Understanding the Bible Code Controversy -- By: John A. Jelinek

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 02:1 (Spring 1998)
Article: Understanding the Bible Code Controversy
Author: John A. Jelinek

Understanding the Bible Code Controversy

John A. Jelinek

Seminary Chaplain, Baptist Bible Seminary
Associate Professor, Baptist Bible Seminary

There is a Bible beneath the Bible.
Drosnin, The Bible Code, 25


The so-called Torah Codes or Bible Codes have been much in the news lately because of the excitement generated by press notices that attended the release of journalist Michael Drosnin's book. At one point, The Bible Code was on the “top ten” best sellers list simultaneously in New York, London, Paris, and Rome.1 The Bible Code has fostered discussion around the world these days and is accompanied by seemingly endless speculation (even within evangelical circles). The book also has been reviewed widely and has stimulated pieces in Newsweek and Time Magazines. Drosnin has been making the rounds of the talk-show circuit, including the 700 Club and the Oprah Winfrey Show in June 1997. One reporter in Time indicated that Warner has purchased the movie rights.2

The impact of the book on American society is a matter yet to be determined, but the presuppositions and methodology that underlay the book are not limited to the more popular conclusions in the book by Drosnin. Others (such as Christians, Muslims, and Jews) are employing similar codes

and methodologies to draw their own distinctive conclusions. What is a biblical response to the issue of the Bible codes? Can the codes really be used to establish divine authorship of the Bible? Will Bible codes become an important weapon in the apologetic arsenal of evangelical Christians?

The goals of this review are 1) to define common terminology associated with the controversy, 2) to explain in some detail the various examples of the codes and to discuss in layman's language both some of the general mathematical issues and some detailed analysis of the precise method, 3) to illustrate some parallel uses of this methodology in the apologetical approaches of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian circles, and 4) to critique the methodology from within the framework of biblical theology. In the process of investigation, some of the more prominent names and figures associated with the controversy will arise and brief bibliographic information will attend each key figure.

A careful analysis of the Bible Code controversy indicates that there are many reasons to reject the theory that there are codes embedded in the Torah (or elsewhere in the Bible) of the type presented by these codes researchers (whether individuals or...

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