To be most fertile, the soil must first be torn up; and shall not thy soul accept suffering for the sake of better growth.

Better to think wrongly with your own head, than to think rightly with the head of another.

Few can tell what they know without also showing what they do not know.

Ivan Panin

I have eclectic interests. Frankly I have no idea why something strikes my fancy in the first place. Sometimes these little intellectual rabbit trails that I go down are quite contrary to something that I would normally have an interest in. For instance, mathematics. I never particularly enjoyed math in school. Sure I struggled through and passed, but I never was interested in it beyond finishing the class and getting on with life. If it wasn't for computers doing the heavy lifting for me, math and activities that require math would still be a source of frustration for me.Lately, math has become very interesting to me. This strikes me as most odd for several reasons. What's even more odd is that that what interests me is "hard math". My first awaking to the adventure in math started when I got serious about long range shooting. Suddenly trigonometry became a useful subject for me. Fortunately there are computer programs for that and I was saved from any real need to work it out with my pencil. Most recently quantum physics, regression methodology, calculus and probability statistics are suddenly topics of interest and study. The first thing I learned was that I should have been paying better attention in the 7th through 10 grades, but I already knew that.

On my little adventure I "met" a man whose scholarship simply blows me away. This scholar was born in 1855. As a youth he was exiled from his home land for plotting to overthrow his king. When he showed up at Harvard in 1878, he had no real academic credentials. He claimed to be "self educated" and they let him in. He graduated Harvard in 4 years and soon became one of the worlds foremost authorities in his field of Literary Criticism. In his capacity as a literary authority, he traveled extensively and was highly sought after and compensated. During this period of his life, he became somewhat famously known for his agnostic and nihilistic philosophical positions.

Then inexplicably he became a Christian. This was considered so odd an event that it was newsworthy in its day, it even made the headlines of some newspapers.

Because of his conversion to Christianity he began to read the bible. One day he discovered that there seemed to be certain numeric patterns that repeated themselves in scripture. That initial discovery launched a 50 year project where he investigated the mathematical evidence for divine inspiration of scripture. The man who did this was Ivan Panin.

In my reading I discovered that no one has ever disproved his theorems, or the math behind his discovery of heptadic biblical structure. Which led me down another rabbit trail. If this man's work, over 50 years of his life and over 40,000 pages of original research, is so amazing why isn't he talked about and lauded by Christendom? After all he didn't just define the heptadic tradition, he also discovered a great many other "bible number codes" that are textually definitive.

I haven't looked at all 40,000 pages of his work, nor am I a Greek and Hebrew linguist. However I believe I have discovered, at least part of the problem. First off there is his math. Frankly no one has discovered any serious math errors. They don't exist. This may be in part due to the fact that the math is seldom harder than basic addition/subtraction, multiplication/division and some probability statistics. Next is his methodology. That is pretty much solid as well, with a couple of exceptions I will deal with latter. The main reason we are not having a lively debate between believers and non-believers over the works of Ivan Panin, is the fault I believe of the Christian denominational scène.

Christian scripture consists of two main divisions, the old and new testaments. The old testament is basically a collection of scriptures that are (mostly) Jewish in origin and have a long history of Rabbinical supervision and authentication, as well as strictly professional standards for copying and translation. The rabbis had about an 1,800 year history of making sure their scripture was correct before the Christians ever came along. The new testament has a similar although not as long, history of textual diligence. However, there are minor differences in copies of texts and of text fragments that have survived to this day. Herein is the problem in scholarly Christian circles.

There are two 800 lb gorillas in Christian textual translation and criticism, they are textus receptus (think King James bible in English) and the translation work done under the name of Westcott and Hort (think NIV, RSV etc in English). For those of you who can't get enough of controversies involving dead languages: Westcott & Hort vs. Textus Receptus: Which is Superior? I'll let you decide the merits of the controversy.

Dr. Panin did what any thinking independent research should do, he followed his own way. This meant that sometimes he sided with Westcott and Hort, and sometimes he sided with textus receptus and sometimes, this is key, he sided with fragments of texts or less well received documents that maintained the heptadic structure. For the most part he used Westcott and Hort's work. This cost him support of the traditionalists. But if the numbers didn't back up Westcott & Hort, he'd side with the traditionalists, which cost him support among the revisers. If he couldn't verify the structure in either, he would use a less popular source document embraced sometimes by neither camp.

Mostly Panin used and sided with Westcott & Hort. One finial fly in that ointment, Westcott & Hort turned out to be occultists. Go ahead and let that sink in, the two main players in revising the bible into modern languages were involved in biblically prohibited satanic activity.

What I think happened is that in the beginning years of the last century Dr. Panin discovered and proved some very interesting things about the bible. However he was an independent sort of person with very little interest in denominational squabbles. Therefore he gathered no supporters while collecting a handful of influential critics who incidentally, were the gatekeepers of Christian seminary education. By the time of his death in 1942, no one came along with the same zeal as Dr. Panin to carry the torch and his scholarship was dutifully categorized and put on the shelf; where from time to time other scholars bump into it, dust it off and say to themselves "hey that's interesting why haven't I seen this before?"

So why aren't believers and non-believers hashing out the details of 40,000 plus pages of biblical math proofs? Well 40,000 pages is a lot and its math and dead languages and... you get the picture. I've not read all or even a significant portion of his work. However I have read some of the more popular and pointed examples. They are in a word compelling. I've also read a number of criticisms (from non believers) of Panin's bible numbers. Some of them are interesting, some of them simply beg the question, and some fall some place in between.

Without rehashing points found elsewhere, I'd like to post one criticism, if it is a criticism. The mathematics are as I have pointed out undoubtedly correct as the math itself is fairly simple. I believe you can do it all with a calculator or excel. Question/criticism that I wish I could pose to Dr. Panin has to do with his statistical analysis of the underling heptadic structure.

I'm not sure he set up his work properly.

That's right, the guy who had to retake several math classes over his life, just called one of Albert Einstein's math tutors method of establishing statistic probabilities into question. I can't tell you how to calculate the surface area of the two spheres that it takes to do that, but I can tell you that they are large and made of brass.

Here we go:

If I place a condition on a text that can be met by fulfilling 7 criteria, the odds of that happening randomly are 1 in 7. With me so far? Good. If I place a different stipulation that can be met by fulfilling an additional 7 criteria the odds of that happening are also 1 in 7. In order to combine the two conditions into one set of stipulations the odds become 1in 7x7 or 1 in 49. As I add heptadic stipulations the equation grows so that each new stipulation increases the multiple by another 7. Seven independent stipulations all being true, with a each having a probability of a 1 in 7 chance looks like this: 1 in (7x7x7x7x7x7x7)=823,543.

Dr. Panin has heptadic probabilities for some passages of scripture calculated out well into double digit exponents. My issue is with the dependence and independence of the of the individual heptadic stipulations. If each stipulation is truly independent in nature than his (very high) calculation of probability of randomness is correct. Incidentally that would make falsification of his hypothesis that math proves the divine nature of the bible, virtually impossibly from a statistical stand point. If I am correct and a portion of the heptadic stipulations are either a.) random therefore excludable or b.) dependent and therefor excludable, then Dr. Panin's calculations overstate the probabilities of randomness and therefor need to be recalculated and reevaluated.

OK there are about 6 of you who drop by that I know can rip me to shreds in the math department. Please rip away. I'd love to be proven wrong, since affirming Dr. Panin would be a huge apologetic victory. If you were to prove my doubt and rational to be incorrect, it would save me figuring out how to do my own proof. After all 43,000 pages of calculations is a lot and I don't know that I have 50 years of life left to do it. Granted a computer could help, but still its a big project.

## 27 comments:

It sounds like it doesn't come down to math.

What is it that you think is random or dependant?

Giraffe (part 1)

Panin "discovered" in quotes because Kabbalists also made similar discoveries that scripture in Greek and Hebrew contains linguistic groupings that involve the number 7, these groupings are called heptadic structure. He came up with other numerology stuff that is very interesting as well, but I'm just sticking to the heptadic stuff right now.

I guess the easiest and best known example is from the genealogy of Jesus in Mathew 1. Here is a link to a PDF file that explains, in his own words what he is doing. The file is 41 pages long, but you only need about the first 6 to see what he is getting at, and the first 2 to get what I’m talking about.

Giraffe (part2)

What is it that you think is random or dependant?Dr. Panin call each instance of heptadic structure a “feature”. I believe that some of these features are dependent and independent variables.

Here is my problem, Panin doesn’t seem to control or account (or explain why) for the dependence or independence of his “features”, nor does he account for the possibility of unique randomness in the data as part of his equations. (Well he does sort of in the transcript of one of his speeches, but its not really much of an explanation, and it’s more of a throwaway line from my POV).

In the 13 feature (keep in mind he’s proved WAY more than 13) example in the first two pages, his probability equation looks like this: 1 chance in (7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7x7)=96,889,010,407 of random structure. I don’t see where Panin has addressed the axioms of probability or controls for naturally occurring number patterns as part of his statistical formula or filters for it as part of the data collection process. What it seems to me he has done is collected data sets (his “features”) and run probability numbers on the raw data. Now I admit that doing that may prove to be correct, or at least non-damaging to the end result but I think it should have been accounted for in the formula.

(BTW if anyone knows how to get exponents to show properly in blogger comments, I’d be grateful for the code.)

Giraffe (part 3)

I want to believe Dr. Panin correct in the worst possible way. I want to show his work to others as a distinct scientific “proof” for the rational belief in the intelligent design of scripture. Some of the probability numbers that his proponents use are in the ballpark of 1 in 100 with 40 zeroes behind it of randomness. Talk about overwhelming statistical evidence for divine inspiration of scripture! Before I can do that, I have to prove to myself that he is correct.

The method I normally use for falsifying “Christian scholarship” is to examine the arguments that their critics use against them. In this case the “Christian” critics are silent or are focused on textual inclusion arguments. The atheistic camp, is equally weak and cherry picks examples of heptadic structure in English to argue against Greek and Hebrew numerology.

Here is my thought process:

1. I am satisfied that the alpha numeric work is correct

2. I am satisfied that the heptadic structure is valid

3. I am satisfied that the compilation of lexicon data is correct

4. I am satisfied that the “features” exist

5. I am not satisfied that the “features” always relate to each other the way it is claimed, or that “random” or “anomalisms” in the data is controlled for.

Questions that would help resolve #5 for me:

Has a base rate error/fallacy occurred with the data?

Is the size of the Biblical text such that we must account for conditional probability?

Here is the address to a PDF file for the broken one in my first comment.

http://www.telusplanet.net/public/tsgibson/panin.pdf

It's pretty interesting.

I think its over my head.

So because the vocabulary is 49 (feature 1) Features 2 and 3 are dependant on that? He's counting 3 features where he should only count one. Yet it isn't that simple, as there is significance to the number being 7x7.

I'd say you'd have to compare the Bible to other greek works and see if the patterns are present. I understand from Wikipedia that they are, but I'll bet not nearly as much.

Firstly, who are you and what have you done with Res Ipsa?!?

Just kidding, it's actually an interesting piece of work.

However, I will "rip it to shreds" in just the first two pages, with one phrase:

Cherry-picking.

As all good numerologists do, he finds patterns of numbers within text based on subjective selection criteria. If you change the criteria, the patterns vanish.

For example, look at Feature 11 on page 2; it is based on nouns and non-nouns. But what if we looked at the number of verbs and non-verbs, instead -- what is the outcome then? What about adjectives, adverbs, or prepositions versus non-such (if there are Greek analogues of these types)?

Next, on page 3 first paragraph, he divides the alphabetical distribution into three arbitrary groups. Why these particular groups? Because he divided them up into groups that would make sevens, of course.

But only two paragraphs later, he divides the letters up into five groups, all of which -- surprise! -- add up to sevens. But why not use the same three groups as before, I ask? I would bet it's because they don't add up to sevens.

What about other types of letter divisions? He looks at vowels and consonants, but are there other categories of the Greek alphabet? I'm not really that familiar with it, but if there are other categories in which individual letters can be classified (diacriticals, extended strokes, etc), what would an analytical breakdown of those categories show?

The first rule of numerology: If you can find a pattern that matches what you are looking for, you describe it and include it. If it doesn't match, you ignore it and hope that everybody else doesn't notice.

Now, this isn't to say that all of his numbered Features are picked the same way, because they aren't -- and those are interesting to consider separately. But the fact that some of the Features are cherry-picked throws off the complexity of the equation at the end, at least, and calls into question the entire methodology.

You ask why this man's work has been placed on a shelf? I say it's because previous Christian apologists looked at it and found the same flaws I just did, and likely in far more depth than I went.

Res Ipsa: "This meant that sometimes he sided with Westcott and Hort, and sometimes he sided with textus receptus and sometimes, this is key, he sided with fragments of texts or less well received documents that maintained the heptadic structure."= more cherry-picking. He selected text based on whether or not it contained the patterns he wanted to find.

You already (subconciously?) noted that, too, in your comment -- he picked whichever one

maintained the heptadic structureRes Ipsa: "My issue is with the dependence and independence of the of the individual heptadic stipulations....If I am correct and a portion of the heptadic stipulations are either a.) random therefore excludable or b.) dependent and therefor excludable, then Dr. Panin's calculations overstate the probabilities of randomness and therefor need to be recalculated and reevaluated."You are correct. As Giraffe already noted, some of the Features are overlapping; including them as separate Features in the calculation is questionable at best. Saying you have 7, which is 3 and 4, and that 3+4=7, should only be counted once, not twice.

Furthermore, all of the statistical calculations are based on more-or-less randomness of the original Greek words. However, if Greek words statistically have a higher concentration of words with seven letters, this could affect the calculations. Same with the names in the geneologies; if there is a statistical bump in names with 7, 14, 21, etc. letters, then it could also skew the results because they aren't actually random.

I'd say you'd have to compare the Bible to other greek worksHe did that in the 1900 to 19teens. He claimed the frequency wasn't there.

WB,

Last part of your point first:

Panin stated that the heptadic method should be used when evaluating "exact wording" of various base manuscripts. Assume that you have 5 copies of a text and that the basic meaning is the same in each of the 5 copies. How would you know which of the 5 was the most accurate? His solution was to see if the heptadic pattern held, if it did he would give more credence to that copy. All the copies were already available, it was a matter of deciding which one was most correct. Other scholars used different methods, like which copy was oldest, or had the largest distribution etc. In that case, its not a matter of cherry picking so much as using the structure for verification. My understanding of the source documents is that there is a less than 1% variance between the different manuscripts and that those variances are very minor in terms of imparting meaning to the text its self.

Next point: Panin eventually covered every verse of the entire bible so he took the whole text not just key selections. Interestingly he also did the Apocrypha as well and concluded it did not have the same structure.

I've got to get to work but your point on how did he choose which criteria to evaluate is a good one. I also wondered about it. I do know that every greek sentence has very ridged rules that it must adhere to in order to be grammatically correct. I don't know that those rules are, so maybe that has something to do with it.

I can see point that some criteria safe guards are built in because of the linguistic requirements, that might account for some of his selections, I don't know.

An interesting feature about 7, as well as all other odd numbers: all of the numbers below it add up to multiples of it, because the number pairs below it add up to it:

1+2+3+4+5+6+7=28=4*7=four pairs of 7s

1+6=7

2+5=7

3+4=7

7=7

Four pairs of 7s

Try that with an even number, and it doesn't work:

1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8=36=4.5*8=not complete pairs of 8s

1+7=8

2+6=8

3+5=8

4+?=can't make a pair

8=8

Res Ipsa: "In that case, its not a matter of cherry picking so much as using the structure for verification."Which is, in itself, circular reasoning:

Copy X is correct because it contains the heptadic structure; the heptadic structure is found in the entirety of the Biblical version which incorporates Copy X.

"pairs of 7s" and "pairs of 8s" should be "sets" instead of "pairs". My bad.

Res Ipsa: "(BTW if anyone knows how to get exponents to show properly in blogger comments, I’d be grateful for the code.)"AFAIK, there is no code for exponents, per se. However, you have two options:

1. Write it in programmer's code, such as 7^13 or 7**13

2. For exponents that use the digits 1, 2, or 3, you can use the character codes built into the extended ASCII character set, such as 7¹³ (the 1 and 3 are separate characters, here). It's harder to make out with poor eyes (like mine), however. And since you can't use it for digits 4-9 or 0, you would have to use a more complex form; for 7^9 you could write 7¹¹̄², but this isn't ideal.

Well, shoot -- that exponent was supposed to be "11-2", but the "-" was a combining form which overlaps both the 1 and the 2. Better to use the programmers code, instead.

Copy X is correct because it contains the heptadic structure; the heptadic structure is found in the entirety of the Biblical version which incorporates Copy X.I partially concede the point. However in some these "disputed" areas were are talking about the difference of one greek or Hebrew letter on an entire scroll of text.

IF the purpose of a heptadic structure is to establish a verification code, using the code when discerning the validity of various copied texts is a legitimate undertaking. Keep in mind that this "back checking" technique is only being applied on about 1% of the text material in question and that over 98% of the entire text is in total agreement with the structure in place for that material.

The larger question that applies is "why did he choose the "features" that he did"?

Without knowing that its hard to work through his material to falsify the work.

If all we have is pattern recognition, then the material is interesting but non-conclusive from a probability standpoint.

If we have several independent variables that are dependent on some other criteria that REQUIRES them to work out in a specific pattern, then the pattern is a proof and we can legitimately calculate probability form it.

What I suspect has happened, is that there are some legitimate structural features that should be evaluated, but in his zeal to document pattern Panin may have overstated the probability. I think that doing that was an accident, and I'd love to see it properly evaluated and the corrected probability for random placement reported.

Seems like there is more to this than cherry picking.

He has identified something that if the right letter or two is changed it disappears. It would be exceedingly difficult for a man to write this way.

I think you are correct.

The pattern data is there. The issue that I think needs deeper examination is his reasons for picking the criteria he used. It's logical that at first he just noticed pattern, but after that he proceeded to check out the entire Bible, so there has to be some underling reason and methodology.

Panin published other works that were not related to numerology. I've seen some of it available on the net. Most of his numerology stuff that appears to be more in depth is in hard cover and I'll have to buy it to get more info.

Res, you know my wife's name, yes?

Her first name has 4 letters.

Her last name has 4 letters.

The first letter of her first name and the first letter of her last name add up to a multiple of 4.

The last letter of her first name and the last letter of her last name also add up to a multiple of 4.

Her birth month is a multiple of 4, and the letters that form it also add up to a multiple of 4.

Her birth day is a multiple of 4.

The digits of her birth year add up to a multiple of 4.

The address of her first hair salon is a multiple of 4; when you divide it by 4, the result is the birth year of her husband (me).

The address of her second hair salon is also a multiple of 4.

Starting to see a pattern, here?

============

This is but a very simple demonstration of the process, and 4 is easier to find than 7. But I could go on and on and on and continue to find multiples of 4 in every aspect of her life, because patterns emerge when you look for them. And when I calculate the probability of all of these values being multiples of 4, I will also arrive at a statistically small number. That does not mean it has significance, however...well, unless you're a Calvinist, I suppose.

I'm not saying that the data pattern isn't there in the Bible...I'm only suggesting that patterns exist in

everything, especially when you selectively discard those elements that do not. The example of the nouns in Feature 11 demonstrates this concept.============

Giraffe: "Seems like there is more to this than cherry picking."Did you notice that I did

notclaim that the actual birth year of my wife was a multiple of 4?WB,

Yes and if you take her 4 and multiply it by two she is an "8" (not bad for a women in her 50's) if you add the number of children she has to the 8 you get a 10, which is what you better tell her she is if you want to stay in her good graces. :-)

I don't know what the significance of Panin's work is. I would have to know several more details than what I've been able to find on line. I do know that certain numbers have throughout human history had certain religious significance. I saw an interesting bit about Satan and the number 13, for example.

I think the work is interesting. I'm not sure what the value of it is, or if it could convince someone of a deeper truth. I think those that want to find meaning in it will and those who want to find a way to rationalize it will also. I'm not saying that someone hasn't falsified his premises, but if they have I haven't found a solid rebuttal. I have seen several people advance arguments along the line of those you are; random chance, universal patterns, etc.

Dr. Panin spent 50 years to produce over 43,000 pages of calculations and data. Clearly he thought there was something to it. By contrast the largest big print bible in my house runs less than 1300 pages. Considering that he did this work before computers and wide spread of electricity, his scholarship on the subject is considerable. I would be interested in reading a solid falsification of his work, or at this point, a solid synopsis of the work so I could better understand the endeavor. Either way, its not like I have the time to dive into that big of a project. That job is more along the lines of what a PHD in Statistics should do for a dissertation.

7 has significance in the text of Scripture, it isn't just a number pulled out of thin air.

Res Ipsa: "I do know that certain numbers have throughout human history had certain religious significance."You are correct. But I wonder about the "chicken or the egg" nature -- was any given number religiously significant before it was found in particular patterns, or did it become religiously significant because it was found?

Giraffe: "7 has significance in the text of Scripture, it isn't just a number pulled out of thin air."Also correct. But so do several other numbers, starting with 1.

Again, the "chicken or the egg" question: did 7 hold biblical signficance more than other numbers before Panin went looking for it in Scripture, or did it gain that significance after he found it? In other words, did he specifically look for 7 or did he look for a pattern and found 7?

Res Ipsa: "I would be interested in reading a solid falsification of his work"Here is another analysis, which goes far beyond mine. It demonstrates exactly what I expected to see, that not all of the Bible matches the pattern as Panin claimed. This gentleman's analysis would carry far more credence than mine, since he actually analyzed the original Greek and I did not.

He also criticizes Panin's methodology, such as using different numerical values for a letter (gematria), depending on the circumstances. Like the errors in methodology which I pointed out, this is more cherry-picking, fitting the methodology to the data rather than the other way around.

I'm not trying to convince anyone that Biblical numerology is wrong, per se. Only that Panin's analysis is not as bulletproof and inerrant as the numberical apologists would have you believe.

To put that paper in context, here is the original post from whence comes the linked PDF file. Some of the comments under it were interesting, as well.

More background on the author:

Peter W. Dunn is a scholar of early Christianity and a DIY investor; he is married to Catherine J. Dunn. They live in Ontario, Canada. They have two too many cats.

A selected bibliography of P. W. Dunn on the interweb

Peter (a.k.a. Petros) blogs at πετροστελος, Righteous Investor, the Isaac Brock Society and Acta Pauli.

“Testing Pauline Pseudonymity: 3 Corinthians and the Pastoral Epistles Compared“, (pdf) Proceedings: Eastern Great Lakes and Midwest Biblical Societies (2000), 63-68.

“The charistmatic gifts in the Acts of Paul: second century trends”, in the Conference Papers for the 29th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Northwest College, Kirkland, 2000.

“The influence of 1 Corinthians on the Acts of Paul“, Society of Biblical Literature 1996 Seminar Papers (Atlanta: Scholars Press), 438-454, with minor corrections.

The Acts of Paul and the Pauline Legacy in the Second Century, PhD dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1996.

“Les Actes de Paul et l’héritage paulinien“, paper presented at the annual meeting of AELAC, Dole, France, 1994.

Matthew 18.15-20 in the light of the Dead Sea Scrolls, MCS Thesis, Regent College (Vancouver, B.C.) 1991.

Not sure if he got his PhD or not, but the fact that he did a dissertation for it shows he has far more Biblical scholarship than me, as well as all of those other published papers.

Thanks I'll read them.

WB,

That was the best critic of the work that I've read on the web.

I was writing a different response on numerology and blogger ate it. Panin's work should be considered separately from biblical numerology in general. Panin is of course dependent on the subject as a whole, however other aspects of the topic can be considered apart from his work.

I was a little disappointed in that critic for a couple of reasons, (his footnote states he didn't use the same source text) but the end result is the same.

I guess it boils down to:

1. Panin did a boat load of work, that you have to posses a working knowledge of two dead languages to get into.

2. Nobody seems to really understand the method or reason behind the methodology (if there is one).

3. It would take a boat load of work to falsify/prove his original work.

4. There is a lack of researchers who have both the skill set and the interest in doing that work.

5. Even with computers it would take a long time to compile, sort and analyze the data, making the project unrealistic.

I suspect that it would take a good team 18 moths to 2 years just to set up the analytic tools to research the materials. Who knows how long it would take after that to actually do the work? There very well may be some sort of pattern or code hidden in the text that authenticates, unfortunately I don't see anyway to demonstrate that from what I've learned from Panin this far. I may try to get one of his books in hard copy and see if it sheds any light on the topic. I'm probably not going to start reading Greek and Hebrew this afternoon, so I doubt I'll be doing any of the more serious scholarship anytime soon.

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