Re: numbers (from Re: personal revelations)

From: Peter Ruest (
Date: Sat Feb 22 2003 - 00:39:37 EST

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    In this post, I'd like to respond to contributions of Iain Strachan,
    David Campbell, Wayne Dawson, Rich Faussette, and Vernon Jenkins:

    Iain Strachan wrote:
    > ... I also contacted a fairly eminent maths professor, specializing in the field of History of Maths. His name is Ivor Grattann-Guinness, and he has published several peer-reviewed papers on the subject of numerology as practiced, quite deliberately by composers such as Beethoven and Mozart.
    > It was Grattann-Guinness who first told me that the New Testament gematria were rigged so that many key phrases yielded multiples of the number 37; ...
    "... the Old Testament as well". When I ventured that the person whose
    web-site I got it off had suggested it was evidence that God inspired
    the bible, Grattann-Guinness responded "No. It is the strongest
    possible evidence that humans and _not_ God wrote the bible."
    > I responded that this thing (making the letters add up and make intricate patterns) was actually extremely hard to do. I had come across some deliberate attempts documented in the book "Bach and the riddle of the number alphabet", (Ruth Tatlow), which shows that it was a common game to do this kind of thing in the 17th Century. One example was a poem simply called "2300" where every line was supposed to add up to 2300, the number from the book of Daniel. What was obvious from these "poetical paragrams" was that:
    (1) Frequently they used non-conventional spelling to make the numbers
    add up.
    (2) Frequently the numbers didn't add up right because the author got
    the arithmetic wrong.
    (3) The subject matter of such poems was invariably absolute drivel and
    worthless as literature.
    > I contrasted this with the fact that Gen 1:1 is a perfectly natural sentence in Hebrew, and extremely relevant and clear about what it says. However Grattann-Guinness didn't respond on this point - as far as he was concerned, humans must have deliberately done it. ...<

    David Campbell wrote:
    > ...
    > >Even names like "Jesus", "Christ", and "Son of Man" would have been deliberately chosen to yield multiples of 37. (I've checked; they do).<<
    > As all of these appear in the OT (the first two being Greek translations), they clearly were not made up by the NT writers. The NT writers may have chosen (deliberately or unwittingly through providence) numerically significant names and phrases, but this in no way supports the claim that they were just making it up. <

    Wayne Dawson wrote:
    > ...
    > In short, it is the _content_ that makes the Bible meaningful, and
    > the numbers (even if they really can be irrefutably shown to be
    > significant), are still merely the "decorations" on the cake. Even
    > if there were none, it would still be engaging. On the other hand,
    > the first clown's book is only tawdry decorations. <
    Rich Faussette wrote:
    > When I asked why the numerology was significant (without saying it was wrong)
    > I offered a paper to the members of this list explaining passages in genesis
    > (that I thought was more significant)... <

    Rich, could you please email me a copy of this paper? Thank you!

    At this time, I don't want to deal with the integers. I find the claims
    about transcendental numbers even more astonishing. On 20 Jun 2001
    (asa-digest #2178), Vernon presented a rather simple formula which
    produces pi from Gen. 1:1 in Hebrew, and Euler's e from John 1:1 in
    Greek, both with fractional errors of about 10^(-5) only (each letter
    traditionally has a certain integer value). I checked and confirmed both
    claims. First, my result for e was off by half a percent instead of
    10^(-5), but after being told by Iain that a iota has to be added to the
    Greek word ARCHE in John 1:1 (in the text, it is a subscript to the
    eta), the fit was as claimed.

    I was not sure that assigning the probabilities of 10^(-5) to these
    results is correct. So I asked any on the list with mathematical
    competence for comments on this. Iain argued that it is correct. No one
    else commented, although some derided the whole enterprise as misguided.
    Evidently, they did not attribute any significantly small probabilities
    to the results, although no one documented this opinion on the basis of
    any other reasoned probability estimates.

    Now, with respect to the actual discussion, I would assume that the
    writer of Gen.1:1 might have known pi, but certainly not to this
    precision. However, I doubt that Euler's e was known at all to John. So
    how could they just make it up, as Grattann-Guinness believes? It would
    certainly be even much harder to do than making up patterns of integers.
    And how could these transcendental numbers serve as "decorations" if
    they were not known at all, or not to the precision produced by the
    text? (Wayne, of course, I agree that it is the _content_ that makes the
    Bible meaningful.)


    Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    <> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)

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