IAAJAH - IGWEBUIKE: An African Journal of Arts and Humanities
Vol. 8 No. 2, 2022
PAULINE AREOPAGUS ADDRESS IN ACTS 17.16-34 AS A PARADIGM FOR CONTEXTUALIZING THE GOSPEL IN AFRICA
Abel Aor Inyaregh, Ph.D

ABSTRACT

Paul’s gospel presentation to Areopagus in Acts 17:16-34 is used as a paradigm for contextualizing the gospel in Africa. Contextual analysis is used to review the text in its given context to relate it to the contemporary situation. Contextualization captures in method and perspective the challenge of relating the Gospel to culture. The article discusses Paul and Hellenistic pluralism. Religious people have objects of worship that constitute “religion,” which relates with deity. This paper is a reading of Acts 17 through the lenses of African religious context. It examines how Paul’s description of the Athenians as “very religious” had led to educate them on, “unknown God.” The process of "contextualizing the gospel" traces back to the New Testament. Paul’s Areopagus’ speech is one of the most instructive case studies in New Testament contextualization. It surveys several aspects of Paul’s missionary communication, portraying how the formula of the speech is directed to convince an intelligent and philosophically minded Greek listeners. It depicts how Paul did not assume a combative posture, but with admirable delicacy, challenged and rectified the major positions of the Stoics and Epicureans, while being sensitive towards the Athenians. Simultaneously, Paul declines to compromise the non-negotiable gospel tenet, especially Christ’s resurrection, which challenges the Athenian worldviews. The treatise reflects on how this paradigmatic story can inform the task of incarnating the gospel in pluralistic settings like Africa today and a guide to minister to them in their own background. Consequently, contextualization of the gospel is recommended to African cultures.

Keywords: Paul’s Address, Areopagus, Gospel, Contextualization, African Culture
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