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unknown god, an

A designation referred to in an inscription on an altar seen by Paul in Athens (Acts 17:23), which he then used as the basis for his Areopagus (or Mars Hill) sermon (Acts 17:22-31). It was apparently a custom in the ancient world for altars to be dedicated to “unknown gods,” lest one be forgotten and thus insulted. Such inscriptions have been found, but only in the plural, “gods.”