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God hides the meaning of life?

Meaning of Life 42

These thoughts are the result of a conversation with a (wishing-to-remain-anonymous-for-this-but-very-happy-to-let-me-publish-the-essence-of-the-conversation) person.

We all know that the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42.

We also know that God has a tendency to hide the meaning of life from us – it is certainly not so straight forward that all people easily agree about it.

So does God hide “42” when it appears in the Bible?

The obvious example of 42 is the generations from Abraham to Christ in Matthew 1:1-17: “all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations”. Making 42.

Well, of course, that is false.

The first two are correct. But from Jechoniah to Jesus, the Messiah is…. count them… 13. Making 41.

We also know about time travel:

An easy way to make money by copyrighting things, then suing the companies who originally copyrighted the thing in the first place.

The Encyclopedia Galactica copied many of its excerpts from the back of cereal boxes adding footnotes so the companies couldn’t sue them. It is ironic that due to time travel the Encyclopedia Galactica went back into time and wrote the passages before the cereal companies, and then went on to sue them for copyright infringement.

So Douglas Adams himself gives the clue as to how God hid 42 from us in the Bible – going back in time to alter the actual number of generations, while Matthew continued to have the original information.

Others (eg PDF) have far more complicated theories – differentiating “Jesus” from “the Messiah”! This approach leads to:

There are some interesting fact concerning the number 42:
1. The angle at which light reflects off water to create a rainbow is 42 degrees. [Me: degrees, of course are a completely arbitrary human construct]
2. The city of Jerusalem covers an area of 42 square miles. [Me: miles are… well you know, see (1) above]
3. The natural vibration frequency of human DNA [Me: I have no idea what this means!]

Alternative theories are: Matthew cannot count. Or, if you have the Bible as word-for-word inspired/dictated by God: God cannot count.

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9 Responses to God hides the meaning of life?

  1. Ha – you might want to count inclusively sometimes. Anyway – 42 is 6 x 7. And 6 is the number of the human, 7 the number of completeness. So 42 represents the complete human. For a study of completeness see Psalm 18 (in a translation that preserves the sound of tmm see 18:24, 26, 31, 33) – This is a nice word to study in the Psalms. It is reflected in the overall frame of Psalm 26, itself strongly reflecting Psalm 1. The ish of Psalm 1 carries through to the two acrostics 111-112 showing again this completeness in God, and tieing completeness to the number of perfection – but one could argue with 8, so keeping the human aspect, I stick with 6*7 = 42.

    • Thanks, Bob. Yes, the points you make are great. Excepting your opening remark – which you need to expand on. Can you show us how to “count inclusively” sometime, please, in the third 14 13. And how does such “counting inclusively” affect the first two – does it make them 15? Blessings.

    • Sorry, Bob, you cannot have it both ways. If you are counting Jechoniah from verse 12 in order to get the fourteen you want in the last section, then you need to similarly count David again at verse 6b and you will… oops… end up with 15! from David to Jechoniah.

      Mark Goodacre’s podcast doesn’t help you at all – he makes no mention of the problem whatsoever.


  2. Yes – of course 3 x 14 is 42 but there are only 40 specific generations – the inner two are counted twice, not by me but by the Author of Matthew. (They counted differently in those days.) And in the translation of Matthew into Hebrew, I noted 42 instances of יָלַד the word used for generations in this context in genesis and for giving birth. (So the Hebrew text made up for the 2 missing from the double counting.) Ergo the meaning of life is 42.

  3. Well, obviously when Noah saw the rainbow he decided to encode the number 42, hence 360 degrees in a circle, which was passed down to us via the builders of the Tower of Babel and Babylon in general.

  4. Since the Romans allowed Matthew to keep his head all those many years he served as a Roman tax accountant, we can be pretty sure that he could count!

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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