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3.2 out of 5 stars76
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
I had been meaning to read this controversial book for some time now, but only recently did I pick The Bible Code up to see just what all the brouhaha was really about. This is certainly an interesting subject, but I was a little disappointed in the theory, arguments, and proofs presented here. As the book progressed, the open mind I began the book with started to shrink, as Drosnin began to backpedal and hurt his own case. I don't doubt the author's faith in the method and results of his work, but this book falls way short of convincing me that the Bible Code exists and, if so, that its existence is even meaningful. The book has a number of weaknesses. First of all, Drosnin is a former reporter working outside of his trained field; The Bible Code is supposedly built on a sophisticated mathematical model, and its interpretation requires significant knowledge of the Hebrew language in its original form – the original language of the first five books of the Bible. He presents us with printout after printout of data, but all I can do is stare at the Hebrew letters; the actual scientific paper that first delved into this mathematical issue is included in an appendix, but the math is way over my head. Drosnin says other mathematicians have verified that the model is correct, but I just have to take his word for it. I simply don't have any significant data upon which to form an opinion yea or nay about the Bible code. Drosnin may actually have done better to include no illustrations whatsoever; what I see are foreign letters marked in areas all over a given page; it's like a find-a-word puzzle, only the letters of your words don't even have to be connected directly. Odds of given terms "crossing" one another on one page are given, but I still don't know how these odds were determined. Drosnin also indicates that the same model was run against two other long books and showed no kind of code whatsoever, but two books alone seems to be a small sample set, and I have no idea how many attempted searches were done in these limited sample sets.
The "evidence" sounds pretty good at first. Drosnin constantly repeats the fact that the Bible Code predicted the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister Rabin, the collision of the comet Shoemaker-Levy into Jupiter, the start of the first Gulf War, etc., all to the very day. Tell me more, you think to yourself. This is where Drosnin starts to slip, however. He spends most of his time talking about Armageddon, specifically how Jerusalem will be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. He was certainly right in naming terrorist acquisition of weapons of mass destruction to be the greatest threat to the modern world, but prophesying trouble in the Middle East doesn't exactly require a Karnak. He predicts that then-Prime Minister Netanyahu will be assassinated and that Israel will be attacked in 1996. This book was published in 1997, completed after 1996 came and went. Suddenly we find Drosnin discovering that the word "delayed" just so happens to turn up alongside all of those dire predictions of his. He actually expresses the opinion that a delay in Netanyahu's visit to Jordan prevented the Armageddon he had predicted. The Bible Code, he now decides, must include eventualities, things that may come to pass, things that we can prevent from coming to pass. This back pedaling hurts his credibility quite a bit in my eyes.
In summary, I can't argue the mathematical validity of The Bible Code in any way, shape, or form, but Drosnin's arguments fail to convince me that he is right about this subject. He can barely find anything in his code until that "thing" has already happened, and it seems to me that finding a few related words after the fact on a sheet full of letters is no difficult feat. I do know that there is one definite error in the book, as Drosnin (and the Bible Code) shows that FDR declared war on Japan on December 7, 1941, when war was not declared until the following day, December 8. As for the predictions he did make about the future, he doesn't exactly go out on a limb. There will be strife in the Middle East and a series of earthquakes in Japan. These things happen every year, so these are hardly convincing prophetic tests of his code. I can't say The Bible Code does not exist the way Drosnin says it does, but it will take a whole lot more evidence to ever convince me of such a fact.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 1998
How does the Bible Code work? It's a giant 'find the word' puzzle with a number of tricks which make it easier to find words. These tricks should be apparent to someone with even the most rudimentary knowledge of Hebrew, but in the book the Hebrew letters are shown in the code samples, but they are never analyzed. Drosnin never mentions whether the "word" he finds is generally translated the way he translates it, or whether his way is an unusual alternative with many more likely translations. For example, the word he translates "assassin" in connection with Yitzak Rabin's assassination is generally translated "murder" or "murderer" in the Bible. While some of the discoveries seem unlikely, difficult to account for, here are some things to bear in mind when considering the validity of the code:
1. Bear in mind that in finding the code, the Torah is placed on the computer-equivalent of a cylinder which can be expanded or contracted until a match is found. With every letter added to the horizontal length of the lines, a whole new set of words becomes possible vertically and diagonally (they remain the same horizontally). The reference to the ten commandments being computer-generated is found in a segment only ten letters wide, whereas some words have letters spaced chapters apart-which can be juxtaposed only by expanding the cylinder to a thousand letters or more in width.
2. The hardest part to find is a person's name, but given that the name can be read in any direction, with any number of equidistant spaces between the letters, and that the computer can adjust the line length, and that any possible variation of spelling is allowed, and that abbreviations, initials, and nicknames are allowed, the wonder would be if any name could not be found (see p. 27). Drosnin generally finds the name vertically by expanding or contracting the line length, then looks for the words around it.
3. The Hebrew used is "unvocalized," it does not use vowel pointings, but Drosnin uses the letters aleph, ayin, waw, and yod as semi-vowels where convenient. These semi-vowels can be used to approximate a number of vowels (yod might represent IH, EE, EYE, EH, EI, for example). Thus, exact spelling is not essential-"sounds similar" is close enough. If none of these semi-vowels occur, the word is simply read without vowels. (For example, President Clinton's name is spelled Q L Y N T W N. "President" is N S Y A which means "leader" or "ruler" and is in fact the Hebrew word for "president" today, though it could also be seen as "Nazi." "Hitler" is found as H Y T L R, and "Nazi" as N A DZ Y. "Shakespeare" occurs as Sh Q S P Y R, "Macbeth" as M Q B T, and "Hamlet" as HMLT. Note the cavelier attitude toward vowels.)
4. In giving the computer names to search for, every possible spelling is used, whether or not the spelling has ever been used. This increases the likelihood of a match. Also, usually the words used are Hebrew, but sometimes they are English (names).
5. Without vowel points, a three letter Hebrew root may have many meanings, thus perhaps quintupling the likelihood of a match. For example, the Hebrew root 'Ayin-Lamed-He, "'LH," with one set of vowels, can mean to ascend or break or excel or fall or offer (and many more), or with different vowels it means "holocaust" or "burnt offering"; or with yet other vowels it means a branch or leaf, or with other vowels it means occasion, or, with other vowels, iniquity. But Drosnin translates words in whatever way seems convenient for the meaning he wants to find.
6. Many modern Hebrew words are based on old words with ancient but related meanings. This makes it easier to find 'modern' words in the ancient text, even though when written, the words did not have the modern meanings. For example, the word for missile.
7. Hebrew has letters which represent different sounds but might be transliterated in English by the same letter. For example, he and heth might both be represented by an H, but the latter has a gutteral CH sound. Kaph and Qoph might be written as K, Q, or C. Taw and teth might both be written as a T. Samech, sin, shin, and zayin all might be seen as S sounds. These are not used interchangeably in Hebrew, nor do scholars who transliterate Hebrew in books and articles use them interchangeably, but they are in the Bible Code, whenever convenient. This increases the chance of a match.
8. The letter field is not made up of random letter, but made up of Hebrew words without vowels. This increases the chance of a horizontal match in Hebrew, of course, even if one rearranges the letters. That is to say, on any page, whatever the line length, there will be many Hebrew words already there, read right to left. Read left to right, some of these words have other meanings. If one begins with the second letter in a word rather than the first letter, one may get yet more words.
9. The dates are based on a letter / number code in which each letter represents a number. As the Torah is all letters, this also makes a match more likely. Also, modern Hebrew dates often leave off the millennium number (1891 would be written, in Hebrew letters, 891). Thus, Drosnin's finding of dates such as "2013" could as well be 1013 or 3013. He never explains this to his readers.
10. Most "pages" have a thousand or more letters to choose from, nearly every three of which constitute a Hebrew word root, in any direction. The chance of finding something somewhat significant on a page with a name on it is quite high. If nothing is found, perhaps the computer might find the name elsewhere.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2003
I'd read this book at the time of its first release (97-98?). While i found the reading experience fast-paced and exciting, the conclusions (as with most books on similar topics) generate more questions, and I was left thirsty for more follow up. The appendices to the book provide the mathematical and scientific methodlogy of the original 'Decoders' and subsequently there are are 5 software decoders i know of circulating on the Net. The main hitch to independent verification is learning/understanding Hebrew as it is a language that has many dualities in sounds for and meanings for different words and phrases... hence knowledge of context and word usage is also important. If you are so inclined, then you will have to research this and validate it for yourself. The original premise, though, is NOT a fantasy... ie. What are the chances of adjective words, statements or dates relating to a particular subject, appearing together in the Bible? eg. What are the chances of my name, birthdate, description of an event in my life, etc appearing in the Bible as opposed to any other Text/Book? The answer is obviously why the book was written, but the reader can easily get caught up in the politics and future-predictions, rather than digesting this eerie phenomena.
As for challenging your belief systems, that is an open question you must ask yourself at the end of the book - why did i buy/read this in the first place? I guess that is where Bible Code 2 comes in... but as a reader, this book was one of a few that started me off on my own 'investigation' of the answers. Suffice to say that, while at the time of release there were plenty of 'Doomsday-ers' publicising the end of the world in 2000, Michael Drosnin presented a 'thriller' to the world under a subtle context that 'we can change the future', and in that regard i found reading this book rewarding. Unless you are inquisitive and open minded at the same time, once you have read it, leave it on the book-shelf. If you are, and don't mind buying the next book, then the Bible Code 2 has more material that will impact on belief systems - but you must have read Bible Code 1 first.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2007
I first read this book when it came out in 1997. The one thing that really stuck in my mind was that World War 3 would occur in either 2000 or 2006.

Obviously, they didn't. Anything that could even be considered a World War didn't begin in either of those years. Considering that alot of the book is based on a Nuclear prophecy in 2000/2006, it's dicredited itself. I understand that newer editions "predict" the Twin Towers attacks. These "predictions" were absent from the original edition, and even if the code IS true, a predictive code isn't really much use if the predictions can only be found after the event.

Interesting topic, but maybe a different author would have made better use of the it.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2003
I've written an essay about this book for my Biblical Studies BA, and I'm learning the Hebrew langauge, so I feel at least partly qualified to write a review. So where to start?
From the beginning. The first page reads like drivel and the rest follow suit. Mr Drosnin, whom you will not be surprised to learn is a former newspaper reporter, writes like his tabloid brethren - staccato, one sentence paragraphs with sensationalist rhetoric he cannot possibly back up.
Although the study of Bible Codes is becoming a serious business, this is certainly not a serious book. He makes bizarre and patently untrue claims like the one about all Hebrew Bibles being exactly the same, word for word - they aren't, there are at least two major and differing versions (the Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the Leningrad Codex), and it doesn't take a genius to see that if you have two different sets of letters, you're going to produce two different sets of results.
Because many names and modern words are not rendered precisely in Hebrew and have to be transliterated, and the Tanak (Hebrew Bible) was originally written without vowels, he feels justified in making some incredible logical leaps. So, "Shakespeare" becomes "SHKSPYR" (okay, I guess), "MacBeth" becomes "MKBT" and "Netanyahu" becomes "NTNYHW". Umm, except sometimes "Netanyahu" becomes "NTNY-W". Now that's a flexible language! But can you guess who "'YYNSTYYN", "MKWWYY", & "'WZWWLD" are? (Answers below!)
My favourite part is when Mr. Drosnin uses the code to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs. You may remember the Bible, and how the dinosaurs put in a rather telling no-show. Apparently when God dictated the original Bible he didn't put the dinosaurs in, yet when he (supposedly) hid this code in the OT, he suddenly remembered them and stuffed the details in that way!
Save your money and don't waste your time, and give this book the wide berth it deserves. And Amazon, why can't I give it no stars?
(The answers, by the way, are "Einstein", "McVeigh" as in Timothy, the Oklahoma (or "'WKLHWMH") Bomber, and "Oswald", as in Lee Harvey)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 1998
It always amazes me what legnths people will go to avoid the truth. If the author/investigative reporter applied the same energy sans the mathematic mumbo-jumbo examining the claims of the Bible and Jesus Christ, I think he would find more astonishing results than the mysterious code.There are many scriptures that predict with 100% accuracy the time, date of the arrival of the Lord and exactly what happened at His crucifiction between 500 to 700 years before the event! (Read the Psalm 22, Psalm of the cross). There are literally hundreds of these throughout the Bible. It has been my understanding that a (Biblical) Prophet is considered a Prophet if he/she is 100% accurate 100% of the time.
I wonder if you applied a similar software model to the dictionary would achieve similar results? WHEN GOD REVEALS HIMSELF, TRUST ME YOU WILL KNOW IT!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 April 1999
I have read this book,(to my eternal regret) and was given a copy of the computer program involved by a credulous friend (whom I have since stopped speaking to) and have discovered a wealth of important predictions concerning past events in the Oxford English Thesaurus, when the Albanian refugee crisis began I tried combinations of important words and found SERBIA, TROUBLES, WAR and HOMELESS. Proof positive I think of the important message of prediction encoded for us by the Oxford university press. I also found LOVE, FILM, AWARD, SEVEN and PLAYWRIGHT, which neatly predicts the oscar sucess of Shakespeare in love, I don't think there can be any more to be said except that if you apply such a broad sequence of pattern matcing algorithms to any sufficiently long sequence of words you will find useful prophecies which, as with the works of Nostradamus are great for identifying events after they happen but less useful for making ACTUAL predictions. The old favourite in this field is that if you give a million monkeys a million typwriters and a million years to go at it, one of them will type the complete works of Shakespeare,it seems that it took them much less time to come up with this load of old tosh!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 1999
Michael Drosnin's THE BIBLE CODE illustrates well a real-life application of a mathematical idea which is at once simple and complex. The central notion presented is that the Torah (Old Testament) is riddled with predictions of the future encoded as equidistant letter sequences. Approximately 100 examples of this are given in the book.
Unfortunately, the mathematical problem upon which the book depends is given short shrift. Drosnin quotes a Harvard mathematician, an NSA cryptanalyst, among others, who seem to think that the phenomenon observed is unique and inexplicable. But this is clearly wrong. The same phenomenon *can* and has been observed in other works, such as Melville's MOBY DICK. The more words you string together, the greater the likelihood of finding words that match or describe events.
The book works well as non-fiction/fiction, is easy to read and quite compelling in it's way.
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on 3 August 1998
Read it, taste it, but don't swallow. For one, it is the kind of sensationalistic drivel that thoroughly deserves the heading 'bestseller' on the cover. It will no doubt have an effect on the absent-minded herd, who will praise Drosnin's trash as enlightenment to the truth.
Secondly, Drosnin's covert argument, which I took as attempting to provide concrete proof for the existence of God, is fundamentally flawed. As a radical skeptic (I use the term strictly in its philosophical sense, not the popular) I feel I must voice two very basic problems with the argument. One it is wrong for us to jump to the conclusion, given that the code exists, that the author of the code is the Christian god. We have merely assumed this as the most logical conclusion, but we have no certainty that this is the case. It is entirely possible that alien beings who have been controlling human minds since the dawn of the species, purposely planted the code into the bible, as a way for w! e humans to see the future, and of course the bible, being such a book for the masses, is the likely choice. This explanation for the author of the code carries exactly the same amount of certainty and credibility as the former. Secondly, we are simply making a prejudiced value judgement when we assign value to these 'coincidences' or 'consistencies' in the code. Humans seek meaning; that certainly does NOT make meaning meaningful. Why is not the frivolous valued rather than the meaningful? The untruth rather than the truth? It is simply an unsupported prejudice that we value what we do, and value the way we do.
So even if we assume that this code is 'valid' in the scientific, rational sense of the term, we humans are still to provide the interpretation of the facts. But when we are forced to do this, we find it impossible not to fill this interpretation with terms of value and unsupported prejudice. Thus we humans are still left in existential anguish.
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on 5 March 1999
I read The Bible Code under advisement that it was probably not legit. I found no gaping flaws in the theories and examples presented. Drosnin's work has been wracking my brain for 6 months, until now. My background is physics and electrical engineering, so I have a knack for spotting errors in stuff like this very quickly. Drosnin did a great job of presenting what seemed like the find of the century, if not all recorded human history. Some one named Micheal, who reviewed (in Cracking The Bible Code was one of the more serious naysayers of that book and the theme it presented. He graciously provided me with a URL that will quickly reduce the Bible Code theme to what it really is: nonsense. you will find that there is in fact very little actual science going on within the theme of an embedded code within the Torah. Turns out that Rabin's assasination and that of Lincoln are also embedded within ESLs in Moby Dick. And the Microsoft Access License Agreement also has amazing prior knowledge of future events! So before any of you go jumping into this fray, do your homework at the latter URL and then decide whether your time and money is better spent on something else. I just wish I had learned about the flip side sooner.
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