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Math and the Bible

Date: 01/24/2002 at 12:38:36
From: Elissa 
Subject: Math and Biblical Integration

How would you explain how I, as a future teacher, will be able to 
integrate math and the Bible? I am going to be a Lutheran Elementary 
Education teacher and for one of the classes that I am taking I need 
to do a paper on how to bring math and the Bible together.

I have searched all different kinds of web sites and nothing has had 
anything about this. If you could help, that would be wonderful.


Date: 01/25/2002 at 18:35:52
From: Doctor Ian
Subject: Re: Math and Biblical Integration

Hi Elissa,

There's really not much of a connection between math and the Bible, so 
anything you do is going to be a bit of a stretch. 

The simplest approach, I suppose, would be to treat the stories in the 
Bible as your 'real world' when making up math problems. For example:

* If you need to set up a rate-time-distance problem, instead of 
talking about trains leaving Chicago and New York, you could ask how 
long it would take for a King in a caravan to overtake three wise men 
walking by foot.  

* If you need to assign a list of numbers to be factored into primes, 
you might use the list of ages in Genesis 5.  

* For practice in addition and subtraction, you might ask students to 
figure out how many years passed between the birth of any two of the 
generations of Adam (Enos and Jared, for example). Or you could ask 
them to figure out how many of each kind of animal would have to be 
sacrificed during a given year according to the rules in Numbers 7.

* For practice in multiplication, you could ask them to figure out how 
many seconds are in 40 days and 40 nights, or how much wood would have 
been needed to build Noah's ark. Or, when Jesus says that one should 
forgive his brother 70 times 7 times, you could ask the students to 
work out how long, in years, that would take at a rate of one 
forgiveness per week. 

* For practice in geometry, you might ask them to figure out how much 
rain would be required to cover the entire earth to the height of 
Mount Ararat. (That would give them practice looking up geographical 
facts as well, such as the radius of the earth and the heights of 

* For practice in exponents and logarithms, you could consider things 
like how many times four loaves would have to be divided to feed a 
multitude of a given size.  

For just about any math problem that you could find in a standard 
textbook, it should be straightforward to translate it into a 
situation involving the the characters and events in the Bible.  

Ideally, you could let your students help out. Once you've introduced 
a new concept (say, multiplication) that you'll be studying, let 
_them_ search for potential problem material. That way, they'll be 
reading the Bible while they search, which will give them more 
familiarity with the text; and helping to make up their own problems 
will give them deeper insight into the math that they're learning. I 
don't think you could hope for more integration than that. 

Does this help? 

- Doctor Ian, The Math Forum   

Date: 01/26/2002 at 09:07:21
From: Elissa 
Subject: Math and Biblical Integration

Thank you, Dr. Math. What you have sent me really helps. 

God's blessings,
Elissa Bury
Associated Topics:
High School About Math
Middle School About Math

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