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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
On Christian Doctrine: Chapter 35

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 35.—The Fifth Rule of Tichonius.

50.  The fifth rule Tichonius lays down is one he designates of times,—a rule by which we can frequently discover or conjecture quantities of time which are not expressly mentioned in Scripture.  And he says that this rule applies in two ways:  either to the figure of speech called synecdoche, or to legitimate numbers.  The figure synecdoche either puts the part for the whole, or the whole for the part.  As, for example, in reference to the time when, in the presence of only three of His disciples, our Lord was transfigured on the mount, so that His face shone as the sun, and His raiment was white as snow, one evangelist says that this event occurred “after eight days,” 1918 while another says that it occurred “after six days.” 1919   Now both of these statements about the number of days cannot be true, unless we suppose that the writer who says “after eight days,” counted the latter part of the day on which Christ uttered the prediction and the first part of the day on which he showed its fulfillment as two whole days; while the writer who says “after six days,” counted only the whole unbroken days between these two.  This figure of speech, which puts the part for the whole, explains also the great question about the resurrection of Christ.  For unless to the latter part of the day on which He suffered we join the previous night, and count it as a whole day, and to the latter part of the night in which He arose we join the Lord’s day which was just dawning, and count it also a whole day, we cannot make out the three days and three nights during which He foretold that He would be in the heart of the earth. 1920

51.  In the next place, our author calls those numbers legitimate which Holy Scripture more highly favors such as seven, or ten, or twelve, or any of the other numbers which the diligent reader of Scripture soon comes to know.  Now numbers of this sort are often put for time universal; as for example, “Seven times in the day do I praise Thee,” means just the same as “His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” 1921   And their force is exactly the same, either when multiplied by ten, as seventy and seven hundred (whence the seventy years mentioned in Jeremiah may be taken in a spiritual sense for the whole time during which the Church is a sojourner among aliens); 1922 or when multiplied into themselves, as ten into ten gives one hundred, and twelve into twelve gives one hundred and forty-four, which last number is p. 572 used in the Apocalypse to signify the whole body of the saints. 1923   Hence it appears that it is not merely questions about times that are to be settled by these numbers, but that their significance is of much wider application, and extends to many subjects.  That number in the Apocalypse, for example, mentioned above, has not reference to times, but to men.



Luke 9.28.


Matt. 17:1, Mark 9:2.


Matt. 12.40.


Comp. Ps. 119:164, Ps. 34:2.


Jer. 25.11.


Rev. 7.4.

Next: Chapter 36

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