The fortune telling girl (Acts 16:16)

“One day,

As we were going

To the place of prayer,

We met

A certain girl

Who had the spirit

Of Python.

Her work

Brought her owners

A great deal of money

By fortune telling.”

Ἐγένετο δὲ πορευομένων ἡμῶν εἰς τὴν προσευχὴν, παιδίσκην τινὰ ἔχουσαν πνεῦμα Πύθωνα ὑπαντῆσαι ἡμῖν, ἥτις ἐργασίαν πολλὴν παρεῖχεν τοῖς κυρίοις αὐτῆς μαντευομένη.

The author of Acts indicated that one day (Ἐγένετο δὲ), as they were going (πορευομένων ἡμῶν) to the place of prayer (εἰς τὴν προσευχὴν), they met (ὑπαντῆσαι ἡμῖν) a certain girl (παιδίσκην τινὰ) who had the spirit (ἔχουσαν πνεῦμα) of Python (Πύθωνα).  Her work (ἥτις ἐργασίαν) brought (ἐργασίαν) her owners or masters (τοῖς κυρίοις αὐτῆς) a great deal of money (πολλὴν) by fortune telling (μαντευομένη).  Acts was the only Greek biblical writing that used this word Πύθωνα, that means Python, a mythical serpent slain by Apollo, divination, or a divining spirit. Acts was also the only Greek biblical writing that used this word μαντευομένη, that means to divine, practice soothsaying, or suggesting fraud.  The author of Acts continued to insert himself into this story by saying “we”.  He insinuated that he was one of this group of traveling Christian missionaries that went to pray this day and then met this fortune telling girl that was controlled by her masters or owners.  Someone, this girl was attached to a mythical Pythian serpent said to have guarded the oracle at Delphi.  For Jewish people, any kind of snakes were always evil.  She could sprout oracles, somewhat like a ventriloquist or tell the future.  She was rather unique.  Have you ever met a fortune teller?

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