Dear Isobel,

The best place to look up explanations of biblical numbers as current in
Latin exegetical sources (4th-12th cent.) is the following, which has a
very rich article on the number seven and less rich one on the number 12:

   Heinz Meyer / Rudolf Suntrup, Lexikon der mittelalterlichen
   Zahlenbedeutungen. Mu"nchen: Fink, 1987 (= Mu"nstersche Mit-
   telalter-Schriften, 56)

Even if you don't enjoy reading German you will find enough Latin
quotations to make you happy for a while. If your library does not have the
LMZ, it probably has the journal _Fru"hmittelalterliche Studien_ where a
first version of the article 'Seven' was published:

   Heinz Meyer / Rudolf Suntrup, Zum Lexikon der Zahlenbedeu-
   tungen im Mittelalter. Einführung in die Methode und Probe-
   Artikel: Die Zahl Sieben. In: FMSt 11 (1977), p.1-73

The LMZ is not such a good place for the sort of 'mystic' or ascetic or
other religious literature not directly related to the Bible and where
numerical arrangements of virtues, vices, steps of purgation or
contemplation, sufferings of Christ and Mary etc. became to be particularly
abundant in the somewhat later middle ages. For the number 12 you might
look, for instance, at Bonaventure's _Lignum vitae_, Opera omnia, t.VIII
(1898), p.68-87, which takes it's issue from the tree(s) of life in
heavenly paradise "adferens fructus duodecim / per menses singula reddentia
fructum suum" (Apc  22,1) and meditates in 12 x 4 chapters on the virtues
and achievements of Christ.


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