The Great Gospel of John
Jesus' Precepts and Deeds through His Three Years of Teaching
Jesus near Caesarea Philippi
- Chapter 1 -
The oracle of Delphi.
(Julius:) "Among the Greeks and the Romans there were always men who, even if they were not Jews and had not been educated in their schools of prophets, nonetheless had a divine inspiration and recognized it as such.
Once when Croesus, King of the Lydians, wanted to wage a war against the Persians, it mattered very much to him to find out in advance whether the war would turn out favorably or unfavorably for him. But who would shed light on this for him? He thought to himself for a while, and said, "There is any number of oracles; no doubt one of them will surely be able to tell me the truth! But who will decide for me afterwards which oracle has told the truth? Ha!" he thought to himself again, and said, "I will sound out the oracles beforehand and then we shall see which oracle is useful!"
After this he took a lamb and a tortoise, cut both of them into small pieces, put them together into an iron pot, covered it with an iron lid and then put this mixture on the fire until it boiled. But beforehand he sent explorers to Delphi, to Aba in the land of the Phokers, to the old Dodona, to Amphiaraos and Trophonios, to consult the oracle on the one hundredth day after the departure from Sardis about what was bothering him at that moment; for during this time he was cooking his lamb and his tortoise in the aforementioned way.
Most of the oracles gave such complicated answers that probably no-one could ever make head or tail of them; but the oracle at Delphi said, as usual, in hexameters:
"See, I count the sand, I know the distances of the sea / I hear even the mute, and I harkens to the silent themselves / Now a smell penetrates my senses just as if / tortoise mixed with lamb cooked in ore / ore is underneath, ore is the covering above."
After this test he asked the oracle of Delphi whether he should do battle against the Persians, but received the well-known answer that, if he went across the Halys, a great kingdom would be brought down! He asked the oracle a third time whether his reign would be long. And the Pythia answered:
"If a mule one day has dominion as king over the Medes / then, tender-footed Lydian, fly away to the stony Hermos! / Do not hesitate, neither fear the disgrace of cowardly haste!"
According to the oracle"s own interpretation, which it gave after the capture of Croesus, the mule was to be understood as Cyrus, his victor, because he was begotten of a distinguished Medes, a daughter of Astyages, and of a Persian father who was subservient to her.
The very same Croesus also once asked the oracle if his son, who was mute, could not get better, and received the answer:
"Lydian, although a great ruler, yet of a foolish heart / do not long to hear in your palace the besought / voice of your speaking son! Trust will avail you better! / Know this, he will speak first on the unluckiest day!"
And you see! On the day when Sardis was conquered, a furious Persian went for Croesus to knock him to the ground. At this the fear and dread loosened the son"s tongue, and the son spoke: "Man, do not kill Croesus!" That was the first word by the mute son and in the future he could always speak his whole life long.
You see, this oracle was, as remarked earlier, no temple of wisdom from the Jewish school of prophets! But who could dispute the existence of some divine inspiration after the veritable examples cited?!"