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.

Striving Towards the ONE

To see how the three and four might be transcended we begin by looking at Erwin Schrodinger’s observations of cell division.

In his work, What is Life?, Schrodinger is not concerned with investigating the ancient dilemma of three and four, but he describes cell divisions, and in his descriptions one sees that the “triadic” family structure, mother-father-child, is involved with a “tetradic” pattern – as Schrodinger discusses the hereditary “code-script” that rests in the chromosomes, he says:

…this whole four-dimensional pattern is known to be determined by the structure of that one cell, the fertilized egg.


He points out that physical laws “rest on atomic statistics” and their “precision is based on the large number of atoms intervening,” whereas the living organism is under the control of “incredibly small groups of atoms, much too small to display exact statistical laws,” but they play a dominant role, control observable large-scale features, determine important characteristics of its functioning, and “in all this very sharp and very strict biological laws are displayed.” These laws insure that each one is always an event in himself, unto himself.

Here we can see that the three and the four both exist within the one and work together towards becoming one.

Old folk-wisdom has also acknowledged the predicament of the three and the four…

The strangest thing about the dilemma of three and four is that some time ago those on the side of three, embracing Euclidian geometry which says that the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, were contradicted in the nursery:

Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

This bit of wisdom is restated by Kluckhohn, the anthropologist, “A whole is different from the sum of its parts,” and it is restated by Koestler, “A whole is defined by the pattern of relations between its parts, not by the sum of its parts…”


It is also worth noting that the rhyme has also been interpreted as representing the second law of thermodynamics in that after his fall and shattering, the inability of the most powerful men in the world to reassemble Humpty is representative of the high unlikeliness to return him to his previous state of lower entropy as the entropy of an isolated system never decreases.

And in the nursery, those on the side of four, insisting upon the qualitative aspects of the whole, were reminded that time changes the aspects:

Hickory, dickory, dock.

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one, the mouse ran down.

Hickory, dickory, dock.

In these rhymes both the devotees of three and the devotees of four were given the clue: the whole must be described in terms of one, whole, and one must be seen as a working principle through which as time changes the arrangement of material forces within and without, one remains, itself a unity and the measure of unity.

This is to say, the answer to the dilemma of three and four rests in the answer to the mystery of one. This answer must be given in a mathematical statement that describes the composition and inner operation of one, itself. Jesus stated the Equation of One which must be seen against the briefly sketched background of the dilemma of three and four in order to appreciate the magnitude of His thought, for He transcends the dilemma, giving as the measure of one or wholeness, the number five.

We will begin to look at “Jesus the mathematician” in our next post. Until then, peace.