Re: Solomon's 'molten sea' revisited

From: Donald Nield <d.nield@auckland.ac.nz>
Date: Wed Apr 28 2004 - 18:50:43 EDT

A more common sense approach is to recognize that the Bible is not
concerned with scientific accuracy, and for most non-scientific
practical purposes 3 is a sufficiently close approximation to pi. Thus
1Kings 7:23 contains no error, and no harmonization with modern science
involving quibbles about inner an outer circumferences is required.
Don

Vernon Jenkins wrote:

> Michael,
>
> <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns =
> "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
>
> You may already be aware that The Sunday Telegraph of 25 April carried
> a letter from one who shares your view that 1Kings 7:23 reveals the
> woeful ignorance of the Hebrews of Solomon’s day concerning the
> mensuration of the circle - the piece concluding with the words: “The
> Bible, we are told, is directly inspired by God and scientifically
> accurate, since He cannot err. Clearly, He did not then know the value
> of pi, since you cannot get a line of 30 anythings to go round a
> circular vessel 10 anythings in diameter, even if you stop at pi =
> 3.142.”
>
> I have compiled the following rebuttal which I hope soon to see
> published:
>
> "To claim that the artisans and engineers of Solomon’s day were not
> aware that piexceeds 3 by some 4.7% flies in the face of simple common
> sense and logic – particularly when one considers that their immediate
> neighbours, the Egyptians, had long before incorporated an exceedingly
> accurate representation of this fundamental constantinto the
> dimensions of the Great Pyramid. We therefore seek a more
> satisfactoryinterpretation of 1Kings <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns =
> "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />7:23 – and one is not
> hard to find.
>
> "1Kings 7:26 informs us that the wall thickness of Solomon’s ‘brazen
> sea’ was ‘an handbreadth’ – and we are immediately reminded that a
> real cylinder has an inner diameter (d, say) and an outer diameter (D,
> say); an inner circumference (c, say) and an outer circumference (C,
> say). It must follow that 1Kings 7:23 is inherently ambiguous, for the
> ’10 cubits from one brim to the other’ and the ‘line of 30
> cubits…round about’ are unqualified. Your correspondent has assumed c
> = 30 and d = 10, so that the ratio, c/d = pi= 3 (or, alternatively, C
> = 30 and D = 10; with an identical conclusion). But what if the
> writer’s intention had been c = 30 and D = 10? The inner diameter (d)
> would then be the outer diameter(D) less twice the wall thickness of
> the cylinder (i.e. 2 x ‘an handbreadth’ – about 0.4 cubit). Under
> these conditions, pi= c/d = 30/9.6 = 3.125 (underestimating piby a
> mere 0.5%).
>
> "We might well conclude, therefore, that Solomon’s chief concern when
> planning this structure was to ensure – by the careful balancing of
> inner diameter and wall thickness – that 3 (symbol of divine
> perfection) would appear as the simple ratio of two of its principal
> dimensions, viz c/D."
>
> Vernon Jenkins MSc
>
> PS Interestingly, an accurate value ofpiis built into the Hebrew text
> of the Bible's first verse. Details may be found at:
> http://homepage.virgin.net/vernon.jenkins/Pi_File.htm
>
> VJ
>
> Michael, I am interested to know how you would counter this argument.
>
> Vernon
>
Received on Wed Apr 28 18:42:20 2004

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