History Underhill, John: The Athenian Oracle
#1  Yammerhant 01-10-2021, 08:25 AM
"The Athenian Oracle." (1892)
A Selection, Edited by John Underhill.

In 1691 a London bookseller named John Dunton published "The Athenian Mercury", a twice-weekly paper which was to give answers to any and all questions that correspondents submitted to it; in other words, a 17th century version of Quora or Yahoo Answers. It was a notable success, and in 1892 John Underhill assembled this selection from its pages.

The main difference from more modern Q&A equivalents is that the oracle gave more frequent answers on religious subjects. It was quite definite, for example, that prayers for the dead are sinful, and that the punishment for sin is everlasting.

On more worldly topics it thought that tobacco was neither good nor bad, that it was "impossible for a Person that keeps a Public-house to carry himself so that he should not offend God, and yet gratify his Guests." Interestingly for the time, the oracle was confident that "after mature and serious consideration," that the slave-trade could not in any way be justified.
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