IT IS widely believed that the only mathematician in the Bible was Noah. Nobody else would have had a hope of passing the Eleven Plus. Admittedly, Moses' Book of Numbers is frankly disappointing, but I hope to show in this article that the Bible contains evidence of a higher standard of mathematics than is generally supposed.

Arithmetic if, of course, mentioned most frequently, and we are
told that men sometimes worshipped figures.^{1} At a very early stage "men began to
multiply,"^{2} and Abraham was familiar
with division.^{3} Some writers have
pointed out that the arithmetic in Ezra^{4}
is faulty, but this is explained where it reads "certain additions
were made of thin work."^{5} The
approximation for is
reasonable,^{6} considering the fact that
Moses destroyed the tables,^{7} which were
not replaced until Solomon's time.^{8}
Elsewhere we read "he shall not extract the root thereof,"^{9} and "we wrestle against powers."^{10}

The first attempts at Geometry were, of course, Euclidean. We read
that "great rulers were brought down,"^{11} "from Syracuse they fetched a
compass,"^{12} and Noah constructed an
arc^{13} and Ezekiel described a
line.^{14} Further progress was made when
they took axes,^{15} culminating in
David's success with the calculus.^{16}
David, incidentally, was the first to refuse to accept what he had not
proved.^{17} St. Paul was familiar with
four dimensions,^{18} and Joshua continued
with the arc long a Jordan path.^{19}

Algebra, although thought to be an invention of the Arabs, was only
too familiar to the Jews. For instance, Moses gives instructions
about a matrix^{20} and Ezekiel knew
enough about rings to describe them as "dreadful."^{21} Peter was kept half the night by four
quaternions,^{22} and the Jews were
described as "a generation seeking after a sign."^{23}

"As for the Pure, his work is right" said the writer of
Proverbs,^{24} and this attitude is
reflected in the few existing references to Applied Mathematics. "I
have seen thy abominations in the Fields" cried Jeremiah,^{25} and the Psalmist complained "Thou hast
afflicted me with all thy Waves."^{26}
Later the Father of Publius was "sick of the bloody Flux."^{27}

It is easy to understand why they disliked mathematics. Apart from
the deacons "who purchase to themselves a good Degree,"^{28} they had to be examined, as was
St. Paul.^{29} We know that Elisha
passed,^{30} and Solomon was able to
answer all the questions,^{31} but Peter
was much troubled when he saw the sheet,^{32} and Job cried "My kinsfolk have failed, and
my friends."^{33} Perhaps Johoiakim was an
examiner, for "when he had read three or four pages he cast it into
the fire."^{34} As for St. John, all that
he knew was "the Second woe is past, the Third cometh."^{35}

*Eureka*,
**22**.

^{1} Acts vii. 43.
^{2} Gen. vi. 1. ^{3} Gen. xv. 10. ^{4} Ezra ii. ^{5} 1 Kings vii. 29. ^{6} 2 Chron. iv. 2. ^{7} Exod. xxxii. 19. ^{8} 2 Chron. iv. 8. ^{9} Ezek. xvii. 9. ^{10} Eph. vi. 12. ^{11} Ps. 136. 17. ^{12} Acts xxviii. 13. ^{13} Gen. vi. (archaic spelling). ^{14} Ezek. xl. ^{15} 1 Sam. xiii. 21. ^{16} 1 Sam. xvii. ^{17} 1 Sam. xvii. 39. ^{18} Eph. iii. 18. ^{19} Joshua iii. ^{20} Exod. xxxiv. 19. ^{21} Ezek. i. 18. ^{22} Acts xii. 4. ^{23} Math. xvi. 4. ^{24} Prov. xxi. 8. ^{25} Jer. xiii. 27. ^{26} Ps. 88. 7. ^{27} Acts xxviii. 8. ^{28} 1 Tim. iii. 13. ^{29} Acts xxviii. 18. ^{30} 2 Kings iv. 8. ^{31} 2 Chron. ix. 2. ^{32} Acts xi. ^{33} Job xix. 14. ^{34} Jer. xxxvi. 23. ^{35} Rev. xi. 14.

Reproduced from Eureka 27 pages 34-35.

HTML conversion Copyright © 2002-4 The Archimedeans.

Errata: "Arithmetic if" should read "Arithmetic is", "long a Jordan path" should read "along a Jordan path", "Johoiakim" should read "Jehoiakim".

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