Book Review: The Bible Code

By Michael Drosnin, 1999

Review by Ian Mander BSc, 20 May 2000, updated 26 March 2018.

Last Saturday I went to see the movie The Omega Code, a movie I think partly inspired by The Bible Code. I say partly inspired because the "codes" involved are quite different. On my way home from the movie I stopped at a friend's house, and found she had an unread copy of The Bible Code. Liking to keep an open mind, I decided to read it, and after finding the first page interesting and the rest of the first chapter a real "bang my head against a brick wall" struggle, found the rest of the book quite interesting.

The codes the book talks about are words found in the Hebrew text of the first five books of the Bible by taking letters determined by a regular skip. For example, taking every 50th letter in Genesis (just the first few) spells out the Hebrew word Torah. Fine so far, but so what? If two discovered hidden words (with same or different skip steps) are reasonably close to each other, or even crossing, they allegedly form a code. The code may predict the future, or recount a past event (which was still a prediction 3000 years ago when he says those books were written).

Mr Drosnin claims that using these "codes", assassinations, calamities, moon-landings etc are all predicted.

Throughout my reading, however, I had a real problem with his claim that these sorts of codes are not found in any other book, Hebrew or otherwise. But he stated it emphatically: They were only to be found in the Bible.

So I went searching the Internet. One of the first things I found was a CNN interview with the author in which he claimed words to the effect of "These things don't occur in Moby Dick." That piqued my interest, so with advice from my brother I searched for "Bible code" and "Moby Dick." Bingo.

What Michael Drosnin doesn't point out in his book is that he omits all vowels from his Hebrew text. This alone makes his task of finding hidden words hugely easier, since whatever the desired vowels are can be added. Australian mathematition Brendon McKay took up Drosnin's challenge, and just to make it harder on himself, used the straight text of Moby Dick, vowels and all.

He found "codes" of assassinations and significant events in Moby Dick just like in Drosnin's Hebrew Bible. But my favourite one was a Moby Dick code that Dr McKay called The Demise of Drosnin. Yes, Moby Dick apparently predicts the violent death of The Bible Code author. What's more, the word LIAR appears in The Demise of Drosnin code no less than three times, and LIES once.

In conclusion: No code has been found in the Bible which could not also be found in any other book. If you're looking for divine revelation, just read the plain text of the Bible. If you're looking for hidden messages, give Moby Dick a try – it'll be as good as anything else.


Predictions made by Drosnin include:

  • There will be a nuclear (atomic) holocaust and world war in 2000 or 2006.
    • Update: Didn't happen in either of those years.
  • The Armageddon will be in the lifetime of Syria's present leader Hafiz al-Assad.
    • Update: Didn't happen. Hafiz al-Assad died on 10 June 2000, less than one month after I wrote this review.
  • There will be (a) fire and an earthquake in Los Angeles, California in 2010.
    • Update: Didn't happen. There was a wild fire in LA in 2010 which was not unusual at all – there were a total 17 wild fires in California that year which destroyed 1000 acres or more) and it wasn't the most destructive wildfire in California that year in terms of either area or structures destroyed. It wasn't caused by an earthquake. For a really big LA earthquake you have to go back to the 1994 quake, before the publication of this book.
  • There will be a great earthquake in 2000 (or 2006).
    • Update: Didn't happen. The most deadly earthquake in 2000 only killed 103 people – much less than other years. There are large earthquakes every year, but none in 2000 or 2006 notably greater than in other years. This prediciton is so non-specific as to be useless.
  • There will be an earthquake in China in 2000 (also 2006).
    • Update: He might just as well as predicted rainfall in China sometime during those two year; according to this list notable earthquakes in China occur regularly. There were no notable earthquakes in China in 2000 (ie, failed prediction), but there was one in 2006; a magnitude 5.2 quake, it killed 22 people and buckled some railway lines. It was right at the lower end of 1,865 magnitude 5.0 or greater earthquakes that happened in 2006 and killed far fewer people than either of two earthquakes in Java that year (total 6,479 killed). That a much more serious Chinese earthquake in 2008 was missed in favour of 2000 or 2006 can only mean the prediction was wrong.
  • There will be a collision [of Earth?] with a comet in 2006.
    • Update: Didn't happen.

In listing the above predictions, I note that earthquakes in LA aren't all that infrequent anyway. The city rests uneasily on multiple fault lines. There are also almost regular fires in the hills surrounding LA, which are often serious enough to destroy homes.

A review which deals more specifically with the end of the world predictions can be read here (broken link).

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