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Bible Codes: How Not to Defend the Bible

Bible Codes: How Not to Defend the Bible

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There are many evidences supporting the reliability, accuracy, and inspiration of the Bible. However, some arguments for the Bible’s inspiration are better than others, and some are simply no good at all. The “Bible code” theories are an example of the latter; they are worthless as guides to biblical revelations and as evidences of divine inspiration. Excellent work has already been done that thoroughly refutes the Bible code theories; the following resources are particularly recommended. Some of these resources are by evangelical Christians; some are from Jews or secularists. They all agree that the Bible code rests on statistical fallacies and that the method does not reveal hidden or encoded messages in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament.

Kenneth Samples, “10 Criticisms of the Bible Code,” Reasons to Believe
Evangelical Christian philosopher summarizes in simple, brief terms ten important criticisms of the Bible Code. This would be a good place to start for those who want a quick overview of the subject.

Michael Heiser, The Bible Code Myth
A short book by this evangelical Christian who is also a Hebrew scholar that thoroughly critiques the Bible Code theories.

Michael Heiser, “Spelling the End of Grant Jeffrey’s ‘Jesus Codes.’”
Evangelical Hebrew scholar shows that even though the Great Isaiah Scroll is remarkably similar in wording to the medieval Masoretic text of Isaiah, many of the words are spelled differently— which is absolutely fatal to the Bible code theories, all of which depend on precise counting of letters across large amounts of text. (PDF document)

Randy Ingermanson’s Bible Code Page
This Christian physicist (Ph.D., Berkeley) has written several articles, book reviews, and his own important book on the Bible code controversy, Who Wrote the Bible Code?

Brendan McKay and friends, “Scientific Refutation of the Bible Codes
One of the best websites focusing on the Bible Code theories. Links to numerous articles, including McKay’s important and funny article “Assassinations Foretold in Moby Dick!” That article is a direct response to Bible Code advocate Michael Drosnin’s comment, “When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them.”

Barry Simons on Bible Codes
Simons, the IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Caltech, has several articles critiquing the Bible Code theories, and links to several other resources.

Mathematicians’ Statement on the Bible Codes
Statement signed by 55 academic mathematicians, including some who believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible, dismissing the Bible Code theory as mathematically “bogus.” 

J. Paul Tanner, “Decoding the ‘Bible Code.’” Bibliotheca Sacra 157 (2000): 141-59.
Article in the periodical of Dallas Theological Seminary, giving statistical, biblical, and theological reasons to reject Bible Code theory. (PDF document)

John A. Jelinek, “Understanding the Bible Code Controversy
Professor at Baptist Bible Seminary explains the Bible Code theory and some of the mathematical problems with it, discusses how this approach has been used by Jews and Muslims as well as Christians to support their differing beliefs, and gives a biblical-theological critique of the method. (PDF document)

Robert C. Newman, “Cracking ‘the Bible Code’”
Scholar trained in both biblical studies and science explains the problems with the Bible Code theory. Especially notable is his use of the Gettysburg Address to illustrate the mathematical fallacies of the Code. Newman also gives some of the best analysis of the statistical probabilities of finding certain lengths of words in the Hebrew text. (PDF document.) Also available as a PowerPoint presentation.

Hugh Ross, “Cracking the Codes,” Reasons to Believe
Evangelical Christian apologist and professional astronomer Hugh Ross illustrates the statistical errors of the Bible Code theory using similar fallacies in the study of astronomy.