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DEFENDING  THE  BRIDE

 

 
Print Free Pamphlet - - Brief Summary

Why  153  Fish  in  John  21:11  ?

Sections :

Introduction
Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Fish
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea
Conclusion

 

The Fish

John goes even a step further to reinforce the connection to Greek wisdom.  Besides the conspicuous use of the term children, and the obvious reference to the very unique number of 153, which we find so prominently in Archimedes’ work on Pi, John gives us three more clues below.

Authors often use repetition to get the reader’s attention of an implied symbolic meaning.  John uses 8 references to fish and 8 references to the measure of the fish in these 11 verses.  John only makes 4 other references to fish in all his 20 other chapters.

8 References to Fish

Verses 6, 8, and 11 use a common word for fish, Greek  ιχθυων [Strong’s number 2486,  ΙΧΘΥΣ (Ichthys)]
Verses 9, 10, and 13 use a different word for fish [Strong’s number 3795]
Verses 3 and 5 imply fish because of their context.  See RSV translation.

This gives us a total of 8 references to the word fish.

8 References to Measure of the Fish

We also see a total of 8 references to the measure of the fish in terms of its quantity and size. In verse 11 alone we see 3 of these besides the number 153.

Verse 3 States “they caught nothing.”
Verse 5
In response to Jesus’ question do they have any fish “They answered him, “No.”
Verse 6
 States they were not able to haul in the net because of “the quantity of fish.”
Verse 8
 States they were dragging the net and it’s described as “the net full of fish”
Verse 11
  Describes the net of fish as “full” and the fish as “large” and the net was not torn even though the fish “were so many” and it gives the total measure as “153.”



153 Fish John's Gospel 21

John 21:3-14
3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
5 Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.”
6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish.
7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.
8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”
11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.
12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.
14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”  RSV

 

While this repetition would have most likely gone unnoticed during a first reading the Greek person reading John’s Gospel would have recognized the very specific and unique number 153 as it is associated with Archimedes’ work on Pi.  With his curiosity perked he would have noticed this passage more closely and then noticed the eightfold repetition of the word for fish and the eightfold repetition of the measure of the fish. 

Because of the culture of the Greeks placed such a high value on mathematical wisdom, the Greeks also highly esteemed Euclid and Pythagoras.  By using this eightfold reference to fish and to its measure John is able to bring out a secondary reference.

The Greeks would notice the connection to Euclid’s work Elements, Book 1, Proposition 1, where he constructs two circles whose intersection is in the shape of fish. The width to the height ratio of this fish is the square root of 3. 

 

 

 

This would cause the Greek reader to recognize that John was referring to the Pythagoreans, and to Euclid, as well as to Archimedes, and in essences all Greek wisdom.

It was an allusion to Euclid because it was in his book Elements which has this diagram of the fish.

See Euclid’s Elements

It was also an allusion to the Pythagoreans because it was by their formula the measurement of this fish, the ratio of the width to the height, was determined and found to equal the square root of three. [ See next section to see this calculation, See  Calculating the Measure of the Fish ]  And it was an allusion to Archimedes who seems to be the first person to use the ratio of

as an approximation for the square root of three.

Without the primary allusion of 153 to Archimedes’ work on the value for Pi, the Greeks could not have known with certainty that John intended this tenuous and secondary allusion to the square root of three.

Using 153 as a secondary allusion to the square root of three would have been somewhat vague at first.  This is because 153 was only one of the four different numbers used to approximate the value of  √3.

All four numbers are seen in these two fractions..    

So, the appearance of 153 in one of these two fractions could have been just coincidental with John’s use of it.  And perhaps more importantly, without the primary allusion to Archimedes work on Pi, John could not have known the Greeks would not dismiss this allusion as coincidental.

Whereas, 153 is uniquely conspicuous as a clear reference to Archimedes’ work on Pi.

When we see this secondary allusion then in becomes even clearer to what John was wanting to allude.   It was to all wisdom, and especially the wisdom of the Greeks, and most especially the wisdom of Archimedes who represents the epitome of Greek wisdom. 

It is interesting that John makes an  (8)  eightfold repetition and that he does this (2)  twice over. The most distinctive doctrine of Christianity as opposed to the pagan Greeks was the doctrine of the Incarnation where God becomes Man and Jesus takes upon Himself a  (2)  second nature.  And the most compelling reason to accept Christianity was the Resurrection from the dead which happened on the day after the Sabbath, or on the  (8)  eighth day.  

Third Clue:
   
And just to be sure John goes on to give us another clue. 
John specifically refers to this as the 3rd time Christ appeared to the Apostles in John 21:14.  John makes sure we are thinking about this number 3. 

There are multiply reasons of how John could have been using his reference to the number 3 to as an association with wisdom, and especially that of Archimedes.

Reason #1.
3 - An allusion to Wisdom  ?

The 3rd Person of Trinity, the Holy Spirit, is closely associated with Wisdom

Sirach 1: 1-9 
“All wisdom comes from the LORD
… he created her through the Holy Spirit”
[See Jerome’s translation of the Old Testament for Sirach (Ecclesiasticus – meaning “Church Book”)]

The pagan Greeks believed in many gods.  John was teaching the Christian message of the One Trinitarian God.    Wisdom is the first of seven of the gift of the spirit, see  Isaiah 11:2.  Wisdom is called the first and highest gift of the Holy Spirit.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, states :

“ …  He made all things by himself, that is, by his Word and by his Wisdom,” “by the Son and the Spirit” ...”   CCC 292 

 

Reason #2, #3, #4

The following 3 reasons could be an association by John with the best known manifestation of man’s natural wisdom in the Greek world, Archimedes’s work on Pi, which the Greeks would have highly esteemed.

Reason #2.
The Bible and 3  -  an allusion to Pi and therefore to Archimedes’ work on Pi ?

1 Kings 7:23 suggests that Pi, π ,  is equal to 3. 

1 Kings 7:23
“ … it was round, ten cubits from brim to brim, … and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference.”   
The length of the circumference of a circle is equal to π time the length of its diameter.   
C = π • D.  Therefore, Pi, π, is about 3.

 
Reason #3.
The number 3  -  an allusion to  √3 ?  The equation listing its rational approximation ends with the number 153.  Archimedes uses that approximation.

 

 

 

Reason #4.  
The number 3  -  an allusion to  Archimedes’ 3rd Proposition ? 

Interestingly, it is Archimedes’ 3rd Proposition where he solved for the value of π.  Is John wanting the Greeks to make the connection between the number 3 and Archimedes’ third proposition ?  

Is there a connection between the number 3 and Archimedes’ wisdom ?  Between the number 3 and the √3  and the number 153 ?

 

Read :
The Number 153 Was Very Prominent and Recognizable in Ancient Greek Culture

 

Continue ...
See  Calculating the Measure of the Fish


 

Sections :

Introduction
Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Fish
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea
Conclusion

 

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