Jesus’ Mathematical Influences

Preston Harold speculates on other means by which Jesus may have acquired his mathematical knowledge.

But one does not have to look altogether to the unconscious for Jesus’ source of mathematical knowledge. Within His reach was Alexandria, the center of mathematical studies and of Neo-Pythagorianism. Here, Nicomachus of Gerasa, one of the “golden chain” of philosopher-mathematicians, is presumed to have studied, for Gerasa was a city in Palestine, primarily Greek – it is near to the place where Jesus cast demons called “Legion” into the swine – and it is probable that Nicomachus did not receive all of his education there… Nicomachus is thought to have flourished between the middle of the first and second centuries, but it is possible that he was a contemporary of Jesus, and he could have brought Alexandrian mathematics to Palestine, placing his knowledge within easy reach…


Many of Jesus’ statements regarding one reflect Nicomachus’ thinking, which, in turn, rests upon the mathematical knowledge of his day. Nicomachus had much to say of one, which he saw as unity. Jesus’ mathematics came to rest in His concept of one, which appears to have arisen from His grasp of the operation of signed numbers and the concept of zero.

Zero, that non-number number that is both nothing and everything.  At the end of his introduction to his book, “Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea,” Charles Seife writes, “The clashes over zero were the battles that shook the foundations of philosophy, of science, of mathematics, and of religion. Underneath every revolution lay a zero – and an infinity… Yet through all its history, despite the rejection and the exile, zero has always defeated those who opposed it. Humanity could never force zero to fit its philosophies. Instead, zero shaped humanity’s view of the universe – and of God.”


Preston Harold writes:

About the time Euclid was stating his axioms (300 B.C.) an unknown scribe jabbed into a wet clay tablet a point to make the space that zero would come to occupy about a thousand years later when Hindus brought to the court of the Caliph of Baghdad the digit 0, still used today. To the mathematician, zero – 0 – is indeed a perfect pearl for the possibilities opened through this symbol are limitless. Did the digit 0 take shape in Jesus’ mind – or was it another gift of the Magi? In speaking of the “eye” of the needle, Jesus called to mind this configuration: 0, and related it to “naught,” for the “eye” of the needle is the  “nothing” of it that makes it operable; and in this enigmatic statement, He brought God, the absent or “minus” one into correspondence with man, the present or “positive” one, and brought both one’s into correspondence with this “hole,” or whole of “nothing” that takes on a “circular” shape, through which God, “minus” one, draws man, “positive” one, into infinity. Through this correspondence, any one-thing is vested with zero’s enigmatic, unmeasurable properties. But Jesus appears to have realized that although one and zero are corresponding unities, they are not the same in action and reaction.

It is this difference between one and zero that we will look at in our next installment. Until then, peace.


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