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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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(Acts 14:12-13 [Revised Version margin ‘Zeus’] 19:35 [Authorized Version and Revised Version ‘the image which fell down from Jupiter’; Revised Version margin ‘from heaven’])

The Oriental setting of the events which took place at Lystra is strongly evident in the first of these passages. The miracle of healing at once causes the barbarians to suppose that the gods had come to pay them a visit, and the impassive Barnabas is regarded as the chief. ‘True to the oriental character, the Lycaonians regarded the active and energetic preacher as the inferior, and the more silent and statuesque figure as the leader and principal’ (W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire, 1893, p. 57 n. [Note: . note.] ). It was not that such visits were supposed to be common, but a well-known legend (Ovid, Metam. viii. 626 ff.; cf. Fasti, v. 495ff.) told of such a visit, when the aged couple Philemon and Baucis had alone received the august visitors and had been suitably rewarded; this had been localized in several districts. The people cried out in the speech of Lycaonia, and the original name of the local god given by them to Barnabas has been here replaced by the Greek equivalent, Zeus. In v. 13 Codex Bezae has a slightly different phrase which reads, ‘the temple of Zeus-before-the-city.’ The participle in the phrase τοῦ ὄντος Διὸς Προπόλεως is used in a way characteristic of Acts, viz. to introduce some title or particular phrase, and we must consider that D is correct here. Zöckler (ad loc.) and Ramsay (op. cit. p. 51f.) compare an inscription at Claudiopolis which has Zeus Proastios (i.e. ‘Jupiter-before-the-town’). The title here, then, is Propoleôs, which is actually found in an inscription at Smyrna. The Temple would be outside the city proper, and it is not quite clear whether ‘the gates’ where the sacrifice was prepared were those of the Temple, or of the city, or of the dwelling-house of the apostles. It is most probable that the Temple is referred to, the gates being chosen as a special place for the offering of a special sacrifice (Ramsay).

Baur, Zeller, Overbeck, and Wendt regard the whole incident as unhistorical, since such people would rather have considered that the miracle-workers were magicians or demons. But the local legends give ample support to the text.

In 19:35 the translation should follow Revised Version margin: ‘the Image which fell down from the clear sky.’

Literature.-See R. J. Knowling, Expositor’s Greek Testament , 1900, ad loc.; A. C. McGiffert, Apostolic Age, 1897, p. 189f.

F. W. Worsley.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Jupiter'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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