Re: The forgotten verses

From: gordon brown (
Date: Thu Jun 05 2003 - 18:07:30 EDT

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    I find it rather interesting that you allow mathematics to influence your
    decision on how to interpret a verse of Scripture but are adamantly
    opposed to allowing any other science to do the same.

    Gordon Brown
    Department of Mathematics
    University of Colorado
    Boulder, CO 80309-0395

    On Wed, 4 Jun 2003, Vernon Jenkins wrote:

    > Dave,
    > I'm currently digesting your response to my recent posting. For now, let me
    > just challenge your closing words, "I simply go by the text." - referring to
    > your belief that the Hebrews of Solomon's day believed pi to be 3 - a
    > deduction based upon the data provided by II Chronicles 4:2. But you surely
    > realise there is ambiguity here. All real cylinders have an inner diameter
    > (d, say) and an outer diameter (D, say); an inner circumference (c, say) and
    > an outer circumference (C, say). Does "...ten cubits from brim to brim..."
    > represent d or D? Does "...a line of thirty cubits did compass it round
    > about." represent c or C?
    > You must therefore agree that the data here provided is insufficient to
    > support your claim. It needs the additional information given in verse 5 of
    > the same chapter to bring the solution a little closer. Here we are told
    > "And the thickness of it (the cylinder wall) was an handbreadth..." (t,
    > say). A 'handbreadth' is defined as a measure of four fingers, equal to
    > about four inches, and a 'cubit' as the distance from elbow to to the tip of
    > the longest finger of a man - about 18 inches.
    > Clearly, pi may be determined as either of the ratios c/d or C/D, but not as
    > c/D or C/d. Thus, only by reading the 30 cubits as the _inner_ circumference
    > (c), and the 10 cubits as the outer diameter (D) do we make sense of the
    > data, thus:
    > d = D - 2xt = 10x18 - 2x4 = 180 - 8 = 172 inches
    > c = 30x18 = 540 inches
    > pi = 540/172 = 3.14 (which we recognise as a commonly used approximation
    > for pi).
    > There can be little doubt that the intrinsic ambiguities associated with
    > IIChr.2:4 are here satisfactorily resolved, and why anyone should, (a) have
    > believed the Hebrews incapable of detecting a 4.5% error in the value of pi
    > (by assuming it to be 3 rather than its true value), and (b) have assumed
    > that Egyptian knowledge of this constant would have stopped short of its
    > border with Israel, is really beyond understanding - unless, of course, the
    > principal motive was the undermining of the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures.
    > Vernon

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