Many readers of SOS may remember a book called The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin. It was first published in 1997 and remained on the New York Times best seller list for months. I was recently sent a copy of this book by a friend, and we had a brief discussion on its relevance to Biblical interpretation. I’ve since finished the book and think a post would be relevant material for this site, especially since Drosnin has written two more books on the subject which continue to do very well in Christian circles.
The premise of the book is that the Bible contains a code that can be cracked by computer, using Equidistant Letter Sequence (ELS). Such methods got a jump start when around seventy years ago a Rabbi named Weissmandel discovered that if you take the beginning of the book of Genesis and skip every fifty letters you get the word “Torah.” This can be repeated in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Weissmandel was working by trial and error, much like Isaac Newton who also believed that the Bible contained a hidden code. But with the advent of computers, finding a hidden code in the Pentateuch through Equidistant Letter Sequencing became much more productive and the Bible Code was born.
Drosnin states that many important events have been found in the Torah using the method of Equidistant Letter Sequencing. His claims are substantial. For example, he claims to have predicted the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. In a personal letter before the assassination, he states:
“An Israeli mathematician has discovered a hidden code in the Bible that appears to reveal the details of the events that took place thousands of years after the Bible was written. The reason I’m telling you about this is that the only time your full name—Yitzhak Rabin—is encoded in the Bible, the words ‘assassin that will assassinate’ cross your name. That should not be ignored, because the assassinations of Anwar Sadat and both John and Robert Kennedy are also encoded in the Bible—in the case of Sadat with the first and last names of his killer, and the date of the murder, and the place, and how it was done. I think you are in real danger, but that danger can be averted.”
Of course Yitzhak was assassinated so it would seem that Drosnin had stumbled onto something incredible here. The book continues to detail some amazing events he claims were foretold in the Torah and revealed through the method of ELS.
Below is a very brief list of some of those events:
- Nixon’s Watergate scandal
- The Great Depression
- Landing on the Moon
- Shoemaker-Levy’s collision with Jupiter
- The extinction of the dinosaurs by an asteroid
- The Gulf War
What seems to make these predictions so impressive is that each of the above events has detailed information such as exact dates and/or correlating names in the same area of the original Hebrew text. For example, Drosnin states the words “Economic Collapse” and “Depression” appear together, along with the word “stocks.” In the same place is the year 1929, designated by the Hebrew year 5620. If you’ve never heard of the book, you might be wondering what are we to make of all this? Is it true? Does the Bible really have the future of mankind and the world encoded in it, all of which can be discovered through a computer program?
The writer of the jacket cover thought so. On the left inside cover it states:
“For three thousand years a code in the Bible has remained hidden. Now it has been unlocked by computer—and it may reveal our future.”
I thought about including a write-up on the negative criticisms of the book, but decided that if you were interested you could read them yourself. I will provide links at the end of this post. Have fun if you so desire. Some are interesting and cast serious doubt as to the method of Equidistant Letter Sequencing to discover a hidden code in the Bible, but honestly, I don’t think that’s necessary, because the answer to whether Drosnin’s Bible Code is beneficial or not can be answered from a different perspective.
The Ego’s love affair with sensationalism
Man loves sensationalism. Take the ego’s propensity to get caught up in gossip. To hear about another’s life’s problems often artificially strengthens one’s own position mentally and emotionally if we’ve managed to avoid that life problem or have been through it but feel we have overcome it. Why? Because we might feel that we’ve gained the knowledge and discipline to rise above it, and it makes us feel good to know that we’re better than that now. It’s a natural response until we have learned the deeper spiritual meaning of love and that we’re all somehow connected, and therefore my brother’s problem is also a reflection of our own.
How about the nightly news? Often time the ego feels a sense of satisfaction to judge what’s going on in the world around us, either positive or negative, and man rushes to wrap himself up in current events when our dogmas and opinions are strong enough to take a strong position against this or that. The reality is that what the news and media outlets are reporting on is always biased and full of half-truths, and the ego is drawn in to the sensationalism of it. Why do media and news outlets make so much more money when something BIG is going on? Because the ego loves to be enmeshed in the next big thing.
My point is not to argue whether watching the nightly news is bad or not; that’s not the issue. I am only pointing out the ego’s proclivity to get entangled. I will argue that the same is going on behind the scenes with the Bible code. In the Christian world, it was the “next big thing” since the core message of the Bible code is a sensational one; it’s a reason to entangle the ego in what could be instead of focusing on the more important issue of spirituality: individual conscious development in the present moment.
The message of the Bible is the evolution of the soul and the development of consciousness through myth
While I believe that Drosnin’s efforts are sincere, he is himself a reporter, trained to view things from an analytical, left brain view. But true Biblical interpretation requires more than this. To understand its message, we have to go beyond literalism. Yes, Drosnin’ code can be considered esoteric because it is purportedly hidden in the text. But in one respect Drosnin’s approach is more of a literal one; it takes the original Hebrew characters and plugs them into a software program to derive meaning. Forget the beauty of the actual plot and drama of the Biblical Stories where the real meat is.
Ironically, the real truth of the Bible is found within the myth!
Joseph Campbell once stated:
“Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth–penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told.”
In other words, myth allows us to probes the depths of the conscious experience beyond what the literal words can relate to us. That also includes a computer program that uses Equidistant Letter Sequences to uncover future events.
A further quote from Campbell that I thought relevant here:
“Computers are like Old Testament Gods; lots of rules and no mercy.”
I also find it ironic that anyone could believe an unconscious computer program can decode a book which reveals consciousness itself through its stories and wisdom sayings. The Bible is a book of the human condition and its potential, which itself is consciousness and soul, full of emotion and will, and it is through an esoteric interpretation of the plot and symbolism in the stories and wisdom sayings that we come to understand its message.
What if the Bible Code really did have validity and reveal our future?
I do not take the above question seriously, but even if it were true, what would it matter in the end? So what? How is knowing the future really going to benefit mankind? Will it bring profound changes to consciousness? To the soul? I don’t think so.
History has already proven that if there is one thing we can learn from history, it is that mankind doesn’t learn from history. We repeat the same mistakes generation after generation. Why would it be any different to know the future?
We have to learn to focus on the present moment, and the future will take care of itself. Jesus told us to take no thought for the morrow, because today has enough in it to learn to become consciously present and aware. It’s about the kingdom within, not the kingdom without. To get caught up in something like the Bible Code would seem to me to do more to reinforce the ego, not transcend it. I am all for planning, but it is never a good idea to get so caught up in something that we put all our eggs in one basket just because something could happen.
One of the reasons Drosnin wrote the book was to warn us of a possible Apocalyptic nuclear world war, which he believed the Bible Code suggested could happen within the decade after the publication of the book. It didn’t happen of course, but in all fairness to Drosnin, he ended the book with these words:
“…the Bible Code is more than a warning. It may be the information we need to prevent the predicted disaster. ‘Code will save’ appears right above the information ‘atomic holocaust,’ just below ‘the End of Days.’ It is not a promise of salvation. It is not a threat of inevitable doom. It is just information. The message of the Bible Code is that we can save ourselves.”
As you can see, Drosnin admits that what he has uncovered “is just information” instead of some definite prophecy of world doom. In that, I have to admit he was a step above the fundamentalist who believes the Bible is about a literal Christ who will return EXTERNALLY to save some. The esoteric truth is that the return of Christ comes within the individual and is not seen with physical eyes. And I don’t think it is a “code” or even “mankind” that will save himself. Rather, it is through a commitment with one’s self to embrace the path inward and then a surrendering of one’s self to the divine. Yes, the initial decision and step is ours, but somewhere between that initial step and decision man must come to embrace that the divine within will take over and complete the process in a way that is ultimately beyond our comprehension and doing.
So where does all this leave us about the validity of the Bible Code?
Overall, I have come to the same conclusions about the Bible Code as Vernon, a Spirit of the Scripture reader who sent me the book. I think he sums it up quite nicely below:
“What these literary men in this book are actually dealing with isn’t future prognosis hidden in cryptographic style by authors who lived in the flesh, but rather and simply the beauty of cosmic order; i.e. the fashion and result of the organizational precision of the collective written word, the imprint, or signature of God. For example, an underlying explanation and point of clarity to what this so-called code is all about can be seen in Werner Heisenberg’s “Uncertainty Principle” (P.42) which posits the realization that there isn’t only one future ahead, but rather many possible ones. And it is a fundamental process of cosmic organization, such as the way Divine inspiration is with the Word, to gather the different clues and possibilities for every contingent future. And this is basically what the Hebrew bible holds for us. Perhaps that’s why the values of the arranged word characters are found only in the roots of the Hebraic text; the untainted inspiration free from alteration, interpolation and mistranslation.
And most metaphysicians will tell us that part of mankind’s function in life is creating cosmos out of chaos. And there is splendor as well as mystery to be found in the organizing processes of cosmic consciousness where the past is linked to the present. The evolution of cosmic consciousness exists both in and outside of time. And the beauty of cosmic order couldn’t be more eminently noticeable in anything other than in the Word of God itself.
If we believe, in accordance with the law of correspondences (as above so below, vice versa) that the spiritual world is holographic in much the same way our physical universe is holographic, which I believe is, then we must conclude that the cosmic collective memory (akashic records), the collective unconscious as well as the living present consciousness of mankind are all intimately related and interdependent. And the written word leaves its imprint accordingly. Notice that these terms, as metaphysical descriptions are not in the book’s index. Which leads me to believe that there must be reason why a metaphysical approach to explaining this subject, as a whole, has been avoided, at least in this present work.
Although there are sincere intentions with Drosnin and the others involved in this book, but as a project I don’t believe it is without ulterior motives, socially and politically. It’s easy for rogue elements to involve their selves in such a project which can so easily be misunderstood and abused.”
—Vernon McVety Jr.
Thanks, Vernon, for bringing this info to light and giving SOS readers the chance to consider it.
As promised earlier in the article, the links below delve into the validity of the Bible Code itself if you are interested.