort to understand how Luke has used them throughout Luke-Acts.

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This study has demonstrated that, far from Paul's Areopagus speech merely having parallels with the Scriptures of Israel, Luke's summary of Paul's message is replete with echoes of well-known scriptural traditions, especially those reflected by Israel's prophets. These intertextual echoes are used by Luke as part of a narrative technique known as framing in discourse, which provides clues to an audience as to how to understand the ensuing narrative or creates for the audience expectations about what sort of narrative they are about to encounter. This discursive framing points to continuity between Paul's message, and prophetic oracles from Israel's Scriptures that emphasize anti-idol polemic. This continuity within a historiographical work serves to validate the message of Paul as from God and implicitly validates the faith of Luke's audience who believe the message of the gospel. Luke's use of the Scriptures of Israel in Paul's speech, since they function to validate the faith of Luke's audience as God's people, is ecclesiological.


1 I am not considering Luke's characterization of others in Luke-Acts as prophets. For this, see D. MOESSNER "'The Christ Must Suffer': New Light on the Jesus Peter, Stephen, Paul Parallels in Luke-Acts", NT 28 (1986) 225, who argues that "the characters of Jesus, Peter, Stephen and Paul are conceived of as prophets. Peter, Stephen and Paul are "Deuteronomistic rejected prophets" (227). See also D.P. MOESSNER, "Paul and the Pattern of the Prophet Like Moses in Acts", SBL Seminar Papers, 1983 (SBLSP 22; Chico, CA 1983) 202-212, who argues that in the Lukan Journey narrative, Jesus is presented as a rejected Deuteronomistic prophet, and the parallels in Paul's journey to Rome show that Luke viewed Paul in the same way.
2 N.A. BECK, "The Lukan Writer's Stories about the Call of Paul", SBL Seminar Papers, 1983 (SBLSP 22; Chico, CA 1983) 214, states that the Lukan writer's presentation of Paul's conversion was probably also influenced by Dan 10,2-21.
3 This characterization of Paul as a prophet is strengthened later in Acts. For example, in Acts 26,16-18 Paul describes his commission in terms reminiscent of Ezek 2,1-2 (Ezekiel's commission), Jer 1,9 (Jeremiah's commission) and Isa 42,6-7, 26-27 and 49,6 (commissioning of the Servant of the Lord), and in Acts 28,25-28 where Paul first cites Isa 6,9-10 and then alludes to Isa 40,5. See H.W.M. VAN DE SANDT, "Acts 28:28: No Salvation for the People of Israel? An Answer in the Perspective of the LXX", ETL 70 (1994) 349.
4 See, for example, H. KLLING, Geoffenbartes Geheimnis. Eine Auslegung von Apostelgeschichte 17, 16-34 (AThANT 79; Zurich 1993); C. CARAGOUNIS, "Divine Revelation", ERT 12 (1988) 226-239; and B. GRTNER, The Areopagus Speech and Natural Revelation (Uppsala 1955).
5 J. FITZMYER, The Acts of the Apostle. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (New York 1998) 608.
6 KLLING, Geoffenbartes, 54.
7 I am using the term "intertextual echo" in much the same way as it is used by R.B. HAYS, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven, CT 1989).
8 For a similar argument based on other parts of Luke-Acts, see K.D. LITWAK, Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts. Telling the History of God's People Intertextually (Ph.D. diss., University of Bristol 2003).
9 See also D.W. PAO, Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus (Tbingen 2000) 193.
10 See M. SOARDS, The Speeches in Acts. Their Content, Context, and Concerns (Louisville, KY 1994) 202 who states that the speeches in Acts "seem to bring the past into play in order to establish simply alluding to segments of Scripture", including Paul's speech in Acts 17,16-31. Soards asserts that the "reference to the prophets [in speeches] functions to identify testimony to the validity of the speaker's point(s)", 202.
11 B. WINTER, "On Introducing Gods to Athens: An Alternative Reading of Acts 17:19-20", TB 47 (1996) 80-85, argues, rightly I think, that Paul is brought before the council of the Areopagus because the Athenians understand him to be the herald of a new deity. The addition of a new deity to the Athenian pantheon must be officially approved by the council of the Areopagus. Generally a herald had to provide funds for the purchase of land for a temple and an altar for sacrifice, and show what benefit the god has provided the Athenians. Paul, according to Winter, argues that none of this is needed since God does not live in a temple, does not need sacrifices, and has helped the Athenians by bringing salvation and the hope of resurrection through Jesus.
12 J.B. POLHILL, Acts (Nashville, TN 1992) 370. See also A.-M. DUBARLE, "Le Discours L'Aropage (Actes 17, 22-31) et Son Arrire-Plan Biblique", RSPT 57 (1973) 578-581.
13 This means that it is not necessary to hunt for the specific text that Paul's speech alludes to in a given passage. Rather, it is likely valid to hear many intertextual echoes from the Scriptures of Israel throughout this speech. I am not contending, therefore, that in any specific statement in Paul's speech that Paul/Luke necessarily had a particular verse in mind.
14 See J.B. GREEN, "The Problem of a Beginning: Israel's Scriptures in Luke 1-2", BBR 4 (1994) 61-85; and LITWAK, Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts,91-150.
15 See DUBARLE, "Le Discours", 580.
16 It is reasonable to see echoes of Isaiah here as Isaiah's words are explicitly cited elsewhere in Luke-Acts, e.g., Luke 3,4-6; 4,17-19; 8,10; Acts 13,47. These clear quotations from Isaiah, especially Isaiah 40-49, justify seeing more subtle, intertextual echoes of Isaiah in Paul's speech at the Areopagus. Dubarle ("Le Discours", 581) argues that the order of the elements in Paul's speech follows the order in Isaiah 45, although it integrates other scriptural texts as well. I find his parallels suggestive and helpful for seeing the echoed traditions behind Paul's words, but am not convinced that Isaiah 45 actually provided the order for the statements in Acts 17,22-31.
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-jdischer Summarien der Geschichte Israels (Gttingen 2001) 211, this is part of Luke's critique of temples and thus of Gentile religiousness.
18 See DUBARLE, "Le Discours", 587; R. PESCH, Die Apostelgeschichte (Apg 13-28) (EKK; Zrich 1986) II, 136; F.F. BRUCE, "Paul's Use of the Old Testament in Acts", Tradition and Interpretation in the New Testament. Essays in Honor of E. Earle Ellis for His 60th Birthday, (eds. G.F. HAWTHORNE 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.
19 Most uses of xeiropoih/toj appear in Isaiah, and in each instance in Isaiah the word refers to idols. See PAO, New Isaianic Exodus, 195.
20 See further J. JERVELL, Die Apostelgeschichte (Gttingen 1998) 447.
21 POLHILL, Acts, 374.
22 Cf. Gen 2,6; Jer 32,12 (LXX). See F.F. BRUCE, The Acts of the Apostles. The Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI 1968) 337.
23 The opposite is indicated in Zeph 1,3, kai_ e)carw= tou_j a)nqrw/pouj a)po_ prosw/pou th=j gh=j le/gei ku/rioj.
24 JERVELL, Apostelgeschichte, 447 argues that 17,26 and 17,27 form one long statement. God made all people from one man, and set their time epochs and boundaries so that they might seek him.
25 Cf. Isa 58,2; Jer 50,4; Ezek 20,40; 34,11; Dan 9,3; Hos 3,5; Amos 5,14.
26 The main occurrences of the command to seek the Lord are found in the prophetic literature, Psalms and 2 Chronicles. See KLLING, Geoffenbartes, 104.
27 Cf. 2 Chr 14,4; 15,12-13; 19,3; 26,5; 30,19; 34,3.
28 Cf. Ezra 4,2; 6,21; 8,21-22.
29 Cf. Pss 62,1; 68,7, 33; 69,5.
30 It may be noted that the sense of the LXX and MT are different, the MT lacking the idea of provoking the Lord, but simply "the guilty in the greatness of his anger/face does not seek [God]".
31 PAO, Isaianic New Exodus, 196 asserts that "in Acts 17:29 one...finds the climax of this piece of anti-idol polemic that should be understood within the wider framework of the anti-idol polemic in Isaiah".
32 "What Is a Frame? Surface Evidence for Underlying Expectations", Framing in Discourse (ed. D. TANNEN) (Oxford 1993) 15-56.
33 This is not meant to suggest that there are specific categories of framing in discourse, including a prophetic one. Framing in discourse does not come in categories but is a narrative strategy to help an audience understand a narrative. Therefore, when I refer to Luke's discursive framing in this speech as "prophetic", I am only observing that in this particular account, and in this particular speech, Luke uses intertextual echoes of prophetic anti-idol polemic to frame his discourse. This is not like form criticism, where there are allegedly a small number of categories into which every gospel pericope must fit.
34 G.W. TROMPF, The Idea of Historical Recurrence in Western Thought. From Antiquity to the Reformation (Berkeley 1979) 129.
35 TROMPF, Historical Recurrences, 135-136.
36 TROMPF, Historical Recurrences, 142.
37 D. LOWENTHAL, The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge 1985) 40.
38 See chapter one of LITWAK, "Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts" for a summary of the approaches to Luke's deployment of the Scriptures of Israel.
39 LITWAK, "Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts"