Over the past several years, much controversy has been generated by statistical research originally done in Israel on what have come to be known as the "Bible Codes" or "Codes in Torah." This legitimate statistical work on equal-interval letter-skip patterns found in the book of Genesis was published in the August 1994 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Statistical Science. Presentations of this research for popular audience have taken many different forms, ranging from reporter Michael Drosin's book, The Bible Code, through the"Discovery Seminars" run by the Jewish outreach organization Aish haTorah, and onward to various Christian and messianic groups attempting to use this material to make points of their own. Many of these popular presentations, unfortunately, range much farther afield than the original researchers ever intended to go, and until recently, responsible articles written for the educated non-statistician on the subject of the codes in Torah have been few and far between.
In October 1995, Bible Review magazine published an article by Jeffrey B. Satinover, MD, Ph.D., outlining the history of this statistical research and its basic findings. A psychiatrist with a private practice in psychotherapy, psychiatry and psychopharmacology, Satinover also serves as medical director for the Temenos Institute Psychiatric Clinic, in Westport, Connecticut. We are pleased to present here Dr. Satinover's complete article on the "Codes in Torah," reprinted with permission both from the author and from Bible Review. In a separate section, we also present Dr. Satinover's responses to letters received and printed by Bible Review which commented on his article (these letters, and Dr. Satinover's responses, appeared in the February 1996 issue).
Divine Authorship? Computer Reveals Startling Word Patterns
Article ©1995 Dr. Jeffrey B. Satinover
Reprinted with permission from Bible Review, Vol. IX, No. 5, October 1995
Complete and Unedited
Letters to the Editors
of Bible Review: Dr. Satinover Responds
Dr. Satinover's response to readers' questions and comments, many of which echoed objections
originally made to this work by statistical professionals. Dr. Satinover's piece explains some of the
statistical researchers' responses to these common objections to their findings, and adds more details
about the tests required by the review committee for Statistical Science before they would publish this research.
(Note that readers' letters are not reproduced here, and names (where Dr. Satinover used them) have been removed.)
Cracking the Bible Code, a book by Dr.
Jeffrey B. Satinover:
Review and Recommendation by Stan Tenen
Review ©1997 Stan Tenen
Articles Critical of the "Codes in Torah"
Many well-reasoned criticisms of this work have also been written, and studies have been designed to point out flaws in the statistical methods used by Witztum, Rips, and Rosenberg (the authors of the original Statistical Science article). Statistician Prof. Abraham Y. Hasofer of Australia has written criticisms of the Statistical Science paper from a methodological point of view, and also (and somewhat more accessibly to the average reader) has strongly criticized their use for outreach (as is done in the "Discovery Seminars"). He originally published his Codes in Torah: A Rejoinder in 1993 in the journal B'Or Ha'Torah, vol. 8E. He has recently revised this article, which is now titled Torah Codes: Reality or Illusion. We highly recommend Prof. Hasofer's article.
Codes: Reality or Illusion
©1998 Prof. A.Y. Hasofer
This abridged version of Prof. Hasofer's article is posted on a website maintaned by Prof. Brendan McKay,
one of the chief critics of the "Codes" research (and indeed, of what he calls "mathematical miracles" in general).
Prof. McKay's page of links on the "Torah Codes" material includes pointers
to other articles on this subject which may be of interest.
Brendan McKay's "Torah Codes" page
In addition to Profs. Hasofer and McKay, many other mathematical professionals have also
expressed strong reservations about the "Codes in Torah". Prof. Barry Simon of Cal Tech has
organized a petition that expresses some of their major concerns.
Statement on the Bible Codes
Maintained by Prof. Barry Simon
the Bible Code Puzzle, by McKay, Dror-Natan, Bar-Hillel, and Kalai
1999 peer-reviewed paper by McKay, et al., refuting the "Famous Rabbis" experiment
This paper, published in the May 1999 issue of Statistical Science (printed in September 1999)
has considerably altered the "playing-field" for the discussion of the Equal-Interval Letter Skip patterns
in the Hebrew text of the Bible. This paper is available for download via Brendan McKay's website.
Essays by Stan Tenen on the Equal Interval Letter Skip Patterns and the "Codes in Torah"
We believe that Meru Foundation's work may shed some light on the Equal-Interval Letter Skip (ELS) patterns: how they might have been generated, and what their significance might be. Below are some informal essays and other material by Stan Tenen presenting our speculations on the subject.
Equal Interval Letter Skip Patterns: Specific
Solutions ©1996 Stan Tenen
This unpublished letter by Stan Tenen to Bible Review magazine comments on
Dr. Satinover's article, Divine Authorship?, and on the "Codes in Torah" in general.
Comments on Torah and Science: The "Torah Codes"
Comment posted in 1997 on a Jewish-oriented mailing list by Isaac Zlotchower, and
a clarification he sent via email to Stan Tenen
Comments on Prof. Hasofer's article, Torah
Codes: Reality or Illusion ©1998 Stan Tenen
These informal comments on Prof. Hasofer's article were composed as a response to
the electronic mail correspondent who first sent it to us. This piece covers only a few
selected topics, and is not intended to be a formal review of Prof. Hasofer's article.
Comments by Stan Tenen on McKay's article, Solving
the Bible Code Puzzle
Emailed comments to a colleague on how this 1999 article refuting the rabbi name-date correlations
effects the study of the ELS patterns in general
Comments on the Torah Codes: Posting for the
Mail-Jewish Discussion List ©2000 Stan Tenen
The following essay was part of an ongoing discussion of Torah Codes in the Mail-Jewish
email discussion list, posted in Mail-Jewish Vol. 30 #83, 12 January 2000.
In the summer of 1997, Stan Tenen did two radio interviews on the Bible Codes on Art Bell's Coast to Coast, an all-night program devoted to unusual and esoteric topics. Note that this program is designed for a general audience, with no background in Jewish learning, and only a slight awareness of science. However, the format allows the speaker enough uninterrupted time each half-hour to make a coherent presentation, and so the feedback we have received on these interviews is quite positive.
As of March 2000,
Stan Tenen's two 1997 interviews on Coast to Coast are not currently
available online. Apparently, Coast to Coast is between servers
for the Archives of older interviews, and no decision has been made as
to whether, or where, to re-post them. Up to date information can
be found at www.coasttocoastam.com/guest/tenen-stan/6379,
audiocassette recordings of Mr. Tenen's interviews may still be available.
Contents of this page are ©1998, ©2000 Stan
Tenen, and licensed to Meru Foundation, 524 San Anselmo Ave. #214, San Anselmo, CA 94960.
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