Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
JETS 41:2 (June 1998) p. 323
The Bible Code. By Michael Drosnin. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997, 267 pp., $25.00.
Three weeks before the Gulf War began, Eliyahu Rips, an Israeli mathematician, decoded from Genesis the date on which Iraq would launch its first Scud missile against Israel. More than a year before Rabin’s assassination, his method found the event predicted in Deuteronomy. Journalist Michael Drosnin describes Rips’ method and some of its yet-unfulfilled prophecies informally and nonmathematically and relates his own struggle as an agnostic with the implications of 20th-century details embedded in a book more than three millennia old.
If Rips’ method is sound, evangelicals should exploit it for exegesis. In fact, several books by Christian authors use the method to find hidden messianic prophecies. While Rips’ credentials and technical claims and the predictions themselves are impressive, his approach is lacking philologically, mathematically and theologically.
The “Bible Code method” is built on two principles: skipping letters, and proximity.
The first principle is that letters separated by equal numbers of intervening letters may be read consecutively to yield a word or phrase. The computer searches the consonantal MT for a given word by first skipping no letters, then one, then two, and on up to several thousand if necessary. The successive characters of “Yitzhak Rabin” in Deut 2:33–24:16 are separated by 4,771 letters.
Most of the expressions discovered by skipping are single words or short phrases. Forming a coherent prediction requires combining several encoded expressions (perhaps using different skips) that are close to one another. The prophecy of Rabin’s assassination consists of three such expressions: “Yitzhak Rabin” with a skip of 4,771 letters, “assassin will assassinate” with zero letters skipped (the plain text of Deut 4:42), and the name of the assassin (discovered after the event), “Amir,” in reverse order with a skip of 8 letters (Num 33:14–15).
The tradition of patterns among nonconsecutive letters in the OT includes acknowledged acrostics in Psalms and Lamentations, the hidden Tetragrammaton in Esther, and the cabala. In spite of its long pedigree, however, Drosnin’s treatment is not persuasive.
Concerning philological issues, Drosnin reveals only a superficial knowledge of the nature and history of the Biblical text. Most of his errors do not directly affect the book’s argument, but one is fatal. He claims: “All Bibles in the original Hebrew language that ...
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