An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Calculus in the Bible

Chapter 3 of the Book of Ecclesiastes begins with a poem, ‘For everything there is a season: a time to be born and a time to die;’ and concludes ‘a time of war and a time of peace’.

This is very thought-provoking and clear, but verse 5 is not; ‘A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them’.

After puzzling over this I saw that ‘calculus’ is Latin for stones and things became clear. The second half of the verse must mean the collecting of small stones into a heap. Since integration is the summation of many small elements, the second half can be translated ‘there is a time for integral calculus’, so the first half must mean ‘there is a time for differential calculus’.

Ecclesiastes was a teacher of mathematics!

Seen in The Mathematical Gazette November 1998 Volume 82 Number 495

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