153 Fish Bible. 153 Large Fish in John Bible - John explains his purpose for the use of 153 Fish, 153 large fish in John 21:11, as a metaphor.  Bible points to the context.


Print Free Pamphlet - - Brief Summary  153 large fish John bible meaning significance of the atch draught. Archimedes

    Why  153  Fish  in  John  21:11  ?

What is the meaning and significance or symbolism of the number 153 large fish in John’s Gospel, the Bible. Archimedes Euclid Pythagoras Pythagoreans.m, that John’s Gospel records how Jesus and the disciples caught 153 large fish in the miraculous catch of John 21 ? What is the Catholic Church Fathers tradition ? 153 large fish is metaphor for wisdom.

Sections :

Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea


Archimedes : Context of Time and Place

Greek  Culture


It is necessary to understand the cultural context of the time and place when John's Gospel was written. He used the literal event of the 153 fish in John 21 to doubled as simple metaphor.

We must not assume our modern cultural standards were the same as John’s.  We need to train ourselves to look from John’s perspective. 
John’s Gospel is commonly dated as the last one written.  The Church at this point was already actively reaching out to the Greeks. 


We need to look through the eyes of a Jewish fisherman who converted to Christianity, who was writing a Greek Gospel, from the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, at a time in history when the Church was fully engaged at trying to help convert the Greeks to the Gospel. 


St. Irenaeus tells us the Apostle John lived in Asia and expressly declares that he wrote his Gospel at Ephesus
    ( Irenaeus Against Heresies III.1.1)


This area of the world had been heavily influenced by Greek culture even before Alexander the Great (died 323 BC)
 had conquered this whole area all the way down into Egypt. 


It was only later that the Romans came, but they still used Greek.  Pilate had his inscription on Jesus’ cross translated into Hebrew and Latin, but also into Greek.  Cf.  John 19:19-20. 


The Old Testament translation that was most often used by the New Testament writers was the Greek Septuagint rather than the Hebrew text..  And much, if not all the New Testament was written in Greek.


Understanding the Greek culture of this time holds the key to understanding what John meant by 153 fish. 


As will be explained later, the sequence 3.14 would have appeared as a completely random number with no significance to the Greeks in the first century.   And conversely, the number 153 which seems to be a totally random sequence in today’s culture would have been very recognizable to the common Greek man in the first century.  So, John could easily use it as a metaphor without the need to explain its meaning.

The Greeks

To understand why John does not explain his metaphor and why his meaning would have been obvious to the Greeks, we need to understand what the Greeks valued.

What do we know about the Greeks ?


Greeks and Wisdom

The Greek culture esteemed natural wisdom, which includes mathematics. 
Later we will examine 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 and its connection to John
s use of 153 Fish.


Greek Mathematicians

One of the most important characteristics of the Pythagorean order was that it maintained that the pursuit of philosophical and mathematical studies was a moral basis for the conduct of life. Indeed, the words philosophy (love of wisdom) and mathematics (that which is learned) are said to have been coined by Pythagoras.


The Greeks excelled in natural philosophy and mathematics. They are even credited for creating the world’s oldest mechanical computer in about 100 BC.  Their culture esteemed their philosophical and mathematical heroes. 


Archimedes was their greatest mathematician and his work on Pi was his most influential, and most used work. 


Because of their national pride they would have wanted to know about his new method for calculating Pi that separated him, and in essence all Greek culture, from all who preceded him. 


A few hundred years earlier, the Pythagoreans had made a ground breaking discovery and proved what is now called Pythagorean theorem.  Pythagoras was from Samos, just off the coast of Ephesus.


This enabled mathematicians to calculate the sides of a right triangle. Building on that in the 3rd century BC, was the greatest mathematician of antiquity, Archimedes.  He was able to compute with great accuracy the value of pi, π, using the value of the square root of 3 in his calculations. 


Archimedes’ Wisdom

Archimedes, in his book the Measurement of a Circle, Proposition 3, provided an entirely new, ingenious, and accurate method for solving for the value of Pi.  His method did not involve any measurements and was based entirely on mathematical calculations.  It allowed a person to calculate Pi with as much accuracy as one desired.


He began by using √3 and the ratio  265:153.  This ratio represents the most accurate value of √3  that can be expressed by using small whole numbers.



Archimedes : Measurement of a Circle : Proposition 3.


Here Archimedes begins his calculations on solving for π, Pi, the measurement of the circumference of a circle divided by its diameter. Notice how frequently the number 153 is used.


In the first section, Archimedes calculates Pi to be slightly less than 3 and one seventh.





Archimedes gives the following ten  equations:















And notice above that almost all the equations end with the number “153.”   
 And, since the final number 14688 could be expressed as the product of
 96 x 153,  even equation 10 could be expressed as:





Final Conclusion:






See  Complete Quotation of Archimedes First Section on Pi, π.


Notice above, that in his calculations for the value of Pi, Archimedes solves for the value of 10 different ratios of line segments.  He calculates their values to be the 10 mathematical equations above. 


If all the mathematical steps had been written out it would be over 15 pages long.  However, Archimedes just tells how to construct his diagram and the rest of his work consists of only a little more than the ten conclusions, or ten statements above. 


Even with the 15 pages of calculations -  that apparently Archimedes did in his head -   it is quite amazing that most all these equations end with the number 153. 

(Although, the tenth equation does not have 153 in Archimedes’ original text the equation that I have labeled as number nine is stated twice by Archimedes, so we still have at least 10 citations, and usually several more depending on how another author might explain Archimedes’ work.)


Is this by pure chance ? 

Or, rather, it is an indication of the brilliance and the simplicity of the design of Archimedes’ solution for solving for Pi, π, where he uses 153 as the key denominator to which he brings his equations to express. 


Why is John’s allusion to Archimedes work not usually recognized ?
Horizontal  Fraction  Bar : 
Linear verses Professional Format


It would be a mistake to only look at Archimedes’ work written using modern notation.


The early Greeks did not have the horizontal fraction bar commonly used today.  They wrote their fractions or ratios in linear form, as seen in the equations above.  


The use of the horizontal fraction bar came much later. The horizontal fraction bar is first attested in the work of Al-Hassār in A.D. 12th Century.  See Wikipedia Source.  

More details on :  Horizontal Fraction Bar  and  153


For example, equation 10 expressed in linear form above is more likely to be expressed today in modern “Professional” format as seen below.






Fractions, or ratios, expressed in modern format using the horizontal bar causes the number 153 to be less conspicuous. 


And so, in modern times the number 153 seems to get lost in the midst of all the other numbers.


This could not have been the case at the time John wrote his Gospel.  In his time only the linear format could have been used.


So, this means that Archimedes would write the denominator, 153, at the end of his conclusions, at the end of his equations.  This made his use of the number 153 much more prominent. 


And the important point here, is that Archimedes prominent use of the number 153 made it very easy for St. John the Evangelist to allude to Archimedes’ wisdom, and by extension to all wisdom, by using that number, 153, in his Gospel, cf. John 21:11.


See : Archimedes Math Made Simple and Easy:
A detailed explanation of each mathematical step.


See  image below of Archimedes’ work, translated into English

153 Large Fish John  


There is a red underscore to each reference to “153.”


See  Complete Quotation of Archimedes First Section on Pi, π
See : Archimedes Math Made Simple and Easy:  A detailed explanation of each mathematical step.


In the Introduction, Chapter 4, page lxix, the  author of the above image, T. Heath, and expert on Archimedes explains the Greek numbering system.  He picks a “random” number to give an example on how they wrote numbers. 


And this random number just happens to be, yes you guessed it, 153.  In other words, you cannot read through Archimedes work without recognizing the significance of this key number, 153.


When the Greeks read John’s Greek Gospel and saw his reference to 153 they could not but help think of Archimedes, and his greatest work in terms of what had the greatest influence on others, his work on π, Pi.  Pi is even called Archimedes’ constant.


Archimedes is  “Generally considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time,[3][4]


The Greeks would have recognized that by John referring   to “153,” John was alluding to all wisdom, but especially that of the Greeks as represented by Archimedes and his work on the calculations for the value of π.


Continue ...
Greeks and Wisdom


Sections :

Church Fathers : Sts. Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Cyril A.
No Reason ?
Why Church Fathers’ Answers Could Not Be John’s
Problems with Square Root of 3 Answer
Context Points to the Answer : An Explanation That Works
Archimedes : Context of Time and Place
Greeks and Wisdom
Calculating the Measure of the Fish
John’s Purpose
Why Church Fathers Did Not (could not?) Give John’s Idea


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