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7627Mika Yakiguchi's Gematria-Analysis in MS. Vat. Gr. 1156

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  • Vox Verax
    Nov 26, 2012
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      In case you did not download Mika Yakiguchi's article from the Electronic British Library Journal (at
      http://www.bl.uk/eblj/2011articles/pdf/ebljarticle132011.pdf ), here is a summary of what she wrote about a gematria-related feature of MS. Vat. Gr. 1156. This lectionary has a page of cruciform text and in the space around the text, which might be expected to be occupied by the usual _IS_ XS_ NIKA, the following things are written:
      NW: Epsilon, Epsilon, Rho, Rho.
      NE: Tau, Tau, Rho, Rho.
      SW: Sigma, Sigma, Rho, Rho.
      SE: Gamma, Gamma, Gamma, Sigma, Sigma.

      Whatever could these letters mean? Naturally she looked for a gematria-based meaning and found that the value of these letters is as follows:
      NW: 210
      NE: 800
      SW: 600
      SE: 409

      And if one were to calculate the gematria-values of the contracted two-letter nomina sacra, _IC_ _XC_ YS_ _QY_ (= Jesus Christ, Son of God), the result is:
      IS = 210
      XS = 800
      US = 600
      QY = 409.

      A neat little discovery.

      Then she took it a step further: the value of the letters in the SW and SE quadrants (600+409), combined, = 1,009. And this is the value of the letters in the name "Keroularios," the patriarch of Constantinople: K+H+R+O+U+L+A+R+I+O+C. And, experimenting a bit more, she discovered that the value of the letters in the NE quadrant (TTRR = 800), plus the value of the letters in the SW quadrant (SSRR = 600), yields a total of 1,400 and this is equal to the numerical value of the letters in the word "Patriarch," that is, P+A+T+R+I+A+R+C+H+S. A possible implication of this is that this lectionary was made for, or in honor of, Patriarch Michael Cerularius.

      +++++++

      Sometimes when paging through manuscripts, one sees little enigmatic inscriptions that look like indecipherable nonsense. "Surely this is idle doodling or pen-testing," one might naturally conclude, and move on. Well not so fast. It occurs to me that it might just be possible that while pen-tests and idle doodles are certainly real and probably almost always just what they appear to be, there is a (slight) chance that embedded among them one might encounter cryptograms, such as the one that Mika Yakiguchi found, which might indicate the initial provenance or ownership of the MS.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.