I taught English literature at the University of British Columbia for many years and when I retired I thought I’d finally get to read all those books that I had referred to many times in lectures and my academic writing but never actually read from cover to cover. One of those books was the Bible. So, I started with Genesis, Chapter 1 and worked my way through to the final chapter of Revelations. There was an episode in Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 17: 16-34) that really caught my attention.
It was St. Paul’s visit to Athens in 51 AD, when the news of Christianity arrived in Athens. I was amused by the reaction of the pagan philosophers, Epicureans and Stoics, to Paul’s message. They dismissed it as the ramblings of a lunatic. I remember thinking that not much had change in the sceptical attitudes of Athenians in 2000 years.
But later I wondered why Paul had never written one of his famous letters to the Athenians. Why did the Corinthians, Thessalonians, Philippians, and others receive epistles from Paul but not Athens? Then it occurred to me that perhaps he had written such a letter, but it was lost, or better still, it was suppressed. What if someone in contemporary Athens found it in the National Library and then was murdered? It seemed like the beginning of a damn good story.