In existographies, isopsephy, from iso-, meaning: “equal” + -psephos, meaning: “pebbles”, pronounced “I-soap-sefy”, later called “gematria” (or word geometry), by the Jews, or the "alphanumeric method" (Acevedo, 2020), refers to the ancient art, practiced from the 600BC to the high middle ages (1000 to 1250 ACM), of using the numerical value of each letter, latter values varying according to whether the Greek alphabet or Hebrew alphabet is employed, to make two or more words have the same “numerical value”, when the value of each letter in a given name or word is summed.
In 2500BC, Egyptians, in their concept or model of the human (see: Egyptian human), employed the logic that each person or god had a "secret name", and that if one came to know the secret name of another person or god, then they would have power over them. The Egyptians were also the main historical founders of mathematics and geometry; although, to note, little of their mathematical principles are known.
In 1000BC, the Greek alphabet was formed, and coded such that each letter had a certain philosophical and numerical meaning, e.g. the letter "E" is the second Greek vowel, symbolic of the sun being the second planet in Greek cosmology; and "theta", symbol "Θ", code for the Heliopolis sun god symbol, numerical value "9", code for the Heliopolis Ennead, and that the sum of the numerical values of the letters of the word theta are "318", which translates or is "numerically equivalent" to the word "Helios", the Greek sun god.
In c.850BC, all the Greeks began to travel to the Egyptian universities of Heliopolis and Memphis, to study under the Egyptian scholars. Hence, it can be conjectured that during this period, of 1200 to 800BC, with the rise of the Greek civilization, words were coded, numerically, with "secret word", or double meaning, that could be translated backwards and forwards, via their numerical sum.
In 520BC, Pythagoras was using isopsephy, e.g. he knew the amicable numbers, and according to Iamblichus, his existographer, he was using isopsephy in his numbering system:
- “The mark which signifies the monad is the source of all things. And it reveals its kinship with the sun in summation of its name: the word ‘monad’ when added up yields 361, which are the degrees of the zodiacal circle.”
In 380BC, Plato, in his Cratylus, a book on the “correctness of names”, based on the philosopher Cratylus, who according to Aristotle, was an early influence on Plato, alludes, supposedly, to the art of isopsephy.
In 200BC, Apollonius was multiplying the letter values of in sentences together, to make symbolic numerical value meanings.
In 900BC to 300BC, with the rise of the Jewish civilization, the Hebrew alphabet was formed, which employed a similar type of numerical coding of words, called "Gematria", either borrowed from the Greeks, or derived from the Egyptians. In this period, with the rise of the Hindu civilization, the numerical coding of words arose in a similar fashion. In this mix, there was a certain amount of cross-cultural transmission of this technique. Hence, the words Abram and Brahma, the supreme gods of Judaism and Hinduism, are each "numerically equivalent", as pointed out by Charles King (1864).
The following are related quotes:
- “Every Greek and Hebrew word has thus two values: its numeric value and its place value.”
- — Ivan Panin (1910), The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (pg. 5)
- Acevedo, Juan. (2020). Alphanumeric Cosmology, From Greek into Arabic: The Idea of Stoicheia Through the Medieval Mediterranean. Mohr.
- Barry, Kieren. (1999). The Greek Qabalah: Alphabetic Mysticism and Numerology in the Ancient World (pdf) (pgs. 65-66). Weiser.
- (a) King, Charles. (1864). The Gnostics and Their Remains (243 numbers, pg. 13). Publisher.
(b) Blavatsky, Helena. (1897). The Secret Doctrine, Volume Three (pg. 103). Publisher.
(c) Hotema, Hilton. (1963). Secret of Regeneration (pg. 137). Publisher.
- Panin, Ivan. (1910). The Last Twelve Verses of Mark (Isopsephy overview, pgs. 4-5). Publisher.
- Iamblichus. (c.310). The Theology of Arithmetic: On the Mystical, Mathematical and Cosmological Symbolism of the First Ten Numbers (translator: Robin Waterfield) (Prometheus, pg. 38). Red Wheel, 1988.
- Isopsephy – Wikipedia.