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The Mystery of Numbers (Oxford Paperbacks) Paperback – April 7, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (April 7, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195089197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195089196
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA-- This is not a math book, but rather a journey through time and cultures that focuses on the place of numbers in various human systems. As such, it is entertaining, enlightening, and may even be somewhat unsettling to those who have always dismissed mysticism and numerology as bogus. Shimmel has translated and added to Franz Carl Endres's book of the same name, broadening the scope of the German original. Her introduction, which stands by itself, is a clear, concise, and interesting survey of the history of numbers and their importance to many societies. She covers everything from the origins of our Arabic numbers to modern superstitions and number games, stopping off to explore the Gnostics, mysticism, and Islam. The author continues with a detailed description of the various meanings and symbolism associated with each individual number up to 40, and then includes assorted descriptions from 42-10,000. Each of these chapters is fascinating and includes much detail taken from religion, mythology, daily life, and scientific observation. The book is profusely illustrated with drawings, woodcuts, and designs, and there is an exhaustive bibliography in addition to an excellent index.
- Susan H. Woodcock, Potomac Library, Woodbridge, VA
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"An impressive, intriguing, most scholarly history."--The Key Reporter, (Phi Beta Kappa)

"A delightful cross-cultural romp through the history of number mysticism....By the time you finish this entertaining yet scholarly book, you'll not only be in seventh heaven, you'll understand why."--The New York Times Book Review

"A mine of fact, legend, superstition, history and etymology....Well-designed....Great riches in Schimmel's book." --Canberra Times

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "kingsransom" on October 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a rather odd but very enjoyable book. It begins with a very brief introduction to different number systems and beliefs about numbers, covering the Pythagoreans, gnosticism, the Cabala, Islamic mysticism, medieval numerology and numerical puzzles. The bulk of the book is a kind of encyclopedia of numbers: each of the numbers up to 21 gets its own chapter; after that they are dealt with "en masse".
Each chapter is an unordered and unstructured compilation of beliefs about the subject number, mostly drawn from Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Unfortunately, there is no attempt at cross-cultural comparative analysis or at relating beliefs about numbers to other symbolic systems.
This book might better serve as a reference rather than a complete read. It is very interesting but might be too much for one reading.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Burak Eldem on May 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
What are the roots of the divine "Trinity" concept or what is the secret meaning of Buddha's 3 bodies? Why was Amon-Ra called "The Lord of 4 directions" or why had the god Shiva 4 arms? What is the significance of number 5 in pentagram? Why the star of Israel had six corners? How come the number 13 is believed to bring bad luck in some traditions while in Mayan culture it is one of the essential numbers? Annemarie Schimmel, a specialist on Eastern philosophies, presents a very interesting and entertaining anthology of mysterious numbers in "The Mystery of Numbers". The book follows a linear path and begins with "Number 1" and passes several "stations" of curious numbers along the way. It also has an introduction that gives a summary about the numbering systems of various cultures. You can either keep it on your bookshelf to consult for some specific numbers from time to time, or you can carry it in your pocket and have your daily fun.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth H. Odonnell on March 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is to this date the best book that I have ever read on the subject. It deals with a subject matter that is at once simple and at once infinite- a subject that is unambiguous and clear and at the same time infinitely convoluted- always incomplete, yet perfect by necessity.

In a word, numbers.

I picked up this book in the math section of a local used book store. I was excited by the cover title at first, "The Mystery of Numbers", and so I picked it up and flipped through it. I quickly realized that this book was substantive in information as well as artistic in detail. This book has some sketches especially of things like the Mayan calendar and things of the like. I had to buy the book because mathematical history, theory and mysticism was something that I was just beginning to fancy an interest for.

In any event, I began to read the book and was just impressed. This book is written not only with the vocabulary and descriptive detail and accuracy of an expert- this book is ful of beautiful linguistic novelty.

Annemarie does a brilliant job covering the bases and wowing the reader. Did you know that any multiple of the number 9 can be added within it's self to give you 9! For example..

9x5 = 45---- 4 + 5=9!

9x3 = 27 --- 2 + 7 = 9!

9X10 = 90 ---- 9 + 0 = 9!

One of the few examples I can find to the contrary is 11 x 9 = 99.

This kind of stuff in conjunction with a history of civilizations and religions and the significance of numbers to them is what this book is about. It is not a pseudo-sceince book by any means, claiming any diety or aline race is certainly behind numerical mysticism. This book is a wonderful book written by a scholar from Harvard who very sadly just passed away. I was going to send her an emial and congradualte her on the book but, I was just a little too late.

Do yourself a favor and make sure you read this "1."
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Joey Hall on December 10, 1999
Format: Hardcover
For those of you who are searching for an explanation for all existence, this book is the one, since mathematics is the universal language.This book helps to find patterns of phenomonah such as things that occur by certain number. With this book and a tad of imagination, one can see "how it all is" and go in further pursuit of the truth. This book feeds that intense curiousity of those who are searching. Enjoy........
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By zeroTh on February 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is very interesting reading. I like the author's writing style, the way he wrote about different numbers it's fantastic.
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By Lloyd Wills on January 26, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not what I thought it would be. However, it did give insight into how ancient people and religions regarded numbers. I am an atheist, so the info on how religions viewed numbers was not that important to me, but it is knowledge that I didn't know before, so I appreciate that.
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