Peeranormal 13: Bible Codes

Back in mid-nineties a peer-reviewed article was published that sought to legitimize the idea that the Hebrew text of Genesis encrypted meaningful information about modern persons and events. Their method for detecting the presumed encrypted knowledge was known as equidistant letter sequencing (ELS).This article (Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg) became a reference point for journalist Michael Drosnin, who wrote the bestselling book, The Bible Code, shortly thereafter. Subsequent to the success of Drosnin’s book, Bible-code research expanded to the full Torah and beyond, to the rest of the Hebrew Bible. In this episode we ask whether there is such a thing as ELS Bible codes. Have other statisticians and biblical scholars agreed with Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg, or are there serious problems with the method and its assumptions?


Witztum, Doron, Eliyahu Rips, and Yoav Rosenberg, “Equidistant letter sequences in the Book of Genesis,” Statistical Science 9.3 (1994): 429-438

McKay, Brendan, Dror Bar-Natan, Maya Bar-Hillel, and Gil Kalai, “Solving the Bible Code puzzle,” Statistical Science (1999): 150-173.

Richard A. Taylor, “The Bible Code: ‘Teaching them [wrong] things,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 43, no. 4 (2000): 619-636

Paul J. Tanner. “Decoding the Bible Code,” Bibliotheca Sacra 157 (2000): 141-159.

Link to Naked Bible Podcast Episode 104: How we got the Old Testament