Monday, February 02, 2004

Review of

Cracking the Bible Code

by Jeffrey Satinover

This is the text of the somewhat hurried review I dashed off to Amazon. - C.S.

Satinover's book, introducing us to the Bible/Torah Codes, is a well-written weavework of, as he sees it, related areas of research such as Jewish religious tradition and history, cryptology, computing, statistics, lunar month computations, the ninth of Ab, and even quantum physics.

In his book, he also addresses the problem of the many amateur "debunkers" who find "codes" in other texts - and who do not use the same rigorous methodology or standards employed by researchers such as Witztum or Diaconis. It is fascinating to see reviews by people who claim to have read his book but still do not understand that the Torah Codes phenomenon is not just about skipping letters to see what you can find. Any text - and, perhaps, a thousand monkeys with ELS software - can yield ELSs in the basic sense, but what is unique about the Torah Codes is the statistical strangeness as described in Satinover's book, the stringent methodology employed, and the fact that the ELS features in the Torah were not uncovered after the fact, but actually predicted beforehand. Perhaps a re-reading of this book is in order before you start loading in the Hebrew translation of "Great Expectations."

For example, one researcher predicted the AHRN cluster just because it seemed suspicious that Aaron was not mentioned in a passage where he was of prime importance, except in the context of "sons of Aaron." Another is the prediction that they would find the names of all the fruit trees indigenous to Israel in the passage about the Garden of Eden, where no names of trees are given. This is a different kind of ELS phenomenon altogether. Finding ELSs about assassinations and such in texts after the fact, picking and choosing results, etc. are not fair game in serious (Torah) ELS research.

Satinover agrees that efforts at confirmation or debunking should continue, but trivial stuff like the "Moby Dick" codes should not undermine the real work - at least until such "examples" meet the same levels of proof, which seems unlikely.

As a sort of bonus, there is the added mystery of the Jewish lunar calculations, which, according to his tables, are of an accuracy within 2 parts in a million (did I remember that right?) when compared with modern satellite figures. Why did the Jews ignore the results used by the other cultures around them, and how did they arrive at their own amazingly accurate number? Satinover presents to us the arcane knowledge involved, steeped in Jewish tradition, that boggles the mind.

Research continues, but my own feeling about it, after reading this book, is - surrender. You can now put away your toy "ELS analyses" of "War and Peace" and "Earth in the Balance." The Torah Codes are real. Now what are you going to do about it?

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