For a lot of people, the Bible and mathematics are dry subjects, but not for Edwin Sherman – he believes he’s found how the two fit together.
Sherman, founder of the Isaac Newton Bible Code Research Society and a professional mathematician, is convinced that the Hebrew Bible contains coded messages that are evidence of God’s authorship of the Bible. His book, “Bible Code Bombshell: Compelling Scientific Evidence that God Authored the Bible,” describes numerous examples of encoded phrases and sentences that are both lengthy and relevant to the text where they were found.
In 1997, Michael Drosnin, a reporter, wrote “The Bible Code,” a book based on the work of Israeli mathematician Eli Rips that attained popularity, in part, from Drosnin’s claim that future events, such as the Holocaust, Yitzak Rabin’s assassination and the Gulf War were encoded in the Bible.
Such claims invited attacks from skeptics like mathematician and physicist Dave Thomas, who wrote in 1997, “Hidden messages can be found anywhere provided you’re willing to invest time and effort to harvest the vast field of probability. He, Drosnin, underestimates the power of chance combined with the brute force of computers. He says these messages are beyond the power of chance, and I’ve proven they are not.”
Another skeptic who was convinced he could prove Drosnin’s messages to be fakes or statistical artifacts was Edwin Sherman.
R. Edwin Sherman (courtesy Southern Oregon News)
Sherman says he found most of Drosnin’s examples trivial. “They were the simple kinds of words and phrases you might find if you searched for encoded messages in the Jerusalem phone book,” he tells the Southern Oregon News. But he was intrigued enough to develop his own software and begin analyzing the Masoretic text of the Old Testament. “I was very skeptical about the whole thing,” he says. “I started a project to try and show the whole thing was bogus.”
Instead, he says he found many examples of messages that went beyond simple words and phrases – and they often were contextually similar to the Biblical passage in which they were found.
“Finding dozens of lengthy encoded messages on the same topic in one short section of text is about as likely as winning a one-in-a-million jackpot ten times in a row,” he told the paper. “Basically, it cannot happen by chance.”
The process of searching for encoded messages involves analysis of the biblical Hebrew text in digital form. The Scriptures are encoded by removing all spaces between words and creating long strings of letters. According to Sherman, vowels are inserted in the strings of letters – the Hebrew alphabet lacks vowels – following standard rules based on the sequence of consonants. Software then analyzes the strings in search of patterns based on equidistant letter sequences.
“The shorter an expression, the easier it is to find,” Sherman notes in Southern Oregon News, “but when we find longer statements that have a connection to the actual biblical passage, and we find those longer statements with frequency, it leads us to believe that those statements were purposely implanted in the Bible by God.”
Some of the most compelling evidence of a mathematical pattern in the Hebrew text comes from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, a passage most Bible scholars see as messianic and which Christians have traditionally seen as prophecy about Jesus.
Sherman developed a baseline using non-encoded Hebrew texts as his standard of comparison for determining whether the number of messages he found in a Biblical passage were statistically significant. Isaiah 53 proved to be a rich cluster of hidden messages, containing 42 encoded statements relating to Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, far more than his baseline predicted.
As evidence, Sherman points to statements such as “Gushing from above, my mighty name arose upon Jesus, and the clouds rejoiced,” “Dreadful day for Mary,” “In his name as he commanded, Jesus is the way,” “Resurrection of Jesus, he is risen indeed,” and others that echo Isaiah’s prophecy.
It is the coherence between the hidden messages and the Hebrew text from which they are drawn that excites Sherman, who has no interest in predicting the future or looking for new “truths.” The messages plucked from the text are more like divine fingerprints.
“The Bible itself claims to be written by God, and when the subject of the encoded messages ties in so closely with the subject of the literal text, it has to make you take notice,” Sherman told the paper. “I just want … to capture the curiosity of skeptics and cause them to consider the possibility that the Bible is not written by men, but by God, and should therefore be taken very seriously.”
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