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…

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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.”

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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.

The Dilemma and the Pearl

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Chapter 8, “The Dilemma and the Pearl,” begins with Preston Harold asking us what type of outlook we bring to the world around us – are we a “three” or a “four?”

Wolfgang Pauli says that two types of minds have battled through history: first, the thinking type that considers the quantitative relations of the parts to be essential – and secondly, the intuitive type that senses the qualitative indivisibility of the whole.

The first type mind is posed on the side of three. This type took its stand with Euclid, resting upon his well-known axiom: the whole is equal to the sum of the parts. This axiom, along with the rest of Euclidian geometry, dominated Western thought until the late 19th century. One might say that Euclidian geometry still dominates, for the revolution in mathematics that tumbled it from sacred pre-eminence has not yet seeped down to the layman’s level, and many students will learn first, by rote, Euclid’s axioms, imbedding in the subconscious mind these fallible statements which have been presented as unquestionable truth…

One might say that the three represents Rene Guenon’s “reign of quantity,” the historical manifestation of the descent from form (quality) toward matter (quantity), and the “nothing but-ness” of stark materialism. Tradition calls this period the Kali Yuga, the age of the demon, Kali, or the iron age.

Today, the second type of mind, posed on the side of four, insisting upon the qualitative indivisibility of the whole, regains much of the standing lost in recent centuries. As regards the sum of the parts in relation to whole being, scientists, dealing with one whole atom and the sum of its parts, have found that in the formation of a nucleus from protons and neutrons some of the mass of the particles apparently is converted to energy. The chemist sees that the combined action of several elements taken together is greater than the sum of them taken separately. Mathematicians working with transfinite number theory confront the concept that the whole can equal one of its parts. In short, one is forced to alter his concept that a discrete whole within the universe can be divided and its parts regathered to equal the sum of the whole…

Anyone wishing to look further into the “qualitative indivisibility of the whole” would do well to search out the works of the Goethean scientist Henri Bortoft. You can thank me later ;-).

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Of course both the three and the four have their place in our world but how do we go about regaining the balance between the two? This is what we will continue to explore in Chapter 8. Until next time, peace.