Question from New Testament Apocrypha


Maria W

In the New Testament Apocrypha/3.2.2 Epistle of Barnabas/Chapter IX-The Spiritual Meaning of Circumcision: what is the meaning of Ten for I and Eight for H and Three Hundred for T.

Learn then, my children, concerning all things richly, that Abraham, the first who enjoined circumcision, looking forward in spirit to Jesus, practised that rite, having received the mysteries of the three letters. For [the Scripture] saith, "And Abraham circumcised ten, and eight, and three hundred men of his household." What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted-Ten by I, and Eight by H. You have [the initials of the, name of] Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T, he says also, "Three Hundred." He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are worthy.

If you could explain it to us, my Husband and I, we would appreciate it. We do not understand the meaning of the numbers, we do not know what they are symbolizing, and also we do not know the initials of Jesus for "I; H".
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Well, I'll take a stab at the initials of Jesus, from my rather limited knowledge base. In languages such as Latin or Greek which don't have a "j" sound, Jesus' name can be spelled with an "i" : Iesus or Iesous or some variant like that. As for the "h", I know that in Greek "Christ" is spelled with an "x" : Xristos. The x represents the kind of throat-clearing sound found in Greek, Scottish, German, Dutch, Hebrew, and just about any language other than English. Maybe in whatever language Barnabas was translated from, "h" is the established translation for the letter representing that particular sound.

The T representing the cross might be because some groups believe that Jesus was crucified on a T-shaped cross instead of a t-shaped one - i.e., with the crossbeam placed at the very top of the main beam.

That's my reasonable guess, but take it with a grain of salt - anyone more knowledgeable care to set us both straight?