It’s unfortunate that in recent years the ‘Da Vinci Code phenomenon’ has sensationalized and thereby trivialized the reality of multiple levels of information in ancient texts. Such levels exist. But they are not the sensationalized “code” of national bestsellers or Hollywood scripts. The Dimensions of Paradise by John Michell is a work about the underlying information in the biblical book of Revelation, specifically the 21st chapter and the measurements of The New Jerusalem. It follows along lines of ancient cosmology and language, not modern superstitions about the end of the world.
Unlike the mistaken way most interpreters grapple with Revelation, i.e. as if it were written to foretell the future, Michell approaches the text with something of the mind of the ancient Hellenistic world. As a student of Platonic philosophy and the religious spirit of that time, he doesn’t make the mistake of reading a text concerned with eternal principles as if it were concerned with mere historical prediction. He doesn’t approach the text as if it were written for the modern mind.
Michell’s interpretation of the symbols in Revelation begins with the ancient alpha-numeric science called “gematria.” Many ancient languages, including the Greek in which Revelation is written, contain alphabets whose characters function not only as phonetic symbol, but numeric value as well. In Greek, for example, there is no separate system of numeration. If an ancient Greek writer wanted to short-hand a numeric value, he would string together a group of appropriate letters. Because of this phenomenon then, every word in the language equates to a number value. This word-number correlation gave rise to a system of encoding information through names, words, and phrases in a text that isn’t visible through the surface story, and is lost entirely in translation. Michell understands this ancient method and uses it to unravel key information from the text. He explains each step as he goes along.
Michell’s major contention is that the measurements of the New Jerusalem reflect a standard set of dimensions applied to numerous physical sites around the world, such as Stonehenge, as well as other mythical sites such as Plato’s imagined city of Magnesia. This standard set of dimensions he terms the “Greek number canon.” He dedicates an entire chapter to the major numbers of this canon and what they symbolize. This canonization of number and proportion was intended to radiate into every aspect of society: art, education, architecture, and law. If followed without deviation, civilization could expect continued health and prosperity.
This book will be more enjoyable for English readers who can read some ancient Greek. It’s not written exclusively for those folks, however, as Michell translates the Greek words and phrase appearing in his book. It’s written for anyone interested in the subjects of ancient cosmology, Greek number science, and biblical symbolism.