The Bible’s Hidden Cosmology (cont.)
By Gordon Strachan
The concept of the “End of Days” is common parlance in America, where between 60 and 100 million Christians believe that it means the end of the world and they can see signs of its approach in the rise of the anti-Christ in the shape of Islamic terrorists and the Axis of Evil. These forces will be pitched against the USA, Britain and Israel - the armies of Christ - and sooner or later they will meet in Israel on the plains of Megiddo at Armageddon as prophesied in Revelation 16:16.
I challenge this modern interpretation of Revelation by uncovering the hidden cosmology in the bible, using a very ancient method which, in various forms, was taken for granted from the early centuries of Christianity to the rise of the scientific revolution in the seventeenth century. Most modern biblical scholarship uses forms of interpretation derived from the eighteenth and nineteenth century enlightenment. These have led to a greater and greater degree of historical scepticism. The method of interpretation that I use is as symbolic as it is literal and as metaphorical as it is sceptical. It distinguishes between history, allegory, parable and myth. In its most definitive form it derived from Plato and Pythagoras and much of the bible is shot through with insights from it. In the Middle Ages it was known as the Quadrivium which, together with the Trivium, formed the Seven Liberal Arts. It formed the basic mindset of those who were responsible for the flowering of the Gothic Culture from the 12th to 15th centuries and also those who led the Italian Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The Trivium consisted of grammar, logic and rhetoric. These were the ancient subjects by which literacy was taught. The Quadrivium consisted of arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy. The distinction between science and the humanities was not so sharp in earlier times. This was not only because the sciences were not so highly developed as they are now, but also because during the many centuries in which the tradition of Plato and Pythagoras dominated, number was thought of as literal and symbolic. Every number was considered to be a quantity and also to have a quality. This applied equally to the bible. Those who take a creationist view of the genesis story for instance, insist that the world was created in six days literally, and that God rested on the seventh day, the Sabbath. It is on this basis, taking each day as 1000 years that dispensationalists believe that the biblical date for the beginning of creation is 4004BC and so we are now entering the seventh millennium which heralds the 1000 year reign of Christ. Very few of these Christians realise the symbolic importance of the number six. But St Augustine and the early Church Fathers believed that God had to create the world in six days because six is a mathematically perfect number and he had to conform to his own rules! Likewise St Augustine saw the beauty of the Trinity in many created things which expressed the harmony of threeness.
For those who know little about the symbolism of the Bible, it will not be easy to understand that a symbol is always symbolic of something. It is never meaningless, arbitrary or fantastic. It always relates to an ancient tradition where the meaning has been generally accepted. It is always objective, never subjective. In the Pythagorean and Platonic Quadrivium, the qualities of numbers as distinct from their quantities were connected to geometric shapes. They were also connected to musical ratios, thus 1:1 represented unison, 1:2 the octave, 2:3 the fifth, 3:4 the fourth etc. These ratios were also embodied in sacred architecture which in all cultures in the ancient world were modelled on the harmonic resonances of music. The biblical structures of the New Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon were prime examples of this. The principles of symbolic number, sacred geometry, harmonic theory and cosmic orientation which they embody are what The Bible’s Hidden Cosmology is all about.