Another Good Question - Bible Codes & Hidden Messages

We just wrapped up a very cool series of messages at Harvest, where I basically let the congregation determine what we were going to teach on. They submitted a bunch of really good questions, touching on Bible, theology, ethics, current events, and a lot more. I addressed them during our Sunday worship services, suggesting how we can think Biblically about each question. It was a blast!

One of the questions I didn't get to on a Sunday was as follows: "What do you think about The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin? I heard about it but it sounded a little weird…”

Well, the writer of this question has a good instinct. The general idea behind Drosnin’s books (I understand there’s a Bible Code 2 and even a Bible Code 3 now) is that by looking at the Hebrew text of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) one can apply a complicated encryption method and discover secret messages that are hidden within the text. These messages can then be de-coded, and are generally said to be able to predict future events. Sounds cool huh? Anyone curious enough to go buy a copy?

Save your money.

I could elaborate on lots of reasons why Drosnin’s idea is nonsense, including the fact that he’s a journalist (not a scholar), that others have also alleged such things before so this is nothing new, and that every time someone like Drosnin makes these kinds of claims they always stand to sell a lot of books and make a boat-load of money. Curious.

But the most important reason has nothing to do with this particular book or its author. Rather, the really important issue here is how Christians should read the Bible. Simply put, God’s word is not a magic book from which we divine mysterious and elusive secrets. Nor is it some deep conspiracy riddle that needs to be solved.

A secret message in the Hebrew Bible? Don't bet on it.

Instead, the Bible is God’s very plain and understandable explanation of the way the world works, and how we fit into it. He intends that when we read it we would understand what he’s been up to in human history, and how we should live in light of that. God didn’t embed secret codes in the Bible that predict future events, reserved only for the select few who are insightful enough to successfully complete some mysterious scavenger hunt. Nor did he encode messages that could only be deciphered by modern cryptography, leaving centuries-worth of his own followers in the dark. In the Bible, God has spoken to all people at all times, plainly.

How can I say that with such certainty? Because of the example of Jesus and the apostles, who never looked for secret messages and hidden meanings in the Bible. Instead, they followed the plainly evident flow of thought in God’s word. They looked at what the Bible says and how it's put together, and in so doing they understood its real message: it points to a coming Messiah who would be the centerpiece of God’s plan of redemption.

How did they come to that conclusion? What were they looking at that helped them see what the Bible’s message was? I will describe that in our Fall sermon series at Harvest. We’ll look at the way God put the Bible together, and we’ll see what message it sends. And I think I can demonstrate convincingly that Jesus and the apostles read it the same way, and thus understood it the same way. Don’t miss it!

And don’t be surprised when the Bible's flow as I describe it this Fall has nothing to do with secret codes, hidden meanings, or selling tons of books to make me rich.

21 comments:

Norm Patriquin said...

Not really sure about Bible codes but suspect there is something to them. I've run across another different but related discovery. Here are some Bible surprises:

#1 Psalms 117 is the middle chapter of the Bible and is also the shortest and only two verse chapter in the Bible – How did it get at this very unique centerpoint location? It's cross bible verse numbers also point to the split between the OT and NT but that's another story.

#2 John 3, home of John 3:16 in the 1000th chapter – 1000 is said by Josephus to be God’s number of perfection—The most important chapter at the perfect position—How?

#3 Psalms 22, Jesus on the cross --the 500th chapter – one of most important chapters with very unique chapter number to be coincidence.

#4 The 24,000th Bible verse is Matthew 24:42 a verse 42 about the DAY of the LORD in a chapter 24 about the DAY of the LORD. (42 is 24 in reverse) A little signpost by God telling us...pay attention!

#5 Rev 14:4 - the Bible's description of the 144,000 (note verse ref closely)

One of 1,000s of evidences for a never before imagined supernatural structure of God's Word being revealed in these last days... AmazingWord

Matt Guerino said...

Hi Norm,

Welcome to the blog! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

The five items you list are certainly interesting. The reason I don't take much from such observations is that they're all predicated on the chapter and verse numbers, which weren't part of the Bible originally. They were added later for ease of reference, and thus they aren't inspired - that is, they aren't considered part of God's message.

So the observation about Matthew 24:42, for instance, is intriguing. But a plain reading of the Bible is what tells us "the Day of the Lord is coming, PAY ATTENTION!" That's one of the constant refrains throughout both testaments, and is amply clear whether the chapter and verse numbers are there or not.

My $0.02!

Norm Patriquin said...

I understand how impossible it sounds. I rejected the thought for years before I gave in to the evidences. Remember, men wrote the scriptures but we consider them God's Word. Men canonized it and we consider it the inspired word of God. Men numbered it but we don't consider that inspired---there's really no difference. If you consider the evidence, it is overwhelming. For example, the cross book verse numbers of Psalms 117:1-2 are 1929 and 1930. The only two verses in this center book have numbers that match the chapter number for the last chapter of the OT and the first chapter of the NT? Also Matthew 1, the first chapter of the NT is the 930th chapter and there are 39 chapter of the OT. Coincidence 930 is essentially 39 in reverse. There's a DNA like perfection in the Bible structure.

Thanks for a great understanding and considerate note. God's revealing things in his own time and I suspect people will come to accept God's numbering when he decides. I suspect it may be something that Jesus uses to show the Jews he is their waited for messiah. This is not about selling books, but rather about getting the word out. Can I send you a copy? Where?

BTW...chart on your post from Harvest has a broken link. I live down the street from them, but don't attend there.

Norm
Riverside, CA

Matt Guerino said...

Actually, the "Harvest" in that link is the church I pastor here in Oregon. I just tested the link and it worked for me?

http://www.harvestcc.org/docs/godsredemptiveplan.jpg

Norm Patriquin said...

Your right. It worked this time. Thanks.

Glenn Sunshine said...

So Norm, you are arguing that the chapter divisions and verse numbers added centuries--even in some cases millennia--after the text are inspired?

Matt Guerino said...

That's a good question Glenn.

Also, if you read my previous post about the order of the Biblical books as Jesus & the Apostles had them, you'll notice that it's different. This means several of the numerical observations don't hold - Psalm 117, for instance, isn't the center chapter of the Bible as Jesus and the Apostles read it because the Psalms appear later in that ordering. If God were to use such chapter numberings to sway the Jews, one would think he'd use the Hebrew Bible to do it, not the English Bible.

So the idea seems based on a numerical system that was added much later merely for reference, as well as the particular order of the books in the English Bible. That makes me more inclined to see your observations as coincidences rather than a divinely inspired message from God.

Norm Patriquin said...

Glenn,

I wouldn’t say that I argue it as much as I would say that the evidence demands that’s what happened…

We know God’s ways are higher that our ways and we accept we can’t comprehend how he does things, but we can see the results. Note that is not just a matter of numbering--the numbers had to be assigned but not yet written down when God inspired the original text so they could be added in later at the appropriate time. Stephen Langton who was one responsible for the numbering was said to be a man of the Holy Spirit. Only God knows how he (God) did it but I think it is likely Langton did the numbering without realizing the Holy Spirit was actually directing every pen stroke. It’s incomprehensible how this could be accurately done, but also note that for all this to work out in the perfection the numbers demand, God’s word had to be preserved exactly (at least down to the verse level) as God desired through every writing of every book--thousands of years. I’m sure you know the verse well but I suspect nobody realized how completely God meant it -- Matt 5:18 "…not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law…

If you will indulge another evidence...

The cross Bible verse numbers and cross book verse numbers are inspired in the DNA like perfection of scripture and if you number every verse in KJV type translations you will have cross Bible verse numbers from 1-31,102. There are only three of all these verses that contain four sevens in the cross Bible verse number; 1Sam 21:4, Isa 6:7, Act 24:7. 777 and 7777 are numbers related to being complete where the number 7 by itself is more about becoming complete. Many 777 related verses in the Bible speak about various aspects of being saved or redeemed. Maybe the most intense verse in the Bible regarding being forgiven is found at Isa 6:7 where Isaiah’s mouth was touched with a coal and he was cleansed. It would be an incredible coincidence if this was the 17,777th verse in the Bible by chance—I believe it was placed here by God. This verse stands on it’s own as strong evidence for a supernaturally inspired Bible but let’s see what the other two 7777 related verses say.

The 7,777th verse is 1Sam 21:4 about the consecrated bread – The pattern holds, 7777 is related to being cleansed and this bread has been "consecrated/cleaned". The third and last 7777 verse is just a tiny bit less clear but the association seems there. Acts 24:7 is related to sin and cleansing. Paul was accused of desecrating the temple in v6 and in v7 “the commander”, with much violence took the accused sinner out. Like any study of God’s word, this is a matter of interpretation but the numbers seem to support that in v6 (27,776th verse) we see sin and desecration (even though it is a false accusation which is also a great sin--six is a number for sin and redemption). In the next verse we see the commander (chief caption) which might be a type of reference to Jesus who came and removed the accused out from their hands. There’s lots of ways you might go with this but it seems the theme of 7777 appears in the 27,777 verse.

I think it is not coincidence the only three 7777 verses are clearly to do with being cleansed and one maybe the most intense cleansing verse in the Bible. Only a supernatural God could have arranged the perfection numbers confirm in his word.

The three 7777 verse examples

(7,777th) 1Sam 21:4 The priest answered David and said, "There is no ordinary bread on hand, but there is consecrated bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women."

(17,777th) Isa 6:7 He touched my mouth {with it} and said, "Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven."

(27,776th) Act 24:6 "And he even tried to desecrate the temple; and then we arrested him. [We wanted to judge him according to our own Law.
(27,777th) Act 24:7 "But Lysias the commander came along, and with much violence took him out of our hands,

Sorry, I got carried away, this stuff is amazing.
Norm

Matt Guerino said...

Norm,

You get the Longest Comment award!

But respectfully, I still disagree. In Matthew 5:18 Jesus is making the point that he did not come to overturn the Torah (translated "law") or the Prophets (he's describing the Hebrew Bible; see chart in my previous post). That's what he means by not altering a single letter or jot. When he said this, our current chapter and verse numbers were not in the Bible and the books were ordered differently.

If we take your basic argument (that God added inspired numbers and book sequence later on) then we're on shaky ground. Did he also inspire the notes in my study Bible? They were written by men, but those men were godly, scholarly men who prayed fervently as they wrote. Did he inspire the cross references? The Concordance? If anything that a "godly" man does with the Bible can be considered further revelation from God, then why stop at the numbers you cite?

Orthodox Christian theology has always understood the canon of Scripture to have been closed for the past 2,000 years, and the Bible as inspired in it's original form. As amazing as all those numerical "coincidences" seem to you, I think your belief radically alters (and unfortunately begins to undermine) our confidence that God has spoken to us authoritatively in his Word.

Not trying to pick on you! I can tell you're sincere in your belief. But I have to honestly say I don't anticipate seeing the light you're hoping I eventually will. I don't think there's any light there, as I believe your position raises more problems with the Bible than it does elevate the Bible.

Blessing brother,

Matt

Norm Patriquin said...

RE ..order of the Biblical books...numerical observations don't hold

First, let me say I don't want to become a pest and will stop responding whenever anyone thinks we have gone far enough. I'm OK with not having to convince people.

I've been studying this for 10 years and understand all the reasons why this can't be. I guess what I have a difficult time explaining is the evidence cannot be mathematically mistaken. The perfection in the number text relationship in scriptire goes 1000's of times beyond my examples. Go back to one simple compelling one--the middle chapter is the only two verse chapter. Also, it's cross book verse numbers point precisely to the division between the OT and NT. It might be a one in a million coincidence--but with all the other evidence you have to think real hard to dismiss this as as chance--then you have to wonder about John 3---the 1000th chapter--and so on. It's a lot to dismiss based on a human understanding that says it can't be.

Norm Patriquin said...

Here's an interesting one..I'm working with a Rabbi who also wanted to show I was incorrect...to his surprise his research revealed the exact middle word of the Tenach translated to the word "MIDST" . That didn't change his mind about my numbers.

Isa 12:6 Cry aloud and shout for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, For great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

I suspect every God designed historical book in the evolution of the Bible will contain this DNA like supernatural structure.

From the 777th chapter...
Jer 32:27 "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?"

Bill said...

So Matt provided the theological arguments against this type of numerology. I'll first make a comment about Norm's miraculous 7777 verses, and then I'll try to explain, from a mathematical viewpoint, why this type of pattern-matching is not quite so miraculous.

Norm, you give three verses whose verse "address" contains the number 7777. Then the claim is made that 7 is "God's number". Then the claim is made that each verse talks about "cleansing". While the first 2 verses (I Sam. 21:4 and Is. 6:7) do have some passing allusion to cleansing, the third really does not. It's only by really stretching the concept of cleansing that you can get anything close to that pattern in that verse. (Indeed, the actual verse that is marked as 7777, has absolutely nothing to do with cleansing; you'd have to have the verse right before it to gain any kind of foothold for your argument. And that kind of defeats the argument, doesn't it?) And what about all the other verses in the Bible that talk more clearly about cleansing? Why aren't they part of the mystical 7 pattern? Shouldn't they be?

I was first exposed to this kind of numerology in junior high, back when there was lots of speculation about extraterrestrials, the origin of the Pyramids in Egypt, the origins of the standing rocks on Easter Island, etc. A claim was made that the Pyramids were built by aliens. As part of their argument, the authors used 2 mathematical observations to support their claim.

First, they calculated and showed that the distance from the earth to the sun is an exact integral multiple of the height of the Great Pyramid. (And the actual integral value also had some special meaning, but I don't recall what it was.) Well, this argument falls flat for many reasons, not the least of which is that the distance from the earth to sun varies throughout the year as the earth is in an elliptical orbit rather than a perfect circle.

Second, the authors argued that the ratio of height to base-length has to fit a certain ratio, else the pyramid would collapse. Only alien technology could give them such an important ratio! As it turns out, it was shown that the ancient Egyptians learned about this ratio (which really does exist) by empirical experiments. There are several Pyramids that were built with an incorrect ratio, and the Pyramid did in fact collapse; their ruins can be seen today.

So why am I bringing up these examples? Because the same arguments get used all over the place in order to make mystical arguments for and against all sorts of things. The human mind tries to find patterns in everything. In fact, it's one of the things that our brains are very good at, much better than any computer that's been devised. We see patterns in clouds (just because you see the shape of a cow in a cloud doesn't mean something miraculous has happened). You can probably go on ebay and find a piece of French Toast with the image of Jesus in it. Again, not a miracle; it's just our brain wanting to find a pattern. I assert that you're finding what you're already pre-disposed to see. And in the case of the 7777 example, you're willing to bend definitions of "cleansing" in order to get a verse to fit.

If we try to use these arguments in order to convince others that there is something supernatural and extraordinary about the Bible, and then those claims are found false, wouldn't that undermine the more crucial arguments of our faith?

Norm Patriquin said...

Bill, Thanks for your sincere comment. Maybe I'm just thick headed but I don't understand how you can't see anything of interest here. Consider Isa 6 with just 13 verses--the first 9 verses numbered 17771-17779. Consider how the text in these verses specifically tell of how Isaiah is brought before God, an unclean man who God is about to prepare as a prophet, but it first must be sanctified. Once this is done, then Isaiah is called and sent to warn the people. More below...

17771--Isa 6:1 …I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted…
17772--Isa 6:2 …Seraphim stood above Him…
17773--Isa 6:3 …Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts…
17774--Isa 6:4 …the foundations of the thresholds trembled…
17775--Isa 6:5 …I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips…among people of unclean lips…
17776--Isa 6:6 …one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand…
17777--Isa 6:7 …your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven…
17778--Isa 6:8 …Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!...
17779--Isa 6:9…Go, and tell this people: (warn them of their error)'

IMPORTANT: The numbers are really not what's important about God's number pattern. What's important is that they point to a ten step plan of redemption that can be found in every list of the Bible. These verses match this redemption pattern well. In very rough form the ten steps are:

#1 Separated from God
#2 A redeemer is apppointed (Jesus)
#3 Holiness and righteousness of God (Holy Spirit)
#4 Men lost in the wilderness
#5 Statutes and Covenants we cannot meet
#6 Sin and repenting from sin to be made whole
#7 Being discipled, taught, made complete
#8 The Godly, the remnant, baptism, circumcism, obedient servants. Filled with the Holy Spirit.
#9 Persevering in service watching for Jesus return

You can map these themes to the first ten books of the Bible, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, 23rd Psalm, etc.

I respectfully ask, are you really examining the evidence or are you rejecting it before examining it? – "Prov 18:13 He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him." I understand doubts and disbelief, but to reject all the evidence I've offered without acknowledging anything as interesting seems disingenuous?
AmazingWord

Norm Patriquin said...

Bill, forgot to add...

Yes, thankfully the mind does see all sorts of patterns, some real, some imagined. It is our job to discern the difference--I spent two years studying the patterns before I dared speak of them. They are real.

Norm Patriquin said...

re ...wouldn't that undermine the more crucial arguments of our faith?

Fair question...If you've watched the media blitz against Christianity, the Bible, our faith and against Jesus--it is not difficult to imagine God kept these patterns hidden until these last days to be available as support for the truth of the Gospel. For those interested, it is compelling evidence that differentiates the Bible as the Word of God.

Also note, the patterns are not codes. They do not modify the text in any way-- they do guide it's interpretation. They are really pretty easy to see when you know what to watch for. As they become recognized by more people they will not appear be so strange and unbelievable. I try not to present them in a sensational way.

Aaron said...

Norm, I admire your passion for God and the effort you have put into illuminating the importance of His revealed self in the Bible.

However, I also have to respectfully disagree with you but for a slightly different reason. It is good to find patterns and seek understanding and wisdom related to God. All of these things should help us know Him better, live lives of greater obedience, and highlight His greatness for others to see and desire Him also.

It becomes problematic when we make the patterns our focus and our passion, rather than God Himself. Math and science can be incredible studies which should ultimately bring us back to wonder and amazement about who He is. But by focusing on the patterns and intrigue of the numbers, we actually limit God and risk missing out on discovering other aspects of His character - like His love, forgiveness, mercy, and sacrifice.

When reading Scripture, we need to seek to understand what the text says about God and who He is. When we do this, we better understand who we are and our desperate need for Him. The sacrifice of Himself on the cross for our salvation is the single greatest message the world has ever heard, and the reason so many of His followers have been killed. The Gospel should be our focus and our passion, because it's about Jesus.

Bill said...

Hi Norm.

You ask 2 questions in your last note: Am I rejecting your argument without really listening to it? And, why do I not address the content of your argument? (I hope these are good paraphrases of your questions. If not, let me know. I'll try and answer them more accurately.)

On the first question: to some degree, "yes", I am rejecting your argument without going too deep into it. I think the underlying assumptions are baseless. For many reasons, I do not think that the verse numberings are in any way miraculous. The reasons listed here by Matt are pretty well bulletproof, in my humble estimation.

On the second question: I did indeed directly address one of your assertions. The third verse used in your argument about cleansing (which was actually 2 verses from the book of Acts), says nothing about cleansing. It clearly breaks the pattern.
(Acts 24:6 might have a *passing* thought about cleansing, but that too, is a stretch.)

I think Isaiah 6 stands clearly on its own, by itself, without any help from some sort of numeralogical argument. The numerical coincidence helps me not at all in my interpretation of the text. Indeed, for me, it detracts from the plain reading of God's word. My rejection of your argument does not in any way lessen my opinion of the content of the passage. (And sometimes, I think the verse numberings themselves get in the way of our plain reading of scripture. Why the chapter breaks? Why the verse breaks? None of these were in the original.)

In His Service...
Bill Mc.

Norm Patriquin said...

Aaron...your comment >> It becomes problematic when we make the patterns our focus and our passion, rather than God Himself.

I also respect the sincerity of your message but most every message I get about the patterns I present contain zero facts and lots of opinion. I present lots of facts to back up my assertions and they are simply rejected as impossible.

I spend 20-30 hours a week in deep study of the Bible and might attribute about 10 of those hours on the patterns. God's patterns don't take away from scripture, they add to understanding it. When people begin to understand them they will find the scriptures come alive to them more than ever.

Another example of how they make the study of GOd's Word more effective is that once you understand the Bible is the verse for verse word of God you spend zero time asking yourself questions such as "I wonder why Luke said it this way and Matthew has a different version". All that goes away because you know it was written by God. There is no question the text is as God intended so if you don't understand it you don't imagine things into it but simply dig deeper into what it says. People can't understand all these benefits of the patterns and validation God added to his word until they see their validity for themselves.

I am very surprised how virtually every "scholar" that hears about these patterns flatly rejects rejects or dismisses hard evidence. The center chapter of the Bible, John 3 the 1000th chapter, the 24,000th verse and many more. I know people are being as honest as they can be. It reminds me how stubborn we are with what we believe to be true. I'm not calling people pharisees but it reminds me of how the Pharisees had all the evidence of Jesus that they needed right before their eyes but could not believe it.

I'm OK with our agreeing to disagree--I guess I keep writing messages like this to get people to think and investigate for themselves instead of asserting what they think to be true. For everyone who thinks this is impossible give the possibility a tiny chance and remember the number 22. Whenever you run across the number 22 in chapter verse or text in your normal study--watch how many times it has a pretty strong reference to Jesus or forces directly against him. If you don't see the evidence there's no harm in the effort, if you do see some hints to this maybe it will prompt you to investigate a bit more.

Norm Patriquin said...

Re Bills comment… The reasons listed here by Matt are pretty well bulletproof, in my humble estimation


Let's look at what you call bulletproof. Essentially there are no facts in Matt's email but instead are opinions and understandings most scholars hold to because of what they were taught. We do not know these things to be factually true. (nothing against Matt)

Here are the ideas I believe he presented:

#1…what he means by not altering a single letter or jot. When he said this, our current chapter and verse numbers were not in the Bible and the books were ordered differently. ((human reasoning, not facts…God wrote the NT centuries after the OT, does that mean they are not inspired. We don't really know what God meant by refering to letter or Jot but the evidence of the patterns suggests this included the numbering))


#2 Did he also inspire the notes in my study Bible? They were written by men, but those men were godly, scholarly men who prayed fervently as they wrote. ((no facts here--there is an assumption here of how scripture was inspired implying that fervently praying men write inspired text. We don't know how the inspiration happened. I believe God essentially caused the correct words to be written down without the authors actually realizing what was happening--that seems the best explanation for how such supernatural perfection could exist))

#3 Did he inspire the cross references? The Concordance? (not a useful comment)

#4 If anything that a "godly" man does with the Bible can be considered further revelation from God, then why stop at the numbers you cite? ((another assertion that has little meaning—no offence Matt but it does not add to the discussion))


#5 Orthodox Christian theology has always understood the canon of Scripture to have been closed for the past 2,000 years, and the Bible as inspired in it's original form (("...has always understood…".again, not a fact but what we believe to be true.


Maybe I've missed some of the bulletproof assumptions you refer to—let me know which ones you believe are the strongest evidence against inspiration of numbers and their patterns.

Matt Guerino said...

Hi Norm,

Respectfully, you seem to have become so convinced that these number patters mean something that you're unable to think clearly outside of them. Several very good ideas and arguments - facts, to use your preferred terminology - have been presented here against your view, and you have dealt with precisely NONE of them. Yet as I read your comment it appears that you feel you have done so. This strikes me as singular.

For one thing, you appear to have completely missed the point I made with my comments about study notes and cross references. I am illustrating how your idea about inspired verse numbers undermines the whole concept of inspiration, opening us to a slippery slope wherein anyone can claim anything was inspired. You respond by saying that's not a useful comment. ???? If you're trying to convince me to consider whether your position is true, that's not a very persuasive way to do it.

Second, several of your "facts" are verifiably wrong. For example, you wrote "We don't really know what God meant by refering to letter or Jot..." Um, yes we do. In Matthew 5:18 Jesus referred to an "iota" (that's a letter - no mystery here) and a "keraia" (the strokes that differentiate one letter from another). So Jesus is explicitly, and verifiably, talking about the letters of the Bible. No numbers anywhere. I'm not sure where you get the idea that we don't know what Jesus was referring to in Matt. 5:18, but I am quite sure that idea isn't a fact.

Further, you claim "but the evidence of the patterns suggests this included the numbering." Norm, I'll say it again: the numbers didn't exist yet, so what's the factual basis for assuming Jesus had them in mind? They wouldn't exist for centuries, so the position you appear to take is that he knew they were coming one day and so referred to them vaguely. Now I ask, who is basing their ideas on verifiable facts and who is simply throwing out unproven assertions that support his view? It is clear to me you're in the latter camp here.

And there are numerous other arguments in this thread that you have not responded to, such as Bill's point about how perceived pattern doesn't always equal meaning. To this you respond by informing us that you've studied this for hours, and then simply asserting that these patterns are in fact real. That's an assertion, not a fact. The point is, you're guilty of the very thing you're accusing the rest of us of here.

Brother, I realize you're convinced in your own mind, and your graciousness and sincerity is why I've welcomed your continuing comments. I appreciate you avoiding bombast and screed. That said, I don't think anything useful will come from continuing this conversation further. Though it wasn't your intent, you have done a remarkable job helping me make my original point; that's the value I see in this exchange. Though it doesn't appear that anyone's mind changed, this is a fantastic illustration of how many different ways the Bible may be approached - and why I firmly believe that following the Biblical flow of thought as it was recorded by the divinely-assisted authors is the way God intended it to be read.

Bill said...

Hi Norm, et. al.

Response to #1: I think Matt's statements about verse numberings and book ordering are quite factual. We can track back and find when the verse numberings were added. And we can look at ancient Hebrew Bibles and see that the book orderings are different and that they are they same as the Hebrew Bibles in print today.

Also, we *do* know exactly what a
"jot" and a "tiddle" are, to use the terms found in the KJV. They are the small markings at the top of Hebrew letters that help the reader with vowel sounds (since, at that time, there were no written vowels in the Hebrew language). Those listening to Jesus' words would know exactly what He was talking about. And we absolutely know that Jesus was not referring to verse numberings because they did not exist at Jesus' time.

I'm not sure what you mean by "human reasoning". Isn't that what we're doing here? Isn't that what you're appealing to when you point out the patterns? Are you saying that there is something inherently wrong with human reasoning?

Response to #2,#3 and #4: From my perspective, Matt's questions are exactly on point, and they do add to the discussion. If you include the additions of verse numberings as inspired by God, a rather late addition to the Bible, then why stop there? Why not add study notes? For example, I am absolutely positive I could take the study notes from the revered Scofield Bible and find a "miraculous" pattern. Does this make it Scripture? It wouldn't for me.

Response to #5: You keep saying something isn't a "fact". Just what do you mean by "fact"? We can objectively look at the development of the canon. We can point out what we do know and what we don't. If what you mean is, "We don't know when God officially closed the canon", then I guess I can agree with you. But that kind of statement means you don't really understand how the development of the canon occurred.

I offered one criticism of one of your examples; that the verses in Acts say almost nothing about cleansing. You have not responded to this. I'd like to hear how you explain this verse fits into your pattern.

And I will offer another criticism, one that will help me better understand how you think the verse numberings should be calculated.

The earliest and most reliable manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark do not include Mark 16:9-20. Do you include those verses when making your calculations? Why or why not? (The same question can also be asked about John 7:53 through 8:11.)

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