December 28, 2016
We’ve been unwrapping the wisemen’s presents — the gold or the indestructible man; the frankincense or the divine atmosphere of the universe of Spirit; and this week, the myrrh or “Science as applied to humanity” (Science and Health, p. 127). Do you see a connection between the three gifts and the three omnis— the omnipotence, the omnipresence, and the omniscience? Actually, I didn’t see that connection until I started putting this third lesson together, and then I had this epiphany. (That’s some pun humor; the Feast of the Epiphany is also Three Kings Day.) The spiritual meaning of the three gifts dates back to Origen, an early Christian theologian, who divided them this way: “gold, as to a king; myrrh, as to one who was mortal; and incense, as to a God.”
I love the concept of eternal Science interpreting God to make Him knowable to man. Paul was certainly a Scientist — making God knowable with his speeches in Athens, and his writings and church-building throughout Asia Minor. Mrs. Eddy made God knowable as well. She admired the search for wisdom of Greek philosopher Socrates (470-399 BCE), and even included his hemlock cup when writing about the sacrifices of approaching the divine Principle (Science and Health, 215:17, 559:28). If Paul could quote Greek philosophers in making God understandable, then Mrs. Eddy could also compare Socrates’ sacrifice to that of later Christians. And how interesting that she combined the sacrifices of the Greeks (hemlock cup) and the Jews (bitter herbs), much as Paul also strived to be a unifier.
Below are Bible Notes from The New Oxford Annotated Bible about Paul’s missionary work in Athens:
Acts 17:18 Babbler, a term of disparagement; the Greek word is literally used in reference to birds to mean “picking up seeds,” of persons “one who makes a living by picking up scraps” (here implied of learning). . . .19. Took him, could either imply arrest or friendly escort, and Areopagus could refer either to arraignment before the Council of the Areopagus (essentially the chief Roman court in Athens) or the Areopagus hill west of the Acropolis. The request “May we know…?” suggests a more relaxed setting for discussion, though allusions to Socrates before the Areopagus court are surely intended. 21: The curiosity of the Athenians was proverbial. . . .27. God created “all nations” to search for God. That God was near to all people was a Stoic belief. 28: Although the first quotation is sometimes attributed to Epimenides, its language is probably to be associated with Posidonius (based on Plato); the second quotation is from Aratus, a Greek poet of Cilicia educated as a Stoic. In Paul’s usage, the original pantheistic sense of both quotations is reinterpreted. . . .34: The conversion of Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus court, contributes to the theme of rulers attracted to Christianity. The note about Damaris conforms to a pattern found in both the Gospel and Acts of juxtaposing characters of both genders.