Conservative Christians interested in the Bible and numbers will find this a reassuring introduction; others would do better...


A Christian take on numerology that attempts to demonstrate that God is the sole author of the Bible.

Gannaway explores the significance of numbers in the Old and New Testaments, highlighting their explicit and implicit meanings and bringing to light the metaphorical mathematics strung together across centuries and languages. He does a thorough, admirable job of taking the reader through the single digits, revealing the meaning behind each one and demonstrating how they interact with each other both mathematically and symbolically. He draws out themes of unity, the nature of the Trinity, the end times and humanity’s striving against carnal desires to deepen the reader’s understanding of the Bible. Gannaway is quick to distance his practice from numerology, citing its relationship to witchcraft, while mentioning the long-standing (and apparently not numerological) practices of gematria and isopsephy. This facile distinction is in service of his stated goal: proving God is the sole author of the Bible based, apparently, on the complexity of the book’s math. Gannaway ignores the long history of the study of numbers in his effort to prove that only God could come up with such dazzling and complicated logic as the number one signifying extraordinary things or the number eight symbolizing perfection—conclusions that appear in most numerology systems. The book contains six appendices, including an impressive concordance of where each number appears in the Bible, a cursory glance at the apocrypha and a list of all 613 commandments in the Old Testament. However, his thesis—reiterated didactically at the end of each chapter—falls short of his aims. Gannaway, who teaches classes on biblical symbolism, has an admirable grasp of numerology and a readable, familiar but professional voice. He knows what he’s talking about, even if his book is less academically rigorous than a book of this nature should be.

Conservative Christians interested in the Bible and numbers will find this a reassuring introduction; others would do better with a book more open to non-Christian perspectives.

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2007

ISBN: 978-0595411504

Page Count: 261

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.


A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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