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The Mystery of Numbers (Oxford Paperbacks) Paperback – 1 Feb 1994

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Product details

  • Paperback: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (1 Feb. 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195089197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195089196
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 2.1 x 14 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 471,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


A delightful, cross-cultural romp, through the history of number mysticism... (The New York Times Book Review)

About the Author

Annemarie Schimmel is Professor of Indo-Muslim Culture at Harvard University. A widely-respected scholar of the Near East, she has written numerous books on Islamic literature, religion, and culture.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
This description of the qualities of the mystical One, written by the medieval German mystic Agrippa of Nettesheim around 1500, cannot be considered to be mathematically correct, but it serves to show the importance of the 1 in religious traditions. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stella on 14 Oct. 2011
Format: Paperback
Schimmel's scholarly examination of number and numerology is a refreshing change from the usual fluff. This book does have a Middle Eastern bias since that is her specialist area but it's an absolutely key text for anyone interested in the history of magic.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Complex and Intricate Mysteries Unraveled 5 Oct. 2000
By "kingsransom" - Published on
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An anthology of mysterious numbers 3 May 2002
By Burak Eldem - Published on
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A sense of existential perfection 26 Mar. 2008
By Elizabeth H. Odonnell - Published on
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."
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
For Those In Search of Truth 10 Dec. 1999
By Joey Hall - Published on
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........
Fantastic 1 Feb. 2013
By zeroTh - Published on
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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