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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Python

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PYTHON . In Acts 16:16 we read of a young girl at Philippi who had ‘a spirit, a Python’ (this is the reading of all the best MSS). Pytho was a district close to Delphi; and Python was the serpent at that place slain by Apollo, who therefore was called ‘the Pythian.’ Hence the priestess at Delphi was called ‘the Pythian.’ This seems to be the connexion of the name with divination. Plutarch says that ventriloquists in his day (1st cent. a.d.) were called ‘Phythons.’ Their powers were considered to be due to spiritual influence, and to include prediction. The girl at Philippi, then, was probably a ventriloquist, who brought her masters gain by sootbsaying. She proclaimed aloud for many days that Paul and his companions were slaves of the Most High God, and the Apostle at last drove out the spirit ‘in the name of Jesus Christ.’ Her masters thereupon, having lost their source of profit, denounced Paul and Silas to the magistrates.

A. J. Maclean.


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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Python'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/p/python.html. 1909.

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Friday, May 29th, 2020
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