(or FAQ? or AMA?)

     Q: What's the picture of?

     A: FINALLY! Someone asks.
     The picture is of the pedestal with no statue on it, bearing the inscription, "To the Unknown God".
     Now, I'm well aware of what other historians, theologians, and commentators have written on this subject. What I'm about to tell you will contradict them all. And, yes, this is just my opinion, too, but it's an opinion based on information you, too, know all too well, information those others did not have, but which they nonetheless presumed, based an opinion on, and presented as fact even though, careful to qualify it by inserting some mention of it being theory.
     It's not theory; it's hypothesis.
     And my opinion is that the Athenians were not merely shooting in the dark, ensuring they had all their bases covered, leaving no god out of the pantheon by placing an empty pillar there. That would be completely uncharacteristic of the Athenians, who were very careful to call everything by its proper name. As near as I can tell, they never employed such a vague generalization anywhere else. One would expect to see, for example, a temple somewhere, dedicated to whatever other god(s) might have been overlooked, but we find this nowhere outside an assertion in some 'theory' that such a place existed.
     So, ...
     When Paul ignored Peter's warning, and took the Gospel to the Gentiles, the first place he went was Athens, which should tell us something about who the Gentiles really are. But, as Peter warned him, Paul was promptly arrested for disturbing the peace, and marched to the top of the Aureopagus for judgement.
     Along the way, the group passed several statues of Athenian gods: Athena, of course, Cronus, Demeter, probably some others, too, but then there was one with no statue on it. Paul stopped, and told them (paraphrasing), "Why am I being arrested for teaching a foreign religion when you already worship him whom I've come to tell you about?"
     This really threw the Athenians a curve-ball they weren't expecting, and Paul had his opening.
     For us, though, a number of questions arise. First, Paul was a Pharisee, as he told us himself, the very strictest sect of the Levitical faith (Judaism). Moreover, he was a Rabbi, and one of the rules which Rabbis must adhere to is that they can not lie, nor even dissemble (passing off opinion as fact, or, through silence, allowing someone to be deceived). So, now we have Paul telling the Athenians that their 'unknown' god is the very one Paul has come to tell them about. So, we must assume that a) Paul knew what he was talking about, and b) this unknown god is truly the same being known to Paul as Christ.
     So, what's the problem then?
     It's well known by all now that the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Persian, Akkadian, Hittite, Sumerian, Athenian, Chinese, Greek, Roman, German, Norse, and Celtic gods were planets, stars, comets, even seasons (affected by planets), and the highly educated Paul must know this. Athena, for example, is believed by most scholars to have been Venus, but by some to have been the moon. Either way, she was a planet. (I side with Venus.) On top of this, all the ancients portrayed these celestial bodies as human beings. Well, almost all. While Cronus lived a mortal life, Zeus never did. He sent his son instead.
     ALL the ancients had beliefs like this. This is not idolatry. It's what they then did about it, corrupting the teachings, that became idolatry. Thinking that their statues were actually the very gods they worshiped was idolatry. Otherwise, their teaching was correct: Celestial beings lived on earth in human form, and Paul as much as validated this belief that day. Of course, he also as much as said so in 1 Corinthians 15:35-50.
     And Joseph did, too, in D&C 88:42-62. (You *do* get the meaning of the Lord moving around the 12 servants, right?)
     And one more thing. One of those Gods was missing. They were all accounted for but one, the one after whom the hill itself had been named: Ares, Aris, Hercules, Heracles, Perseus, Perkwunos, Sussanoo, Horus, ... Mars.
     And that's whose statue was missing.
     But what planet was implied by that ?
     The red one.
     The one that comes out of the east.
     The one with a wound in his side.
     The one with the marks of the nails.


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