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Didaktikon
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Date Posted:19/04/2008 2:48 AMCopy HTML

Good morning, all.

I've been browsing through this extended forum of late, and I thought I might make a recommendation of a book that touches on one of the more "loopy" of Revivalist teachings: Bible Numerics. The reason I've been thinking about doing this, is the fact that many people fail to adequately distinguish between the authentic and appropriate study of numbers in Scripture (i.e. Numerology); from the cock-and-bull cr*p that was taught in the RCI, and continues to feature highly in the RF (i.e. Bible Numerics). The two are often confused, but they are not one and the same thing!

To my knowledge, there is just one responsible (read "scholarly") treatment of this subject in book form that is based a thorough exegesis of the biblical material, and yet remains accessible to the non-specialist. It's written by Professor John Davis of Grace Theological Seminary in the USA, and is published by Baker Books. The title is:

Biblical Numerology: a basic study of the use of numbers in the Bible

The book was first printed in 1968, and has been through 26 subsequent printings (which indicates its continued use and relevance). Importantly, Dr Davis spends some time addressing the "mystical" use of numbers, including the theories and work of old Ivan Panin.

For around $25, one can possess some serious work on the subject of numbers in Scripture Laughing

Blessings,

Ian

P.S. The following quote from the introduction to the book was simply too good to pass up (and not pass on), so I had to come back and edit this post to include it:

    "Statistics of the Bible, like the calculations of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, have a fatal attraction for     cranks and crackpots--even for wise men in their less guarded moments."

'Cranks' and 'crackpots'! Hmmm ... Innocent

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MothandRust Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:19/04/2008 3:55 AMCopy HTML

I have this book.

Davis did admit to some words having interesting gemetria, but concluded they were 'probably' coincidence.

It's an interesting read for discovering where symbolic numerical meanings came from and who gave such symbolism weight... Babylonians, Aramaean, Egyptians, ... the Pythagoreans. He says that there is no conceptual number 'value' given any theological truth in the Old Testament, and that all theological precepts 'must' be traced to Pythagoras. I'm just not quite sure about that right now and I'd have to say I'll need to research that further.

For all the apocalyptic writings, and the Apocrypha and etc. I'm surprised how polished and consistant the number symbolism is in the Bible and some patterning found by Bullinger just seem to gel so well (gemetria aside)... even though Davis suggests that most Post-Apostolic Christian churches who hold by the modern number meanings are picking and choosing, I can't help but to keep wondering about the numerology of it.
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:19/04/2008 4:52 AMCopy HTML

Reply to MothandRust (18/04/2008 21:55:15)

I have this book.

Davis did admit to some words having interesting gemetria, but concluded they were 'probably' coincidence.

It's an interesting read for discovering where symbolic numerical meanings came from and who gave such symbolism weight... Babylonians, Aramaean, Egyptians, ... the Pythagoreans. He says that there is no conceptual number 'value' given any theological truth in the Old Testament, and that all theological precepts 'must' be traced to Pythagoras. I'm just not quite sure about that right now and I'd have to say I'll need to research that further.

For all the apocalyptic writings, and the Apocrypha and etc. I'm surprised how polished and consistant the number symbolism is in the Bible and some patterning found by Bullinger just seem to gel so well (gemetria aside)... even though Davis suggests that most Post-Apostolic Christian churches who hold by the modern number meanings are picking and choosing, I can't help but to keep wondering about the numerology of it.
Hello, Pete.

I assumed that you would likely have a copy, given your past leanings Wink  But it sounds, however, as if you're not yet totally convinced that gematria is nonsense. Do you still hanker for a little Panin, now and then? Laughing

Blessings,

Ian

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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:19/04/2008 12:00 PMCopy HTML

'owdy pardners

Ian, just following on, are you saying that (for instance) the number 5 is not associated with 'grace' etc etc? Sorry if I sound a little ignorant here, but I haven't really thought a great deal about the old 'bible numerics' since leaving Rf & I kind of wondered about the validity of it even then. I'll probably buy the book anyway - although we've run out of room on the bookshelves in both rooms and have started stacking on cupboards now, hmmm... we do love reading and there's just so many great books. My husband & I counted our Bibles the other day when we were searching a scripture and we're up to 10 now (of which only 2 are our old KJV's). It's good to be able to compare each translation when looking at a particular scripture.  I often think about undertaking formal study but couldn't really commit the time right now - retirement is looking more and more exciting for me these days.

God bless, Urch

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.
Didaktikon Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #4
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:19/04/2008 1:29 PMCopy HTML

Hi, Urch.

Ian, just following on, are you saying that (for instance) the number 5  is not associated with 'grace' etc etc? Sorry if I sound a little ignorant here, but I haven't really thought a great deal about the old 'bible numerics' since leaving Rf & I kind of wondered about the validity of it even then.

And that's probably not a bad thing!

I'll probably buy the book anyway -  although we've run out of room on the bookshelves in both rooms and have started stacking on cupboards now, hmmm...  we do love reading and there's just so many great books.

I know the feeling! I've filled two 7' x 5' bookcases, I've got over 10 boxes full of books stacked in the garage, an entire cupboard stacked floor to ceiling, and I've given away over 300 theological books in the last five years!

My husband & I  counted our Bibles the other day when we were searching a scripture and we're up to 10 now (of which only 2 are our old KJV's). It's good to be able to compare each translation when looking at a particular scripture.  I often  think about undertaking formal study but couldn't really commit the time right now - retirement is looking more and more exciting for me these days.

Something to look forward to, then.

Blessings,

Ian
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:19/04/2008 4:01 PMCopy HTML

Reply to Ian:

I assumed that you would likely have a copy, given your past leanings Wink  But it sounds, however, as if you're not yet totally convinced that gematria is nonsense. Do you still hanker for a little Panin, now and then?

Nah, I found Panin a little tedious, I'm more of a Bullinger fan,  and although I do think there is some merit to some of Panin's study, he seemed to go far too deep. So -but- yeah, I'm not 'totally' convinced there is nothing to be gained from gemetria... from my 'believer's' outlook that is. I haven't placed any negative absolutes on it as yet. Jesus equalling 888 is alone a fun coincidence...

I never took on the 'Bible-Code' crap and discarded that fairly quickly. I don't see that there should be any hidden messages in the bible that can't be found in the surface context. I don't think the 'Bible Numerics' idealogy does that, does it? The symbolic numbers shouldn't be given a literal mathematic value unless the context in which they are found can be corroberated by obvious repetition. The underlying gemetria, if there be any, would almost act as God's fluoro pen.

I believe there's abundant evidence to support the idea that the author/s of the Bible deliberately attributed poetic licence on the numbers they used in the text. Davis agrees with that, but doesn't see it in the Old Testament, to which I believe he didn't look well enough.

I certainly have no real reason to want it to be true, I s'pose. Not that I can think of... I can see why the Revivalists love it so much. The belief in the mathematical signaturing of god in the text solidifies it as the inspired word (ironically, they muddy even that concept by making absolute messes of the scriptural interpretations anway :-S ... PLUS they place special credence on the amatuer 'prophets' who do their random rants during their 'voice gift' ceremonies). They design their doctrines and then seal the deal with the gemetria spin-doctoring, that's too complicated for most to debunk, so as to waive off any further argument as to their authority to sell said mis-doctrines.
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:20/04/2008 1:46 AMCopy HTML

Nature's Numbers

Ian Stewart's book, "Nature's Numbers" is a good one for researching the amazing mathematics in the world around us. Fibonacci sequencing and etc. It's interesting to discover why six-sided shapes are regularly occurring features, and not quite as supernatural as one might think. There's harmony in nature's numbers, but all set and balanced according to the way the universe runs.

And I'd hardly call it a 'few' numbers in scripture to... there are quite a lot of interesting numbers in the Bible, just in the timing of various events etc... Oh frak, look, whatever...

Fibonacci  
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:20/04/2008 8:41 AMCopy HTML

Sorry, that was me - I didn't log in, and I didn't mean to use the shouty font at you. I ran off at the end of the post because I was wondering what the heck I'm doing here defending Bible numerics again - clearly, I'm unbalanced and in need of help. This weird gnarled agnosticism in me has developed its own twisted sense of bullshit detection and, although many will say it's completely out of whack, this detector within hasn't put numerics into the red zone quite yet. I don't reveal much of what my detector says because I often try to phsyically push the needle myself.

Personally, I think there's more to it than the naysayers say, and it's one of those beliefs that Revivalists hold that surely isn't a 'dangerous' one is it..? even from Ian's point of view? Except when it's gemetria gone mad as was the case when I saw Mr Brad Smith use it with various bible verses to 'prove' how long one should be kept out of fellowship. Here's a case of lie, damn lies, statistics and demented gemetria.
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:20/04/2008 12:13 PMCopy HTML

Thanks moth, that's encouragement for me. I haven't quite given up yet but do get frustrated with myself.  But we will soldier on for awhile yet.
brolg.
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:20/04/2008 12:43 PMCopy HTML

God knows why I decided to take on teaching... there just seemed to be a need for male teachers at the time, and... well, supply and demand eh? Study, to me, was watching a wildlife documentary on Discovery, and bible study didn't go much further than the glossy garbage Voice of Revivals. I'm sure we all have natural skills, and will find some things difficult that others find easy, but we can always improve through repitition and practice, no matter what ripe age we've grown into.
                               ___________________________________________

Moth, Have you wondered whether God actually DID know what he wanted you to do (when you took on teaching)?
I say this because it is very clear that you are great with kids and have a real love for them and I'm pretty sure your (God-given) talents would have been wasted in a warehouse job. I like to think that whilst we can and do have 'natural' skills, we have particluar talents or giftings that (I believe anyway) are given to us for a purpose to fulfil our destiny. There were (and are) some very gifted people that have done some amazing things to improve the world around them and affected the lives of so many and often not just for their time but for generations to come. Thomas Edison, William Colgate, John Newton, Willliam Wilberforce to name but a few. When God calls a person and gives him/her a particular gifting and they use it, the world is changed for the better. I support Compassion, One, Don't Trade Lives and World Vision and have seen them do some awesome work to better the lives of so many.

Urch

Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths.
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:20/04/2008 1:25 PMCopy HTML

Moth,  Have you wondered whether  God  actually  DID know what he wanted you to do (when you took on teaching)?

Well, first I'd have to be convinced there was a god, and then I'd have to believe everything was preordained and planned out. If I believed the former, it'd be very obvious that God knew what he was doing. As for the latter, if would feel like pawnage to have all my steps 'ordered' like that.

I say this because it is very clear that you are great with kids and have a real love for them  and I'm pretty sure your (God-given) talents would have been wasted in a warehouse job.

I'm not sure it's very clear, and I'm not sure if I'm talented, but I get your gist. It's much more fulfilling interacting with community at a school front than moving boxes around... although I do miss the 'turn-off' time at 4.30 pm.

I like to think that whilst we can and do have 'natural' skills, we have  particluar talents or giftings that (I believe anyway) are given to us for a purpose to fulfil our destiny.

A very romantic notion ;-)
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:20/04/2008 10:59 PMCopy HTML

Reply to MothandRust (19/04/2008 10:01:14)

Reply to Ian:

I assumed that you would likely have a copy, given your past leanings Wink But it sounds, however, as if you're not yet totally convinced that gematria is nonsense. Do you still hanker for a little Panin, now and then?

Nah, I found Panin a little tedious, I'm more of a Bullinger fan, and although I do think there is some merit to some of Panin's study, he seemed to go far too deep. So -but- yeah, I'm not 'totally' convinced there is nothing to be gained from gemetria... from my 'believer's' outlook that is. I haven't placed any negative absolutes on it as yet. Jesus equalling 888 is alone a fun coincidence...

I never took on the 'Bible-Code' crap and discarded that fairly quickly. I don't see that there should be any hidden messages in the bible that can't be found in the surface context. I don't think the 'Bible Numerics' idealogy does that, does it? The symbolic numbers shouldn't be given a literal mathematic value unless the context in which they are found can be corroberated by obvious repetition. The underlying gemetria, if there be any, would almost act as God's fluoro pen.

I believe there's abundant evidence to support the idea that the author/s of the Bible deliberately attributed poetic licence on the numbers they used in the text. Davis agrees with that, but doesn't see it in the Old Testament, to which I believe he didn't look well enough.

I certainly have no real reason to want it to be true, I s'pose. Not that I can think of... I can see why the Revivalists love it so much. The belief in the mathematical signaturing of god in the text solidifies it as the inspired word (ironically, they muddy even that concept by making absolute messes of the scriptural interpretations anway :-S ... PLUS they place special credence on the amatuer 'prophets' who do their random rants during their 'voice gift' ceremonies). They design their doctrines and then seal the deal with the gemetria spin-doctoring, that's too complicated for most to debunk, so as to waive off any further argument as to their authority to sell said mis-doctrines.
Good morning, Pete.

You are quite the walking, talking, breathing dichotomy, aren't you? Far from convinced that God even exists, yet grasping at numerical "straws" nonetheless! Laughing

Anyway, I first read Davis' book about 10 years ago (the same time that I first read Bullinger's work). I read both again on Saturday, and to be honest, I can't see what you, apparently, do. I read Davis' exegetical work as an exegete myself, and I found him to be convincing. I browsed Panin and Bullinger again as well, but put down their works thinking: "loopy!"

But to respond to just one of your comments, above. To suggest that you don't believe Davis looked at the OT closely enough when he made his conclusions is a little mischevious: the chap is a professor in Hebrew and Old Testament! If there was one part of the Christian canon that he would look at very closely, it's the Hebrew Bible Wink

In closing, and for interest's sake, have you read any of the work by ANU mathematician, Brendan McKay? If you have, then clearly you believe "Moby Dick" and "Through the Looking Glass" to be inspired works of God, too! Well, wipe that grin off yor face and call me Ishmael, but I don't think such is the case! Innocent

Blessings,

Ian

P.S. To be brutally honest for a moment: the difference between you and Brad Smith on this subject is one only of degree, and not of kind
Undecided
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MothandRust Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #12
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:21/04/2008 8:07 AMCopy HTML

Good morning, Pete.

G'day Ian.

You are quite the walking, talking, breathing dichotomy, aren't you? Far from convinced that God even exists, yet grasping at numerical "straws" nonetheless!

I suppose I am. As far as empirical evidence goes I can't pin God down, not that one such as he should be bound by such for us to convert to DNA testing and mathematic scrutiny, after all. I find that set and obvious number facts don't lie, by definition, they are facts, and I find myself easily discovering recurring numerical themes and symbolism in the number references of the 66 books of the bible that I can't see in the 133 chapters of Moby Dick.

Anyway, I first read Davis' book about 10 years ago (the same time that I first read Bullinger's work). I read both again on Saturday, and to be honest, I can't see what you, apparently, do.

Maybe I'm 'special'.... well, no doubt... Cool. I also read through both books on the weekend. Didn't we have fun Sundays? As for Panin, I don't even own any copies of his work anymore.

I read Davis' exegetical work as an exegete myself, and I found him to be convincing. I browsed Panin and Bullinger again as well, but put down their works thinking: "loopy!"

I also found Davis' work to be excellent, but I'd have to disagree with  your overall summarization of Bullinger's book. I won't bother giving examples lest I be tarred with the same brush... more so... as I do later with mr Smith... heh. Let me make clear again, I don't hold much to gemetria because apart from a fair few interesting (and perhaps coincidental occurences) I was never able to get much to add up in the same way Ivan supposedly could.

But to respond to just one of your comments, above. To suggest that you don't believe Davis looked at the OT closely enough when he made his conclusions is a little mischevious: the chap is a professor in Hebrew and Old Testament! If there was one part of the Christian canon that he would look at very closely, it's the Hebrew Bible.

Oh, that crazy mischevious(
sic?)  Mothy! That he is a professor is why I'm surprised...

In closing, and for interest's sake, have you read any of the work by ANU mathematician, Brendan McKay? If you have, then clearly you believe "Moby Dick" and "Through the Looking Glass" to be inspired works of God, too! Well, wipe that grin off yor face and call me Ishmael, but I don't think such is the case!


Certainly I'm familiar with Mckay's work in discrediting 'The Bible Code' and yes, any piece of text can be manipulated with the B.C. treatment - I wonder if you're properly distinguishing Bible Numerology, from Theomatics and the (what I deem ridiculous) Bible Code. I've already stated that I discredited and sufficiently debunked that particular invention for myself... and years ago. Panin and Bullinger never 'ever' asserted anything along the lines of 'The Bible Code'... even the Revival spin-doctors distanced themselves from that (apart from Fred Needham's lot).

Not that I really 'want' Bible numerics to be a proof of the Bible text to be inspired by a deity... I do think there were some pretty dedicated numerologists amongst the KJV translators. I'm told King James was that way inclined actually.

See, I really didn't want to pick at this thread...

Pete
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:21/04/2008 10:40 PMCopy HTML


Hiya, Pete.

Perhaps you aren't aware, but Dr McKay hasn't contented himself simply with refuting Theomatics or Drosnin's so-called "Bible Code". He's also written extensive rebuttals of Bible Numerics a la Ivan Panin! And it was from these that I drew my oblique references to "Through the Looking Glass" and "Moby Dick" Wink

The stuff is 'bunk' and 'hocum'. Or, if you prefer, cr*p!

Blessings,

Ian

P.S. Here is a link to Dr McKay's introductory material on Panin, at his website:

    http://www.cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/panin/html
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:22/04/2008 10:32 AMCopy HTML

Hi Ian

On checking the website you mentioned I noticed it was a brief bit of debunking that I had read before... I would hardly call it 'extensive', and I think it goes a long way to debunking the bulk of Ivan's efforts and hardly even touched on the recurring and somewhat 'obvious' symbolism and patterning that Bullinger wrote about. They are worlds apart; Bullinger didnt even hint at anything like the Bible Code, which seeks to reveal 'hidden' information not available on the surface, while Bullinger's work reveals only a pattern that highlights the text it resides in. Actually, McKay left the fundamentals of Bullinger's work wholly unscathed.

Comparing McKay's patterning in Moby Dick to the sort of patterning Bullinger is talking about is like chalk and chowder - heh. I'm thinking your read on the weekend was perhaps more of a rather brief and  already preconceived  'skim', but that's ok, why commit to something you've already convinced yourself is crap and irreverent? McKay's Moby/Looking Glass references were NOT aimed at Theomatics, or Bible Numerology and I think it's a little deceptive or, rather, uninformed or mischievous (;-D) to say otherwise (even if obliquely mentioned), unless you have a document I'm missing - if so, I apologise in advance. He was using the comparisons soley in relation to the unadulterated crap that is The Bible Code, and he did rightly so.

There were some good links to a few sites, I've also previously read,  that successfully take the air out of Theomatics  (Bible Numerics) to some degree and I think those arguments are mostly obvious and sensible... and I've already stated that such ideas are, by and large, fanciful. Although, much like 'tongues', proving that many such thngs can be easily reproduced doesn't necessarily debunk all of the phenomena. I'm not sure if that's the best analogy, but perhaps you know what I mean.

My curse, my 'blessing' perhaps, and almost certainly my stumbling block separating me from the blissful  comforts of atheism,  is that I currently can't smell the crap in a lot of what Bullinger writes. I find many of the examples he gives infuriatingly undeniable (and this is from a hardened skeptic, of sorts). The funny part is that you, like Troy, both encourage me to cut the strings to it... for different reasons of course, but I still find it ironic. It's also funny, that I'm not trying to promote the idea, yet I feel obliged to defend it. I loathe having any belief ties to Revival,  and I've  successfully jettisoned the other Revival side-show doctrines through study and logistics, but I don't really equate this particular understanding  with Revival, per ce.

I think the Bible Code has muddied the waters of Bible Numerology (as  vasty opposed to New Age - old age  mystical Numerology)  in much the same way pentecostalism has confused people's opinions of that good ol' time religion.
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:22/04/2008 1:24 PMCopy HTML

Hi, Pete.

My curse, my 'blessing' perhaps, and almost certainly my stumbling block separating me from the blissful comforts of atheism, is that I currently can't smell the crap in a lot of what Bullinger writes.

Let me see if I understood you properly: are you suggesting that Bullinger's theories (fanciful as they are from an exegetical and hermeneutical perspective) are the primary (if not only) thing keeping you from embracing atheism?!
Undecided

Blessings,

Ian

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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:24/04/2008 6:11 AMCopy HTML

Heya

All I'm saying is that the authors who manipulated the bible text together were using a unique number structure. I'm not saying that they or it was a god necessarily, 'cause let's face it, if I did come to completely believe there was a supernatural over-arching character pulling at all the strings, the universe would make even less sense to me than it already does.

But I, like Bullinger, recognise a series of numbers scattered through the english text that aren't completely random... eg, 12 disciples, and 12 tribes have a similarity, and the 153 fish caught in the net is an interesting pyramidical number. Of all the large numbers they picked for this text, that is coincidently peculiar.

Now, Douglas Adams spent a lot of time deliberating over why he chose 42 as his answer to life the universe and everything; he was not a numerologist, but he loved the patterning of numbers, and the feel of them. He nearly picked 37 (my favourite number) and he always though 5 was quite perky, but not actually 'funny'. He thought it was more droll than 41 but not as ribtickling as 78 (*"Wish you were here", Pg. 130).

I think there's ample proof in Bullinger's work alone to suggest that the theories about King James being a numerologist number nut are believable, when you see the alignment in numerical themes within the english text. eg. The number seven has a popular positivity in bible text as 6 and 13 (one short of 7, and one less than 14) have negative inferences.
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Re:Bible Numerics and Numerology

Date Posted:06/07/2010 12:04 PMCopy HTML


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