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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Acts 17:18 Paul Socrates Xenophon Plato

The question, is there an allusion to Xenophon’s Memorabilia 1.1 is raised in every respectable commentary on Acts, e.g., F.F. Bruce NICNT Acts 2nd Ed. p131n5 mentions also Plato Euthyphro 3B, Apology 24B-C.  H. A. W. Meyer p329, H. Alford p193, C. K. Barrett p830. 

The wording isn’t identical.

Xeno Mem 1.1

… ἀδικεῖ Σωκράτης οὓς μὲν ἡ πόλις νομίζει θεοὺς οὐ νομίζων, ἕτερα δὲ καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρων·

Socrates is accused of a double sided theological error, he doesn’t affirm the conventional gods  ἡ πόλις νομίζει θεοὺς οὐ νομίζων and he brings in other new deities ἕτερα δὲ καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρων. Note the distinction between δαιμόνια and θεοὺς, perhaps implying that Socrates replaced the important gods recognized by the society ἡ πόλις νομίζει with inferior dieties δαιμόνια. The only significant word shared between Acts and and Xeno is δαιμόνιον. If Paul is also being accused of this double error, it isn’t explicit in the words quoted in Acts 17:18.

Acts 17:18 τινὲς δὲ καὶ τῶν Ἐπικουρείων καὶ Στοϊκῶν φιλοσόφων συνέβαλλον αὐτῷ, καί τινες ἔλεγον· τί ἂν θέλοι ὁ σπερμολόγος οὗτος λέγειν; οἱ δέ· ξένων δαιμονίων δοκεῖ καταγγελεὺς εἶναι, ὅτι τὸν Ἰησοῦν καὶ τὴν ἀνάστασιν εὐηγγελίζετο.

Acts 17:18 RSV Some also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers met him. And some said, “What would this babbler say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities” — because he preached Jesus and the resurrection.

 ξένων δαιμονίων δοκεῖ καταγγελεὺς εἶναι
“He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities [strange deities]”
ξένων δαιμονίων foreign divinities -or- strange deities

Memorabilia 1:1f
 Πολλάκις ἐθαύμασα τίσι ποτὲ λόγοις Ἀθηναίους ἔπεισαν οἱ γραψάμενοι Σωκράτην ὡς ἄξιος εἴη θανάτου τῇ πόλει. ἡ μὲν γὰρ γραφὴ κατ' αὐτοῦ τοιάδε τις ἦν· ἀδικεῖ Σωκράτης οὓς μὲν ἡ πόλις νομίζει θεοὺς οὐ νομίζων, ἕτερα δὲ καινὰ δαιμόνια εἰσφέρων· ἀδικεῖ δὲ καὶ τοὺς νέους διαφθείρων.

I have often wondered by what arguments those who drew up the indictment against Socrates could persuade the Athenians that his life was forfeit to the state. The indictment against him was to this effect: Socrates is guilty of rejecting the gods acknowledged by the state and of bringing in strange deities: he is also guilty of corrupting the youth.

Xenophon. E. C. Marchant. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA; William Heinemann, Ltd., London. 1923.

Plato Euthyphro 3A—C

[3α] μὲν ἡμᾶς ἐκκαθαίρει τοὺς τῶν νέων τὰς βλάστας διαφθείροντας, ὥς φησιν: ἔπειτα μετὰ τοῦτο δῆλον ὅτι τῶν πρεσβυτέρων ἐπιμεληθεὶς πλείστων καὶ μεγίστων ἀγαθῶν αἴτιος τῇ πόλει γενήσεται, ὥς γε τὸ εἰκὸς συμβῆναι ἐκ τοιαύτης ἀρχῆς ἀρξαμένῳ.

I hope it may be so, Socrates; but I fear the opposite may result. For it seems to me that he begins by injuring the State at its very heart, when he undertakes to harm you. Now tell me, what does he say you do that corrupts the young?

[3β]ἄτοπα, ὦ θαυμάσιε, ὡς οὕτω γ᾽ ἀκοῦσαι. φησὶ γάρ με ποιητὴν εἶναι θεῶν, καὶ ὡς καινοὺς ποιοῦντα θεοὺς τοὺς δ᾽ ἀρχαίους οὐ νομίζοντα ἐγράψατο τούτων αὐτῶν ἕνεκα, ὥς φησιν.

[3b]Absurd things, my friend, at first hearing. For he says I am a maker of gods; and because I make new gods and do not believe in the old ones, he indicted me for the sake of these old ones, as he says.

[3ξ] ὅταν τι λέγω ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ περὶ τῶν θείων, προλέγων αὐτοῖς τὰ μέλλοντα, καταγελῶσιν ὡς μαινομένου: καίτοι οὐδὲν ὅτι οὐκ ἀληθὲς εἴρηκα ὧν προεῖπον, ἀλλ᾽ ὅμως φθονοῦσιν ἡμῖν πᾶσι τοῖς τοιούτοις. ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲν αὐτῶν χρὴ φροντίζειν, ἀλλ᾽ ὁμόσε ἰέναι.

[3c] when I say anything in the assembly about divine things and foretell the future to them. And yet there is not one of the things I have foretold that is not true; but they are jealous of all such men as you and I are. However, we must not be disturbed, but must come to close quarters with them.


Compared with Xeno Mem 1.1, the accusation in Plat. Euthyph. 3b is even more unlike Acts 17:18. Socrates claims he was accused of being a maker of [new] gods.

φησὶ γάρ με ποιητὴν εἶναι θεῶν
For he says I am a maker of gods

καὶ ὡς καινοὺς ποιοῦντα θεοὺς
because I make new gods

τοὺς δ᾽ ἀρχαίους οὐ νομίζοντα
and do not believe in the old ones

The last clause shares an important word with Zeno νομίζω

Excerpt from the LSJ article on νομίζω:

*II. [select] own, acknowledge, consider as, “ὡς δούλους ν. τινάς” Hdt.2.1; “τὸν προέχοντα ἔτεσι ν. ὡς πατέρα” Pl.Lg.879c: ὡς is freq. omitted, “ὄμμα γὰρ δόμων νομίζω δεσπότου παρουσίαν” A.Pers.169; “τοὺς κακοὺς χρηστοὺς ν.” S.OT610, cf. Ant.183, El.1317; “τοὺς αὐτοὺς φίλους νομιῶ καὶ ἐχθρούς” IG12.71.20; “νομίσαι χρὴ ταῦτα μυστήρια” Ar. Nu.143; θεὸν ν. τινά believe in one as a god, “σὺ Ἔρωτα οὐ θεὸν νομίζεις” Pl.Smp.202d; “θεὰν οὐ τὴν Ἀναίδειαν, ἀλλὰ τὴν Αἰδῶ ν.” X.Smp.8.35; ν. τούτους [θεούς] believe in these [as gods], Hdt.4.59; “οὓς ἡ πόλις ν. θεοὺς οὐ νομίζων” X.Mem.1.1.1, Ap.10, Pl.Ap.24b; “τοὺς ἀρχαίους οὐ ν.” Id.Euthphr.3b; but ν. θεοὺς εἶναι believe that there are gods, Id.Ap. 26c, Lg.886a (cf. infr. 4): without εἶναι, δίκην καὶ θεοὺς μόνον ν. [ἄνθρωπος] Id.Mx.237d; τὸ παράπαν θεοὺς οὐδαμῶς ν. to be an atheist, Id.Lg.885c, cf. 908c, Ap.18c, Prt.322a; “θεοὺς ν. οὐδαμοῦ” A.Pers. 497:—Pass., to be deemed, reputed, considered, “οἷς τὸ πέλειν τε καὶ οὐκ εἶναι ταὐτὸν νενόμισται” Parm.6.8; “Ἕλληνες ἤρξαντο νομισθῆναι” Hdt. 2.51; οἱ νομιζόμενοι μὲν υἱεῖς, μὴ ὄντες δέ . . D.40.47; ἡ -ομένη (v.l. ὀνομαζ-) “πολιτεία” Arist.Pol.1293b22.
2. [select] esteem, hold in honour, “χρυσὸν . . περιώσιον ἄλλων” Pi.I.5(4).2; “οὔτε θεοὺς οὔτε ἀνθρώπους ν.” Lys.12.9:—Pass., to be esteemed, Pl.Grg.466b.
3. [select] c. acc. rei, hold, believe, “ταὐτὰ περί τινος” Id.Phdr.258c, etc.; “ἐποίει ἄλλα παρ᾽ ἃ ἐνόμισεν” Id.Min.320b; ἀκοῇ ν., opp. πείρᾳ αἰσθάνεσθαι, Th.4.81.
4. [select] c. acc. et inf., deem, hold, believe that . . , πότερα νομίζεις δυστυχεῖν ἐμέ; S.OC 800, cf. OT549, X.HG3.4.11; “θεὸν νομίζουσι εἶναι τὸ πῦρ” Hdt.3.16: c. fut. inf., expect that . . , S.OT551: aor. inf. is sts. found in codd. referring to fut., “ἐνόμισαν ἐπιθέμενοι ῥᾳδίως κρατῆσαι” Th.2.3 (κρατήσειν in same phrase, Aen.Tact.2.3), cf. Th.3.24, Lys.13.6; in S. Aj.1082 the aor. inf. may be gnomic.

Plato Apology 24b … Σωκράτη φησὶν ἀδικεῖν τούς τε νέους διαφθείροντα καὶ θεοὺς οὓς ἡ πόλις νομίζει οὐ νομίζοντα, ἕτερα δὲ δαιμόνια καινά.

Plato Apology 24b … it states that Socrates is a wrongdoer because he corrupts the youth and does not believe in the gods the state believes in, but in other new spiritual beings.

Σωκράτη φησὶν ἀδικεῖν
it states that Socrates is a wrongdoer

τούς τε νέους διαφθείροντα
he corrupts the youth

θεοὺς οὓς ἡ πόλις νομίζει
the gods the state believes in

οὐ νομίζοντα
does not believe

ἕτερα δὲ δαιμόνια καινά
but in other new spiritual beings

Here we see δαιμόνια and νομίζει used again. The only wording shared with Acts 17:18 once again is δαιμόνια. 


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