Lee Harmon's Reviews > The Bible Code

The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

did not like it

You knew I’d get to this book eventually, right? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely brilliant. Drosnin is my idol. With a savvy grasp of human nature, a little computer programming, and a mathematician’s insight into probabilities, he put together a best seller.

The book’s premise is that the Bible contains a secret code, and that he has cracked the code to reveal its hidden messages. Simply start at any letter in the Bible, skip ahead a fixed number of letters to the next, and continue until it spells out … well, whatever you like. Start with the first T in Genesis, skip 49 letters to an O, skip 49 more to an R, 49 more to H. Lo and behold, you’ve spelled TORH, the Hebrew word for the first five books of the Bible. Miraculous, isn’t it?

No, it’s neither miraculous nor unexpected. As Keith Devlin demonstrated about a year after The Bible Code hit the bookstores, the word TORH appears 56,768 more times in the software, searching just the book of Genesis alone. TORH appeared in an issue of the Wall Street Journal 15,000 times. But might there be more impressive words than TORH? Yes, several! The first encoded phrase the book mentions is “Yitzhak Rabin,” which he uncovers in Deuteronomy. Drosnin carefully lays out his analysis in matrix form so that it looks like a word find puzzle, and crossing Yitzhak Rabin is the phrase “Assassin that will assassinate.” Need more evidence? The phrase “Rabin assassination” crosses “Tel Aviv” in the book of Exodus. Yep, that’s where Amir assassinated Rabin. Oh, the name “Amir” appears in the book of Numbers.

A code of equidistant letters buried within the Bible is not a new idea. See Wikipedia for a full discussion. But with a little computer programming, Drosnin pushes it to the limit. He uncovers prophecies about Watergate, Hitler, Shakespeare’s writings, Edison’s inventions, the holocaust, Roosevelt, Kennedy, communism, Armageddon, and, amazingly, the promise of a future book named “Bible Code.”

It all sounds convincing, until a little experimentation verifies the same probabilistic expectations in other works of literature. Moby Dick revealed much of the same prophecies and many more. So, mathematicians turned back to the Bible to see what else they could learn by the using the software. Several more startling prophecies surfaced: “Code is bunk.” “Drosnin Fraud.” “Darwin was right.” Sigh.

Please don’t read the book, but do gain inspiration from the genius of Drosnin. Millions of dollars are waiting for the next great sham.
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