(Submitted October 27, 1997)
I am an adult Sunday School teacher and I am getting ready to do a lesson
on the passage in the bible of Acts 19:35. Regarding the idol worship
of Diana. The passage references the name of Jupiter. Is this the same
Jupiter in the solar system? Also the book of Acts is dated between A.D. 61
and 63. Does this mean that Jupiter was known about even then? I am
curious to hear your response.
Please email whatever information you have regarding the planet Jupiter
and the first recorded discovery of it.
Jupiter was a Roman god, and the planet was named after him.
Perhaps the verse in the Bible doesn't refer to the planet, but
to the god.
The planet was named after the deity, who was the leader of the
Roman pantheon, which may be more relevant. A careful reading, and perhaps
comparison to the original text and other translations, may be allow you to
distinguish between the god and the gas giant in this context. Jupiter the
god is mentioned in 2 Macabees 6:2, and earlier in Acts (14:13). (KJV
Bible searches are available at
The history, or the discovery, of the planet Jupiter dates so far back
in antiquity that we can't trace it. All of the naked eye planets
were undoubtedly familiar to the earliest civilizations. The details
of the passage you refer to is well beyond our expertise. However,
there can be little doubt that the planet Jupiter was known long before
the time the passage was written.
I hope this helps!
Tim Kallman, Karen Smale, and David Palmer
for the Ask an Astrophysicist team
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