Controversy Over Codes and the Tanakh

There are many questions about Bible codes and the text they are found in. We address some of the basic questions here, and then provide links to articles that more fully discuss those questions.

How many different types of codes phenomena are there?

Equidistant Letter Sequences (ELSs), Matrices, Clusters, Visual Mosaics, Maps, Underscoring, Schwarztman Dialog Mode, and Minimal Distance Groups are some of the different types of code phenomena.

Equidistant letter sequence (ELS) skips can be either forward or backward. The following examples are given in English, as opposed to codes, which are in Hebrew.

Single Forward ELS

Wes is an equidistant letter sequence (ELS) within New Jersey with a skip of plus two.

ELSs can have a skip of any size (one or more).

Single Backward ELS

Sewn is an ELS within New Jersey with a skip of minus two.

Extended ELS

After finding a basic ELS we then look for an Extended ELS, which means looking for additional words extending either before or after the code at the same skip sequence. Wes, you sad is an extended ELS within New Jersey, so outstanding! with a skip of plus two.

Many codes can be found in a single matrix. Think of it like a crossword puzzle, but instead of filling in the letters, you are looking for letters that spell words, phrases or sentences within the matrix.

Clusters are all the codes found in a given section of the Tanakh (Old Testament). They can be at different skips, but still pass through the given text.

Visual mosaics appear within a single matrix, but the codes create a visual pattern, such as a cross.

To find out more about the various types of codes in the Tanakh, read An Introduction to the Range of Types of Bible Code Phenomena.

What difference would a single letter difference make?

We can use the Gettysburg Address to illustrate what a single letter difference in the text does to a code.

Suppose that there are two different versions of the beginning of the Gettysburg Address. The most widely accepted version reads: "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent . . . " In the other version, however, "our fathers" is replaced by "your fathers."

Now, suppose we lay these letters out on a mini-Scrabble board that is eight columns wide. Using version one, we find the word Brad as an ELS with a skip of minus eight in the fourth column of this board.

Using version two, however, the Brad ELS is split into two parts, with the first two letters (BR) being pushed over to the fifth column while the last two letters (AD), stay in the fourth column.

To fully explore what happens to the longest ELSs that appear in the second version, that were also once part of the Brad ELS from the first version, we need to examine the letter strings in both the fourth and fifth columns of the second mini-Scrabble board. In looking for extensions to the BR piece in the fifth column, we first note that BR is not a word, and second that no full word can be formed by picking up letters before or after it in the fifth column.

In looking for extensions to the AD piece in the fourth column, AD is a word, but no words can be formed by looking at the letters in the lower part of the fourth column.

Additional information can be found in the article The Effects of a Letter Insertion.

How many different types of errors could there be?

Several types of errors are possible in transcribing a text.
  • Substitution
  • Transposition
  • Omission
  • Insertion

Over the centuries, various errors have been made as scribes have penned new copies of the Hebrew Bible. If the "original" version of the Torah had been encoded, wouldn't such transcription errors seriously jeopardize Bible codes? Some code skeptics are quick to jump on this as a reason to totally dismiss the phenomenon. In reality, however, this is yet another example of a hasty leap from a half-truth to a hoped for whole-truth.

A more sober and rational look at the whole issue reveals a much more complex situation. In some sense, the effects of transcription errors are a bit like the scrambling of a TV transmission. The amount of key information that gets lost along the way could either be small or large. In the case of TV, the extent of lost or distorted information fluctuates quickly back and forth. Intriguingly, though, there is no doubt that a coherent picture was originally sent. In the case of Bible codes, the effect of transcription errors is fixed, but impossible to precisely determine.

Read more about all types of errors in The Effects of Transcription Errors.

Are code skeptics who believe textual differences make codes invalid just putting God in a box?

Michael S. Heiser, a former Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages scholar at the University of Wisconsin, who currently works as Scholar-in-Residence for Faithlife Corporation, argued that scholars are basing their findings on a faulty text in his self-published book, The Bible Code Myth. In our review of his book, originally published in 2001, we discussed whether or not his views presuppose a small God, incapable of encoding a text that would be compiled over time. Read more about it in A Review of The Bible Code Myth by Michael S. Heiser.

Do textual differences invalidate codes or create opportunities for additional codes?

In the past, some code skeptics have argued that the existence of such differences invalidates the possible existence of codes. In our view, this is an extreme position unsupported by either investigation or evidence.

There are 14 letter differences between the Hebrew text used by the search program Keys to the Bible (Keys) and the program CodeFinder. Keep in mind that that is 14 letters out of the 1,196,921 letters that make up the Tanakh. That is a minute percentage and none of the instances appear in the Torah.

The following 22-letter code was originally found in Keys,

Gushing from above, Jesus is my mighty name, and the clouds rejoiced.

When we examined the code in CodeFinder, we found that the 22-letter code extended to a 40-letter code.

Gushing from above, Jesus is my mighty name, and the clouds rejoiced.
Where? At the mountain, said Levi. Their light came. God is in it.

In this instance, rather than invalidating the code, the letter differences resulted in a significantly longer code. To find out more about it, read The Unexpected Effects of Letter Differences on Codes.

Continue to Forty-Letter Code Dramatically Links Isaiah 53 with Gospel Accounts of the Transfiguration of Christ.

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