Many people—mathematicians mostly—prefer numbers to words. Just why that is, I’ve never been able to cipher. But I’m sure there are some readers of Eutychus who would rather balance a checkbook than read one. There are even some people who think you can understand the Bible more by its numbers than its words. Certainly for testing the theological tenor of Eutychus this is true. Just how theological is number nine?

The editors of The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible don’t seem to think much of the theological pretensions of nine. But what do they know? I think nine is theological. It rates more attention than just noting that nine is one less than ten. Why should ten be so much more sacred? (Let’s ignore the fact that we have ten each of fingers and toes. I never heard that those appendages were so holy, though Jesus did mention something about offending hands and their cure.)

Now, I’ll go a certain way down the ledger with the IDB. Nine may not carry the same theological weight as three. We all know that three stands for the Trinity and can’t be divided and means completion. Also, nine might not be as important as one, which symbolizes God. Then there’s seven. It’s not only a lucky number, but right up there at the top of the sacred numerical system. But once you pass them, I modestly submit that nine has significant theological connotations, particularly for staunch trinitarians who do everything in threes. Anyway, one and three and seven have all been taken by previous Eutychi, so I’ll just have to make do with nine.

Look at that number. It’s a drawback that nine can be divided, but at least it’s divided by three. In fact, nine can be divided by three threes. That makes it three times more like the Trinity than three ...

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