Secret Codes

Andre Desnitsky bsruss at dol.ru
Mon Jun 14 11:40:16 EDT 1999


Dear Wondell,

The previous discussion on the Bible Codes was started by myself.
Here is a digest of it. I have nothing to add.

Andre S. Desnitsky, Ph.D
Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

_______________________

Dear colleagues,

When I have heard a couple of years ago about the the so called
"Bible codes", quite naturally I considered them to be another trick
of some clever guys with a computer. Quite recently I received an
apology of the method from its supporter claiming that the results
were proven statistically.

I am still very cautious about the method but such a claim can't be
simply discarded because we don't like it. What do you think? Do you
have any other arguments? Has someone tried to repeat the experience
or to do the same with another sequence of Hebrew letters? In a
word, was there an independent expertise?

...

Andre S. Desnitsky, Ph.D.
Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences;
Bible Society in Russia.
________________________

Andre:

The Torah Codes have been successfully debunked by Dr. James D.
Price,
professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Temple Baptist Seminary

http://www.prophezine.com/tcode/

________________________

My question about all this is: which Hebrew text?  BHS?  Some 
other?  Was it appropriately emended based on text-critical 
principles?  Which ones?  How was the base text decided?  Who 
decided and on what principles?  How do textual variants affect 
these codes?  I have yet to see an adequate answer to these and 
similar questions.  I have no problem believing the Scriptures are 
inspired, and in fact am [flameproof suit on] an unabashed 
inerrantist.  However, I don't need stuff like this to "prove" it,
nor do 
I feel threatened by textual criticism.  There are places, I
realize, 
where we're not certain what the text is and are still working on 
recovering it.  This whole "Bible codes" thing seems to subtly 
suggest that the text is fixed, known and cast in stone; that is 
hardly the case.  Hence, I'm more than a little skeptical about the 
idea.

Dave Washburn
http://www.nyx.net/~dwashbur
A Bible that's falling apart means a life that isn't.

___________________________________

This site explains how it is done! It is quite an interesting method
and
this fine spoof shows how it can be done.

http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/moby.html

This is a quote taken from the site:

The following challenge was made by Michael Drosnin:

When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime
minister
encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them.
(Newsweek, Jun 9, 1997)

Note that English with the vowels included is far less flexible than
Hebrew
when it comes to making letters into words. Nevertheless, without
further
ado, we present our answer to Mr Drosnin's challenge.

Go there!!

Grace to you,
Mark Markham
Heidelberg, Germany

_________________________

Dear Andre,
The Masoretic Text, upon which the Bible codes are based, is full of
scribal errors, and is not at all the original autograph of the
Biblical
books. Even with the aid of the Qumran MSS, the Samaritan
Pentateuch,
and ancient translations, it is nigh impossible to reconstruct any
original Urtext. What is more, there were more than one edition of
some
biblical bookds, e.g., Jeremiah.
So any "code", or nuimerology, or other prophetical or mystical
phantasmagoria based on the Masorwetic text is pure fantasy.
Sincerely,
--
Jonathan D. Safren
Dept. of Biblical Studies
Beit Berl College
Beit Berl Post Office 44905
Israel

_____________________________


Dave Washburn wrote:
> 
> My question about all this is: which Hebrew text?  BHS?  Some
> other?  Was it appropriately emended based on text-critical
> principles?  Which ones?  How was the base text decided?  Who
> decided and on what principles?  How do textual variants affect
> these codes?  I have yet to see an adequate answer to these and
> similar questions.  

Neither have I seen the willingness of the supporters to admit the
very existence of those damned questions. For them, there is the
Text, namely the traditional text of the synagogue. All the variants
are nothing by deviations.

> I have no problem believing the Scriptures are
> inspired, and in fact am [flameproof suit on] an unabashed
> inerrantist.  However, I don't need stuff like this to "prove" it, nor do
> I feel threatened by textual criticism.

I am afraid I have a rather vague idea about the unabashed
interranism but all the rest sounds like I feel it myself.

Jonathan D. Safren wrote:
> 
> Dear Andre,
> The Masoretic Text, upon which the Bible codes are based, is full of
> scribal errors, and is not at all the original autograph of the Biblical
> books. Even with the aid of the Qumran MSS, the Samaritan Pentateuch,
> and ancient translations, it is nigh impossible to reconstruct any
> original Urtext. What is more, there were more than one edition of some
> biblical bookds, e.g., Jeremiah.

Jonathan, these are the facts - in our eyes. Not in theirs.
Certainly that's exactly what I preach to my own students but what
can we do about a sect that doesn't share our orthodox textual
criticism? Can we really convert them? Shall we try? ;-)

> So any "code", or nuimerology, or other prophetical or mystical
> phantasmagoria based on the Masorwetic text is pure fantasy.

I agree; but they say: the textual criticism is pure fantasy since
we have proven that our codes are no fantasy at all.

The point where I get puzzled about all that stuff was when I
realize that the claim id quite serious and that I am absolutely
unable to investigate the question by myself being absolutely
illiterate in statistics. Some experts say that's but a nonsense;
some say that's a discovery of the century - all I can do is to join
the party I like the most. You know my preferences, but how honest
it will be to ignore such a claim simply because I don't like it?

But now I think there can be an answer for a person who is not that
clever in maths. We can ask a very simple question: So what? OK,
let's admit that Auschwitz and Yitzhak Rabin were predicted in the
Bible, but these are the facts we already know. If I say: "I knew it
all before it happened", what does such a statement add to your
understanding of what has actually happened?

Do these codes say something we didn't know before? Do they shed
some light on the things we do not understand now? Where is written
the name of the next president of my country and if it is written
somewhere, will it really affect my choice at the next elections? I
think that if some guys say they now the name I will still vote for
the guy I like the most, not for the name they have read somewhere.

The same is true for the spiritual dimension of the Bible. As a
Christian, I believe the Bible is inspired by God; I believe there
are multiple levels of understanding the Scripture. Let's admit
there is another one, fixed in the Bible codes - but does it give us
anything for our spiritual life or our intellectual investigation? I
don't see any positive answer.

Andre S. Desnitsky, Ph.D.
Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences;
Bible Society in Russia.

___________________________


In addition to the objections already raised here, several
mathematicians have also challenged the statistical methods
underlying
the work.  One of the most active, Brendan McKay of Australian
National
University, even has a Web site devoted to the topic.  Take a look
at
http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/index.html.

Yigal

Yigal Arens
USC/ISI
arens at isi.edu
http://www.isi.edu/sims/arens

____________________________

Dear Andre,

I'm sorry, I'm not convinced by these "Bible codes". This can quite 
easily happen by chance. Let's look at some statistics and compare 
with what would happen if instead of the Hebrew Bible we looked a 
random selection of the same length, over 1 million letters chosen 
from the 22 Hebrew consonants. (We are looking at the consonants
only 
I think). What is the chance of finding the name "Hitler" "hidden"
in 
this way? Presumably we are looking for just He-Taw-Lamed-Resh, or 
perhaps Tet instead of Taw, or either. For any given starting place 
and skip value (number of letters skipped in either direction), we 
have a 1 in 22 chance of finding the right letter, which gives 1 in
22 
to the power 4 or about 1 in 200,000 that all four letters are 
correct. Thus for each skip value we would expect to find the name 
Hitler 5 times in the random text. Jeffrey's examples allows skip 
values as high as 153, and in both directions, so we must multiply
by 
at least 300 and so expect to find the name Hitler "hidden" 1500
times 
in a random text the length of the Bible! (The details will be 
slightly different if you weight the proportions of each letter 
according to how common they are: this will mean more "hidden" 
examples of words spelt with common letters).

Longer phrases will of course be rarer, but if when you find the
word 
"Auschwitz" (also only four Hebrew consonants?) you look at the 
surrounding random selection of consonants, there is a pretty high 
chance that you can make them mean something appropriate. Obviously 
the chances are less if you restrict yourself to a short passage in 
Deuteronomy, but in fact the cases quoted are from several parts of 
Deuteronomy which is long enough in itself for several occurrences
of 
"Hitler", "Auschwitz" etc.

So I conclude that these phrases could well have got into the Hebrew 
Bible by chance, and so (especially considering the textual problems 
others have mentioned) very probably they did. Now I believe that
all 
"chance" is subject to the providence of God, but I don't think this 
is a case of anything deliberately hidden but of people finding in
the 
text something which was never intended by anyone.

Peter Kirk

___________________________

Andre Desnitsky asked about Bible Codes.
This subject is discussed in an excellent paper by Richard A. Taylor 
presented at the most recent annual meeting of the Evangelical
Theological 
Society--Title: "The Bible Code: Teaching Them [Wrong] Things"
Taylor is Professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary.
I don't know whether the paper is available on the Internet, but one 
could ask him for a hard copy.

One web site on the subject is:
http://www.prophezine.com/tcode/index.shtml

My own research on the subject has led to the conclusion that 
all equidistant codes are the result of mere chance.

In any segment of Scripture literally thousands of such codes can 
be found on thousands of words. One may pick and choose among 
them to imagine any message he desires. The same is true for secular 
Hebrew literature. Hundreds of false and self contradictory
statements 
have been found. The alleged "statistical" proof has been seriously 
challenged by expert mathematicians. In my opinion, the topic is 
not worthy of serious thought. It is a waste of one's time.
James D. Price, Ph.D.
Prof. of Hebrew and OT
Temple Baptist Seminary
Chattanooga, TN

______________________

Dear Andre,

I don't think you'll find the name of the next president of Russia 
hidden in the text. Why? Quite simply because most Russian surnames 
(spelled in Hebrew) are too long! It's just a matter of statistics
and 
chance. I know you don't understand them, I understand a little more 
but far from anything. But it is worth learning a bit - simply
because 
those who can be fooled by such statistics can just as easily be 
fooled by fraudulent lotteries, investment funds etc. I'm afraid
quite 
a few people around the world have got very rich, and made a lot of 
others poor, by knowing a little about statistics.

Peter Kirk





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