For professional reasons I came in contact with an old man, already dangerously ill, who wanted to bequeath his estate to our institute. He was feeble and could no longer get up. He explained to me in short sentences which documents he wanted to bequeath to our institute – I straight away noticed that they had no value for the institute. Among them were a few dozen Ancient Greek editions. I asked him about them because I was then learning that language myself. He invited me to sit by his bed and he began to narrate.
What that old man told me over the following days (I often visited him in the evening) was, as I was later to ascertain, literally extraordinary, that is, outside the ordinary. At first I simply assumed he was in the grip of fantasies. He told me he was the last member of a society whose ethical basis was the true teachings of Pythagoras. That community, so he said, had once had numerous members in several countries. But he had had no further contact with “cult members” for a long time and believed he was the last initiate.
One evening he began dictating to me a Greek text he had learned by heart a long time ago. In truth he was bound to an oath of silence, so he forced me to promise to show the dictation to nobody. But, he said, the teachings would change my life.
And so I sat by the bed of that man in his last illness and wrote what he dictated in a language which I then had an insufficient grasp of. His particular way of articulating and distinguishing clearly the individual sounds made my task of listening much easier, and so soon we were making rather good progress. Because of his occasionally very rapid speech rhythms my dictation is not always easy for me to decipher. Sometimes I slipped back into Latin characters, and there are some small gaps because of momentary lapses in my concentration.
The result: a thick volume whose contents I at first could only partly understand, and which, with the growth of my knowledge of Greek, I could and can decrypt only with difficulty. Meanwhile I believe in the divine authority that speaks through the text and I am full of confidence that a good daimon is guiding me in this work.
I am fulfilling the letter of my oath: as I promised the old man, nobody will see the original dictation. But I will gradually publish some excerpts from it so that the “Gospel of Pythagoras” will achieve its goal – to hand on to future generations the light of the faith.
Gospel? Why that epithet? There are two reasons for that. The contents of the writings go back to Pythagoras [even though] the text certainly originated at a later period, as revealed by the form of the language. It is the Greek of the post-classical period and has many similarities with the simple, sometimes almost clumsy style of the Bible. That is the first reason. The other: the narrative is of a path to salvation that only a small chosen group is called on to take. For that group the text is an euaggelion – a gospel. That means nothing but “good news”. And we are meant to become aware of the original simplicity of that word, which was an everyday one in Ancient Greek, in the Gospel of Pythagoras.