Are Bible Codes credible?

This article is from Hank Hanegraaff, The Complete Bible Answer Book—Collector’s Edition (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008)
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A significant number of Christian leaders today hail Bible Codes as important evidence for the inspiration of Scripture. While they claim post–prophecies such as Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995 are encoded in the biblical text, Bible Codes, in reality, are little more than a fringe variety of Jewish mysticism repackaged for Christian consumption.

First, like its older permutation, Bible Numerics, Bible Codes are at best a pseudoscience. Codes are “discovered” by searching for equidistant letter sequences (ELS) that can be compiled into intelligible messages pertaining to past events. One can search left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top, or in diagonal directions. Although sequencing can vary from word to word, none of the prophecies can be known beforehand. Like Monday–morning quarterbacking, hindsight is always perfect.

Furthermore, Bible Codes are a rigged game complete with after–the–fact prophecies and self–validating messages. While ELS practitioners contend such historical events as the assassination of Rabin are encoded in the Torah, nothing could be farther from the truth. Because Old Testament Hebrew does not contain vowels, an alleged code such as “Rabin Bang Bang” could just as easily refer to Christopher Robin’s shooting his pop gun at the balloons Winnie the Pooh was holding when he floated over the Hundred Acre Wood (“Robin Bang Bang”). For that matter, the self–validating message could refer to the tire blowout that Batman’s sidekick Robin experienced while riding in the Batmobile. It could even refer to a Mafia hitman named Robino who had two successful kills—bang, bang.

Finally, though the message of the autographa (original texts of the Bible) is unaltered in the best available manuscript copies, minor differences in spelling and style make it impossible to validate the divine inspiration of equidistant letter sequencing. Such minor divergences leave the meaning unaltered but completely undermine all attempts to find equidistant letter sequences by altering the distance between letters. Moreover, the coincidences of equidistant letter sequences that do occur in the Torah are not unique. They occur in every other work of literature from Homer to Hobbes and from Tolkien to Tolstoy.

Bible Codes shift the focus of biblical apologetics from the essential core of the gospel to esoteric speculations. Those who deny the incontrovertible evidence that Jesus rose from the dead are not likely to be persuaded by the pseudo–apologetic of Bible Codes.

For further study,see Hank Hanegraaff,“Magic Apologetics,” CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL 20, 1 (1997), available through the Christian Research Institute (CRI) at www.equip.org.


“If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

Luke 16:31

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