The magic of Christian numerology
|Beneath Milan's Duomo lies the Battistero Paleocristiano, ruins of an octagonal baptistery dating from the 4th century. In the foreground is the baptismal font, fed by canals seen directly opposite.|
"The baptistery was commonly octagonal in plan, a visual metaphor for the number eight, which symbolized in Christian numerology a new beginning. As eight follows the “complete” number, seven, so the beginning of the Christian life follows baptism. (The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica)"
|Greek Magical papyri invoking various deities.|
This is magic; to be more specific Greek Magic and to be absolutely specific, Pythagorean:
"Numerology is any belief in the divine, mystical relationship between a number and one or more coinciding events. It is also the study of the numerical value of the letters in words, names and ideas. It is often associated with the paranormal, alongside astrology and similar divinatory arts."
"Pythagoras and other philosophers of the time believed that because mathematical concepts were more "practical" (easier to regulate and classify) than physical ones, they had greater actuality. St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354–430) wrote "Numbers are the Universal language offered by the deity to humans as confirmation of the truth." Similar to Pythagoras, he too believed that everything had numerical relationships and it was up to the mind to seek and investigate the secrets of these relationships or have them revealed by divine grace. See Numerology and the Church Fathers for early Christian beliefs on the subject."
Christianity today tries to deny its obvious connections to magic, but its sacred texts, architecture, art and symbolism tell otherwise and this is accepted by scholarly consensus. Numerology is just one form of Pythagorean magic.
"The first attested use of gematria occurs in an inscription of Assyrian ruler Sargon II (727–705 BC) stating that the king built the wall of Khorsabad 16,283 cubits long to correspond with the numerical value of his name.[p.197, Ratzan] Gematria or isopsephy was borrowed into the Greek probably soon after their adoption of the Semitic writing system."
Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity: Ritual, Visual, and Theological Dimensions by Robin M. Jensen, Baker Books, 2012Mathematics and the Divine: A Historical Study by Teun Koetsier and Luc Bergmans, Elsevier (2004):
"Symbology and numerology
"In Christian numerology, the number 888 represents Jesus, or sometimes more specifically Christ the Redeemer. This representation may be justified either through gematria, by counting the letter values of the Greek transliteration of Jesus' name,[Dudley, Underwood (1997), Numerology: Or What Pythagoras Wrought, MAA Spectrum, Cambridge University Press, p. 105]"
As in the Gospel of John: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
Though all religion is magical and both Jewish culture and theology two millennia ago contained magical elements (practices and beliefs), Chrestianity is a product of colonial Greek syncretisms (with the pharaonic faith of Egypt and other, Levantine cults) and thus can be seen as at least partially a product of Greek Magic, itself derivative of Pythagoreanism (in the first century, then known as Neoplatonism in the third-to-sixth centuries).
As the Christian textual tradition is a product of Alquin of York and his Christianisation of Europe (through both the Latin, Holy Roman Empire and the Greek, Byzantine Empire) - and this makes many references to how it uses Pythagoreanism - we see how this Greek Magic becomes an essential, large part of our modern, Western Civilisation.
[This is a proper field of academic study, for example the two books, above, and The conference Neoplatonism and Early Christianity, held in 2011 by the Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University.]