28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but certainly not very convincing,
This review is from: The Bible Code (Paperback)
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.