As expected, the documentary, Finding Noah, did not disappoint on the technical side. The producers are to be commended. The cinematography, the editing, and the sound, coupled with the backdrop of the scenery of the spectacular 17,000 ft. Mt Ararat made the film a pleasure to behold. One standout scene for this viewer was filmed while an intrepid climber descended into a deep crevasse into one of the glaciers on the mountain. I was struck by the depth of the descent and the exceedingly long icicles. In another scene the crew filmed a very high flowing waterfall. Such flowing water is very rare on this mountain, so it must have been a time of high melting.
The film documents several expeditions of men who were seeking to find the biblical ship of Noah which purportedly landed on this mountain. Because of its altitude, conditions for exploring can be very dangerous to say the least. A mountain of this height creates its own weather. Extreme cold, high wind, snow, hail, lightning, and whiteouts are not uncommon. The film crew not only documents these men endeavoring to carry out their mission in these life-threatening conditions while enduring the same. From firsthand experience, it?s amazing there were no causalities.
What did the makers of this film hope to accomplish? I have to be somewhat speculative, but I believe the producers wanted to raise consciousness about the historicity of the flood and Noah?s Ark. I think they wanted their audience to be overwhelmed by the evidence that the Ark has been seen in ancient history on into the 20th century, and that it makes sense to look for it. I also think they wanted the viewers to realize that there are good reasons why it still has not been found. These reasons being: the political situation, the severity of the physical conditions, the altitude of the mountain, and its enormity.
Review of the movie: Finding Noah: Witness the Journey Director and Screenwriter: Brent Baum
Producer: Matthew Marsden
Length: 97 minutes
Narrator: Gary Sinise
As with most documentaries the film proceeded with soundbites from experts in various fields and extensive interaction with the explorers themselves before, after, and as they were climbing and carrying out their tasks. All this was well and good. The highlight of the film as it turned out was the testimonies of men who saw this opportunity as a life-changing experience. To a man they testified of deep spiritual experiences from the quest, not to mention the male-bonding among the crew.
So far, we have great scenery, technical excellence, and inspirational stories, but the rest of this review raises some questions that I believe reflect negatively on the film. Let?s start with the title of the movie: Finding Noah. How in the world did they decide on this for a title? How misleading; they neither find Noah nor the Ark!
I have several beefs with the movie: I think they were negligent in how they presented the evidence of the Ark?s continued existence, the alleged eyewitness accounts, and that the Ark landed on that mountain-Mt. Ararat, and I am critical of heightening expectations and then having nothing to show for it at the end.
First, the evidence: early on in the film ancient witnesses were quickly flashed across the screen Star War style. They were Berossus, Hieronymous, Josephus, Theophilos, Epiphanius, Marco Polo, Haithon, etc. Is there a problem here? You better believe it! The majority of the above, I believe, are referring to a different mountain! Berossus, a historian, and high priest of Bel wrote in the third century BC. His account of the flood draws heavily from the pagan Babylonian account.1 He notes that the Ark landed in the country of the Kurds. This could not refer to Mt. Ararat since the Kurdish people did not take up residence there until the tenth and eleventh centuries.2 Josephus quotes him and also cites Hieronymous the Egyptian as supporting his contention that the Ark landed in the country of the Kurds. Josephus, the first century historian, mentions the Ark of Noah on four occasions.3 In three of his citations he is almost certainly referring to a mountain south of Ararat. In a fourth mention it could possibly be Ararat but the Greek is nebulous.4 Theophilos of Antioch (early second century) says the Ark landed in the Arabian mountains. The Greek word used for ?Arabian? may be indefinite and could only mean that the Ark landed on a desert mountain. Epiphanius (fourth century) wrote that the Ark landed in the country of the Kurds. Again, the Kurds did not live at Ararat until the after the 10 century. Haithon and Marco Polo did indeed refer to present-day Mt. Ararat. Both noted the black spot near the summit of the mountain which the locals regaled that it was the Ark of Noah. This black spot can still be seen today. However, the locals now refer to it as the ?eye of the bird.? It?s a volcanic rock formation.
Later in the documentary several more recent eyewitness accounts are cited. These alleged accounts have been thoroughly discounted, and it sorely questions the integrity of the producers of the film. The first was the account of the Russian pilot during WWI who claimed to see a large submerged vessel in a frozen lake. Immediately a large number of Russian soldiers undertook to climb to the spot to verify the sighting. After two weeks of hard climbing (it actually only takes 2 or 3 days) they succeeded in locating the vessel. After exploring the inside, taking photos and measurements, the information was sent to the Czar. But alas, the documents were seized by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. This story first appeared in a newsletter then published in tract form and literally read and repeated around the world. However, the story is one hundred percent fictitious. The author admitted to me by phone and letter that it was entirely made up and was never inspired by Russian immigrants who rented one of the apartments he owned.
Another story in the film was one spun by a young college student who worked in the Smithsonian museum who allegedly heard about a discovery of Noah?s Ark as he witnessed them bringing in crates of artifacts. This story again is totally bogus as the teller flunked a lie detector test and a failed a cross-examination. In the movie it was the Duckworth story.5
The most controversial story was that of Ed Davis, a soldier stationed in Iran during WWII. The most complete account of his story can be found in the book: The Painful Mountain, by Don Shockey.6 Many hours were spent reviewing the details of his account and due to numerous inconsistencies one has to seriously doubt its veracity. I personally had access to a video tape of his first debriefing which differs significantly after arkhunters put words in his mouth.6
A fourth account included was really discouraging, and forces one to conclude that the researchers simply included material for its sensational effect. It has to be obvious that they simply took these stories from one of several books and never bothered to question the stories by submitting them to some standard of credibility. I refer here to the account of the mysterious Mr.X. I happen to know his real name, and spent several hours checking the truthfulness of his tales. He was in the military during the Viet Nam War and held a highly classified position. Since he had unusually keen eyesight (according to him) his assignment was to interpret high altitude and satellite photos of enemy positions. Now many years after that, he still claims to have access to classified military satellite data even though it has been several decades after his discharge from military service! He has confided to several Ark searchers that there is an object on the mountain which is unnatural. Problem is: he has given several locations of this object! In my background check on this person I found that he also claims that with his access to this classified satellite data, he can see exactly the path the Children of Israel took out of Egypt!
That the producers of this film included these accounts seriously denigrates the integrity of their project. Once again we have an Ark film which engenders hope for a discovery that will once and for all verify the Bible story. This undoubtedly won?t be the last Ark film. The producers are keen to sense the interest out there. It was reported that the documentary opened (for one night only) in over 600 theaters. The DVD is to be released early in 2016.
I do sincerely applaud the producers for their honesty in the film that the quest was not successful. No Ark was found despite stupendous efforts. It was not a positive conclusion, but something was accomplished: we now can be fairly certain where on Mt. Ararat the Ark did not land.
(There are good ancient historical references and tradition for another location for the Ark?s final berth. For more information check the author?s website at: http://www.christianinformationministries.com/
1. For a more detailed discussion of Bersossus see my article: Five Reasons?. http://www.noah2014.com/docs/five_reasons_bill_crouse.pdf p.11ff.
2. Sargis Haroutyunian, ?Armenian Epic Tradition and Kurdish Folklore,? Iran & the Caucasus (1997): p.88.
3. http://noah2014.com/docs/geography_of_genesis_8_4_bill_crouse.pdf p.8ff.
4. The Greek simply says the Ark landed on a ?great mountain.?
5. See: Noorbergen, Rene, The Ark File (London: New English Library), 1974. See Chapter 7, and note that he uses a pseudonym for Duckworth.
6. Shockey, Don. The Painful Mountain. (Fresno, CA: Pioneer Publishing Co.), 1986
7. For our critique of the Ed Davis Story, see: http://www.christianinformationministries.com/2013/02/04/the-search-for-noahs-ark/
By: Bill Crouse
You cannot overestimate the seriousness of the Biblical Flood as described in Genesis 6 – 8. Something occurred, some behavior of mankind, which caused the Creator-God to destroy all life on the planet and start all over again. What exactly that sin was is a great mystery, but it had something to do with the mixing of seeds, and it certainly was not unequally yoked marriages between the ?sons of god? (Sethites) and the Cainites! Something happened in the angelic realm, something so serious that it affected human life as God created it (maybe even animal life). It was so serious it provoked the Creator to utterly destroy His Creation, one that He was very pleased with at the beginning. The fallen angels who precipitated this sin, according to Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, are being kept in chains until the final judgment (Jude 6). It was apparently significant for Jesus, for after his death on the cross, He descended to their place of confinement and made a proclamation of victory to these same angelic beings (I Pet. 3:19 – 20). Noah and his family were apparently not affected by this mixing and found ?favor? in the eyes of the Lord (Gen. 6:8). Noah is described as a righteous man, and in the New Testament he is listed as a great man of faith. The Apostle Peter informs us that Noah was a great preacher of righteousness (II Pet. 2:4 – 5). What we learn from the biblical account is that God, after announcing His intent to destroy the world, gives mankind a grace period of 120 years. It was during this time period that Noah was to construct an Ark while preaching on the side. Amazingly, he had nary a convert as a result of his preaching!
The Flood that God brought about on the world at that time was so catastrophic that it altered the world?s geology forever, and probably caused the land mass to breakup into the continents we now know. Today, for the most part, when we dig into the earth?s sediments we have a clear testimony of this catastrophic and tragic event. There is a bright side however; God made a covenant with Noah never to judge the world in this manner again signified by the rainbow. It is also obvious, though not explicitly stated in Scripture, that the Ark of Noah is a beautiful type of Christ in that it illustrates how today we are saved by being in Christ.
The Ark itself not only testifies of God?s grace but is also a great testimony of the utter reliability of the Scriptural account of the Flood. How? Ancient Mesopotamian flood stories have interesting parallels to the biblical account indicating there was a collective memory in the mind of ancient men of this tragic event. But there is one problem: several of these extra-biblical accounts (Atrahasis, and Gilgamesh) describe an ark that is either a cube or one that is circular (a coracle). Neither would be seaworthy in the kind of flood the bible describes. On the other hand, the physical dimensions of the Ark as described in the bible are the maximum ratios (30 length, 3 height 5 width), you would need to ride out a storm involving great tidal waves and earth upheaval. Tell me how can this be? If the biblical story of the Noah had a mythological origin, how would Moses have known this? It?s not an option to not answer the question! It can?t be an accident that the writer of Genesis knew (or was told) how to build a boat that would have the maximum stability in violent seas! This was no river flood. If it were just a river flood, why would you need an ark 475 feet long with a capacity of over 500 railroad cars? Or, why would you need an ark at all? Why not just have the animals and man migrate to higher ground? Yes, you need to answer the question. Now, some, calling themselves Evangelicals, are assigning the flood story to some level of myth status. Oh really! You mean you can pick and choose which is true history? Well then, what about the Resurrection? Is that myth, too? That?s pretty hard to believe as well!
Now Hollywood is fully aware of the popularity and interest in the story of Noah?s Ark. Throughout the year for the last several decades a plethora of stories about the discovery of Noah?s Ark have appeared in the tabloids. It seems it is discovered every summer! This is not to mention the many documentaries on the subject on the cable channels (and sometimes the major networks) all of which must make money or they would not continue to make them. They also know that the first biblical story the child of a Christian family is exposed to in Sunday School, is the story of Noah, the ark and the animals. So, why not take this great dramatic tale and make it into a movie? I applaud the move. However, knowing the animosity Hollywood has toward anything Christian I would be amiss by not having my doubts about how they would treat such a film.
Months ago, before the release of the film, Noah, (3/28/2014), I started collecting reviews by people (mostly Christian leaders) who were shown various versions of the movie. Hollywood wanted to appear to be open minded about suggestions for how to treat this biblical drama. Most of the reviews were mixed in their appraisal. Hollywood, i.e., Paramount Studies, sensing it would be controversial, made frequent use of focus groups, along with much polling and consulting with these same influential Christian leaders. After all, much is at stake when you have a $130 million budget movie. This does not include another $50 – 60 million spent to promote it!
So, uncharacteristic of me, I was there to view the movie on opening night. I was certainly prepared after reading through a three-inch thick file of reviews. One thing is obvious, this movie sets a record for the number of reviews, and they are still coming. I hope you can endure one more.
The movie was about what I expected. The story line only vaguely resembled the biblical account: there was a flood, and a family was saved by entering an ark. What Hollywood loves to do, especially with biblical stories, is to empty them of biblical values and replace them with their own materialist, pagan, and or, new age values. This movie was a prime example. Aronofsky long ago saw the possibilities of the Noah story as vehicle for his own environmental and Gaia religion. This movie is not about a catastrophic judgment brought about by God because of man?s sin (as described above) but because man is destroying the environment. Noah was chosen to build an ark primarily to save the animals because the Creator saw that he cared and would get the job done. Mankind, according to Noah in the movie, and according to the movie?s creator, is a virus that is destroying what was once a pristine planet. Aronofsky says his movie portends another flood that is coming if we do not stop global warming (New Yorker, May 17, 2014, p48).
In the movie, Noah is not a preacher of righteousness who is untainted by the wickedness of the antediluvian world, but rather a vegetarian and the world?s first environmentalist who is desirous of all human life being destroyed including his own family. He consents to building an ark when he receives some sort of a revelation via a dream from ?the Creator.? The main purpose of the ark is to deliver the animals and not save man (Earth First!). Well, this is what I would have expected from Aronofsky who was asked about his belief in God and his worldview. This is how he replied: ?The Big Bang happened, and all this star material turned into stars, and stars turned into planets, and planets turned into life. We?re all just borrowing this matter and energy for a little bit, while we?re here, until it goes back into everything else, and that connects us all.? He went on to say: ?The messed up thing is how distracted we are and disconnected from that connection, and the result of it is what we?re doing to this planet and to ourselves…What are we doing to ourselves? It?s a complete disconnect. To me, that where the spirituality is. Whatever you want to call that connection?some people would use that term God. That to me, is what I think is holy.? (From The Christian Post).
So, in the movie, many elements of the original biblical story are turned on its head. The Nephilim, i.e., the rock monsters, turn out to be good in that they help Noah build the Ark and defend it from the Cainites (the meat eaters). In another major divergence, Noah did not want any child-bearing women to be on the ark. The wife of Shem was a young girl (Ilya) adopted by Noah?s family as a child, and as a result of previous abuse, she is barren. Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, heals her, however. The latter is depicted as a Shamanistic hermit living in a cave who seems a quart low on the dipstick! When Shem?s wife gets pregnant Noah vows to kill the baby if it happens to be a girl. Later on the ark she gives birth to twin girls. Noah immediately moves to kill them, but upon looking at their faces he finds he cannot do it. He then apologizes to the creator and tells him he just couldn?t do it. You are left with the impression that he did not carry out the Creator?s wish.
Now all art is somewhat subversive. Your original attention is supposed to be attracted to the beauty and the creativity of the work. However, the artist, who has a worldview, makes all art biographical. He wants to, and works hard to get his message across in a latent rather than a blatant manner. Aronofsky?s movie is certainly no exception; his environmental religion is not so latent, however, but there are other elements that you may only pick up after multiple viewing. The Shamanism, as mentioned above, magic, occultism, and the Jewish mysticism (The Kabbalah) are ever so subtle. The snakeskin even seems, dare I say, Luciferian!
Do I believe a movie maker artist should have creative license? Of course! We know very little about Noah?s character and the other characters in the biblical account. What Aronofsky does however, is far more than license. He himself said: This is the least biblical film ever made. I?m sorry, but I?m not overly impressed with Aronofsky?s end product. For me, the film is not a biblical epic at all; it fits more into the category of a disaster film with elements of a cartoon (the rock beings) and a horror flick. Hollywood has come a long way in developing its art form. I refer to the quality of the acting and technical aspects. In this film, you never really latch on to any of the characters. Russell Crowe, as Noah, has a good reputation (Academy Award) for his art. Here, however, he seems uncomfortable in his role. I found his dialog at times hard to discern; his voice seemed raspy and indistinct. The reviews I read (several dozen), for the most part, raved about the special effects. I?m not one of them. These computer generated scenarios are fake and they looked that way (the ball of snakes, etc.). It would be interesting to know exactly what percentage of the movie was computer generated.
All in all, I can?t give this movie a very high grade. Seeing it once is enough. This isn?t true if a movie is a great work of art, and it is not one you would want your children to see. Ironically, it is a preachy movie. No one caterwauls more than Hollywood when some Christian organization (Sherwood Baptist Church, Watermark, etc.) makes a film with a message. For me this is a message movie: ?If we take care of planet earth, perhaps we will be spared future destruction.? Noah says as much in the movie: ?If we work to save it, maybe He will save us.? (Not exact wording).
From the several dozen reviews I’ve read, here are several that I thought were quite provocative. Also, note that some of those listed below have written multiple reviews. And for more insight into the mind of Darren Aronofsky, I recommend the article ?Heavy Weather,? from the March 17, 2014 issue of The New Yorker.
Click the links below to read their reviews.
Mark Zoller Seitz
In 1959 a pilot in the Turkish Air Force on a NATO-mapping-mission in the mountainous terrain of eastern Turkey photographed an unusual ship-shaped object near Mt. Ararat.?Later when these aerial photographs were viewed stereoscopically by Captain Ilhan Durupinar, he noticed that the?object looked even more like a ship.
But what was a ship doing in those rugged mountains?
After examining the stereo photos, photogrammetry expert, Dr. Arthur Brandenberger of Ohio State, declared that the object was entirely foreign to the area, and if the object proved to be a ship someone had better explain how it got?there.
Photographs of the strange formation appeared in the world press and created a sensation.
To read the entire article, download the pdf here.
The Unsolved Mystery of Noah’s Ark. By Mary Irwin. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, 2012, xv+117pp., $11.95 paper.
Reviewed by Gordon Franz and Bill Crouse
Mary Irwin, the wife of the late moon-walking astronaut, Jim Irwin, has written a book about their adventures on Mount Ararat and the search for Noah?s Ark. This book was prompted by a deceptive National Geographic special on Noah?s Ark in May 2009.
In the Foreward, Bob Cornuke, another Ark hunter, laments that he has been searching for Noah?s Ark for 25 years and has never seen the old boat, and then asks: but has anyone ever seen the remains of Noah?s Ark? (page xi). We are pleased to report that over the millennia, literally thousands, upon thousands of people, including an Assyrian king, have made pilgrimages to Noah?s Ark and seen it, brought back wood from it as souvenirs or as objects of worship. We were surprised that Mary Irwin did not cite our definitive and compelling article on the true location for the landing of Noah?s Ark on Cudi Dagh in southeastern Turkey. It was published in Bible and Spade (Fall 2006; Vol. 10, no. 4, pages 99 – 113).
Early in the book Irwin writes about her first trip to the famed mountain, known by the Turks as Agri Dagh, with her husband in the early 80?s, an account that will bring back many memories to the various teams of climbers that had high hopes of finding Noah?s Ark. She then begins what is the best part of the book where she debunks several of the more notorious claims about the whereabouts of the Ark. Here she demonstrates evidence of pretty good detective work as far as she goes. Those making the remarkable claims which she exposes are: Ferdinand Navarra, George Green, George Hagopian, and Ron Wyatt. We commend her for her efforts to set the record straight.
In the Part two, she sets about to examine the off-probed story of the late Ed Davis from Albuquerque, NM. This is the story of a WWII soldier stationed in Hamadan, Iran, who claimed he had a close encounter, both with Noah?s Ark and the Garden of Eden. We wish that she had applied her skill evidenced earlier in the book to this sensational claim.
We agree with Mary Irwin?s assessment in the first half of the book (pages 1 – 49) that there are no credible sightings of Noah?s Ark on Agri Dagh, the traditional Mount Ararat. However, her case in the second half of the book for Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran, based on the Ed Davis testimony strains credulity. This idea was first espoused by Robert Cornuke, and is weak and unconvincing. First of all, the biblically designated mountains of Ararat do not extend anywhere near this mountain in Eastern Iran. It has no tradition whatsoever, and one must have quite the imagination to even consider that the claimed rock formation was once the mighty ship of Noah (here are the co-ordinates: 36 degrees, 24?14.18N; 50 degrees, 58?27.43E). Thorough refutations of Bob Cornuke?s ideas and articles are up on these sites here and here. Mr. Cornuke has never responded to these articles and Mary Irwin apparently did not interact with the material in our critiques, so repeated the errors pointed out in the articles.
In the book, Irwin contends that Ed Davis passed several lie detector tests (page 53) and one was ?grueling? (page 54). The facts are not exactly as stated. Ed Davis, in one lie detector test of which we are aware, done on May 1,1988 for Bob Cornuke and High Flight Foundation (Jim Irwin?s organization), by P. G. P. Polygraph, was asked six softball questions, and on the final question was answered by Davis in the negative, but showed stress on the polygraph test. Apparently, he had talked with others, or read books, about the ark. The author should have been aware of the results of this polygraph test because her husband was still in charge of the High Flight Foundation and the letter should have been in her ?Ararat? file. If other tests were administered, it sure would strengthen her case if these results would have been documented in the book.
Two old maps are presented in the book in an attempt to bolster the case for the landing site of the ark in Iran (pages 95 and 99). However, neither map supports the case for Mount Suleiman being the landing site of the ark.
The first map is found on page 95. It is labeled Ancient Map of the Middle East, by Jewish Historian Petras Plantius. This map is primitive, and in some cases highly inaccurate. A careful examination of the map will show that the mountains labeled Ararat mons are the Gordyan Mountains in southeastern Turkey and not Iran. Just below the Ararat mons are the cities of Nineve, Mosul, and Arbela, all cities in northern Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq), and not Iran. The range of mountains to the right of Ararat mons, running in a north-south direction, is the Zagros Mountains, even though they are mislabeled Caspy (?) montes (Caspian Mountains). One can tell they are the Zagros Mountains by the location of Elam and Susa at the southern end of the mountain range. These locations are to the southeast of the Zagros Mountains. On this map, the Ararat Mons is in Turkey, not Iran. This map would be better used for the case of Cudi Dagh, as the true landing site of Noah?s Ark!
The second map is found on page 99. It is identified in the book as a Terrestrial Paradise, circa 1722 showing Noah?s Ark below the Caspian Sea on the Summit of Mont Ararat. This map is Pierre Daniel Huet?s conception from Calmet?s Dictionnaire historique de la Bible (1722). With this map she is trying to demonstrate that the landing site for Noah?s Ark is below (or near) the Caspian Sea, just as Mount Suleiman, near Tehran, is near the Caspian Sea. This is very misleading. The map is not to scale and is an idealized map. Fortunately, one can locate where this mountain is by a careful examination of the map. Just below the mountain is a city named Ecbatana. The ancient city of Ecbatana is buried underneath the modern Iranian city of Hamadan.
Ecbatana is mentioned once in the Bible in Ezra 6:2 (see the margin of any good study Bible) as the capital of the province of Media. It is also possible that it was one of the ?cities of the Medes to which Israelite captives were exiled to by the Assyrians after the fall of Samaria (2 Kings 17:6). Interestingly, the mapmaker places Mount Ararat in the Land of Media and not in Armenia. This should have raised red flags because this is contrary to our Biblical compass. The ancient Biblical and historical sources clearly show that Mt. Suleiman, north of Tehran, was deep inside the land of Media and far outside the land of Ararat / Urartu where the Ark landed.
The mapmaker was trying to convey that the Ark landed on a mountain near Ecbatana, but not, on Mount Suleiman some 250 km to the northeast of Hamadan. There are Luristan traditions that Noah?s Ark landed in the area of Hamadan. Major Rawlinson, a British Army officer, visited the area in 1836 and mentions the tradition of the landing on a very lofty range, (co-ordinates: 34 degrees, 02?02.39N; 47 degrees, 37?01.85E) called Sar Kasti on page 100 in his article in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 9 (1839) 26 – 116. It was to this mountain that Cornuke made his first solo trip and the first of three claims that the Ark came to rest inside Iran. See: Cornuke and Halbrook, The Lost Mountains of Noah: The Discovery of the Real Mtns of Ararat, (2001) pages 88 – 95.
We were both a little amused that she advocated the Karola Kautz?s theory that the Mount of Salvation (Mount Nisir) was the landing place of the Babylonian ark! Kautz is advocating the Babylonian account of Mount Nisir which is what Irwin was upset about when she watched the National Geographic program on Noah?s Ark (pages 1 and 2)!!!!!
In Chapter Ten Irwin borrows another argument from Cornuke she believes indicates that the ark landed in Eastern Iran. Genesis 11:1 – 2 says: And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there (KJV). The argument goes like this: If you translate the Hebrew miqqedem mdqm as: from the east, as the KJV does, it would clearly seem to indicate that the Ark must have landed somewhere to the east of historic Shinar (Mesopotamia), in modern-day Iran since it is that country that is directly east of Shinar. However, if you translate the miqqedem as eastward, as the NIV does, then you have the migration coming from the west toward Shinar. Elsewhere the miqqedem is translated in the east (NEB), that is: men moved in the east, then, the directional point is much more indefinite.
Given that this migration occurred several hundred years after the disembarking from the Ark from the previous context of chapter 10, it seems best not to push this passage too much. If you believe the Ark landed in northern Iran, or northeast Turkey, it would have certainly been more accurate for the writer to say they migrated from the north. Neither the Elburz Mountains, nor Mount Ararat is directly east of Shinar. The Biblical mountains of Ararat (Urartu) are directly north of the plain of Shinar.
The apparent conflict between Genesis 8:4 and 11:2 is more easily resolved with a more indefinite interpretation in our opinion. It should also be pointed out that that there is least a 100 – 300 year period between the landing of the Ark after the Flood (Gen. 8), and the Tower of Babel event (Gen. 11). The peoples could have easily moved from where the Ark landed to other locations east or west of Shinar [Babylonia] before the Tower of Babel story took place.
Finally we would caution the author about advocating the Mount Sulieman discovery based on unpublished reports of petrified wood with marine fossils; etc (pages 105 – 109). Mary Irwin stated: Until someone comes home from an expedition, with authentic photographs or a large chunk of the ark?s remains verified by authentic scientists who have looked at the samples through an electron microscope and have carbon dated the piece, I shall continue to be suspect of anymore ?eye-witness? accounts ? Cornuke?s team, who originally made these claims in 2006 has never produced any of the above for peer review. It?s been more than six years! If the answer is negative, that should be published also, so people do not go around writing books and giving lectures that they found Noah?s Ark on Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran!
Page 43. 1st line. Wyatt was not a psychiatric nurse, but rather a nurse anesthetist.
Page 43. 2nd to the last line. The tunnel was in the Garden Tomb area, not the Garden of Gethsemane
Page 69. 3rd line. Josephus is the 2nd half of the 1st century AD, not the beginning of the 4th century AD.
Page 74. The quote attributed to Ashur-nasipal was not made by him and not cited as a quote by Olmstead.
Page 78. The Harmonics footnote does not appear in the bibliography.
Page 113. The date for the Olmstead article is 1918, not 1998. The information cited is on page 231.
(2008 Video Tape produced by the BASE Institute of Colorado Springs, CO. $14.95.)
A review and critique by Gordon Franz, Bill Crouse, and Rex Geissler
December 12, 2008
Adventurer Robert Cornuke has produced a new video which claims that remnants of Noah?s Ark have been found in the Elburz Mountains about 54 miles from Tehran, the capital of Iran.
Cornuke is founder and CEO of the Bible Archaeology, Search and Exploration (BASE) Institute of Colorado Springs, Colorado. In 2005 and 2006, Cornuke and select volunteers, visited Mount Suleiman in the Elburz Mountains looking for an object they suspected might be the remains of Noah?s Ark. Prior to his claims about Mount Suleiman he was convinced that the Ark had landed on Mount Sabalan in Iran (Cornuke and Halbrook 2001). After his third trip to Iran in 2006 he posted articles on his website detailing the reasons why he thought Noah?s Ark might have landed on Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran in Iran (some have since been taken down). Cornuke?s claims have been examined and reviews have been posted on the web, and by multiple authors. At the end of the reviews Cornuke was challenged to publish his findings from Mount Suleiman in a scientific peer-reviewed publication but none have been forthcoming.
Cornuke, while couching his claims in careful language, maintains that he has discovered the true Mount Sinai, the actual anchors from St. Paul?s shipwreck, the location of the Ark of the Covenant, and now Noah?s Ark in Iran (2005). Now this material is available in a high quality new video, the subject of this review. Since evidence and claims are being made in this video which we believe do not establish the case that Noah?s Ark has been found, or that it could have landed in Iran. However, due to its excellent production quality, we are concerned once again that its sensational claims will mislead the Christian public.
Genesis 8:4 and the Mountains of Ararat
The video begins by arguing that Genesis 8:4 does not specifically state that the Ark of Noah landed on modern Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey. That this Scripture only gives us a general location of the Ark?s final berth is one of the few points in the video with which we agree.
Main Premise of the Video
The main premise of the video, as stated on the back cover of the video box, is that: ?Based on the testimony of the Bible, personal investigation, examination of evidence, and other factors, Cornuke points to Mount Suleiman in the modern-day country of Iran, as the most probable resting place for Noah?s Ark.? This premise, however, collapses on Biblical grounds and other known facts.
Cornuke bases his conclusion on five main assumptions:
- The veracity of the Ed Davis testimony as to the location of the Ark
- The region (country) of Ararat (Urartu) extended into the central Elburz mountain range in Iran
- An interpretation of Genesis 11:2 would mean that the Ark landed in Iran, east of Shinar (modern-day, south central Iraq)
- Other ancient sources, for example Josephus, might extend the Land of Ararat eastward into Iran
- The rock outcrop they found on Suleiman is the Ed Davis object, is petrified wood, and by implication, the remains of Noah?s Ark
Let?s look briefly at each of these assumptions.
The Ed Davis Testimony
First, the main reason Cornuke began his quest to find Noah?s Ark in Iran, is based on the testimony of a World War II soldier who claims he was shown the Ark in 1943. In fact, we would be so bold as to say that without this testimony we sincerely doubt that Cornuke would have ever traveled to Iran. The soldier in question, the late Ed Davis of New Mexico, claimed that while stationed in Iran with the Army Corps of Engineers he was shown the sites of the Garden of Eden and Noah?s Ark (Shockey 1986). Ark researchers, including the authors, have spent many hours analyzing this testimony (Crouse 1988; 1989; 1993).
The story Davis tells is riddled with contradictions and puzzling problems. For example, in his earliest testimony he indicated he was stationed in Hamadan, Iran, (Persia at that time) and because of a favor he did for his friends, they took him to the Garden of Eden and Noah?s Ark. In the very first recording of his testimony he noted that his native friends were Lurs or Lourds, a predominant ethic group in western Iran (Luristan) near the Zagros Mountains. However, zealous Ark researchers corrected him that they were Kurds since they are the major ethnic group in the villages at the base of Mount Ararat. Hence from then on Davis calls them Kurds.
In subsequent debriefings, Ed noted other details such as the fact that he and his friends went through the town of Qazvin on their way to the mountain, and that he could see the lights of Tehran from the Ark?s site. It was these two facts that led former detective Cornuke to conclude that Ed must have been somewhere in the Elburz Mountains north of Tehran. Cornuke and remote-sensing (satellite data) expert Ed Holroyd then began looking at satellite data of the Elburz Mountains to find a configuration of canyons that matched Ed?s detailed description. They concluded that just such a formation existed on Mount Suleiman. In 2005 Cornuke made his way to Mount Suleiman and found a large black rock extrusion he came to believe was what Davis was shown.
What we find interesting is that while Cornuke believes he has found the Ed Davis object he does not tell his viewers the whole story. Davis also declared that the Ark was broken into two pieces and that you could see compartments inside. Because of the hollow nature of the Ark, he claimed that his friends had shown him artifacts that fell out of the broken Ark including lentils, beans, honey, hay, feathers, nuts, dried fish, oil lamps, tools, clay vats, petrified shepherd staffs and petrified woven twig doors! Davis and his guides viewed this ?Ark? object from the edge of a cliff and were planning to use ropes to get down to it the next day. None of this description is shared in the documentary, nor does it square with the object shown in the video. There is no cliff and no ?compartments? and no artifacts shown at this rock outcropping in the video.
Most Ark researchers, however, do believe Ed Davis did have some kind of experience; his friends probably did show him something as he noted in the flyleaf of his Bible. Interestingly enough, according to Lur tradition (and Ed Davis? friends were Lourds) both the Garden of Eden and the final resting place of the Ark are in the region of Luristan. According to Major Henry Rawlinson, the Lur tradition puts the Ark?s final resting place on a mountain called Sar Kashti, a mountain in the Zagros mountain range of Western Iran about a day?s drive from Hamadan (1839: 100).
The Boundaries of Ararat/Urartu
The second major problem with the Cornuke thesis is that there is no evidence yet discovered that indicates the region of Urartu/Ararat ever extended as far north and east into Iran as he claims. In fact, in the video, Cornuke?s map doesn?t even cover the ancient capital of Ararat/Urartu on Lake Van! This is a grievous error. What is at stake here is the inerrancy of Scripture. As far as these authors are aware, no Urartian scholar would put the Kingdom of Urartu as far to the east as Cornuke claims even at the height of its empire in the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. At the most, it extended only a few miles south and east of Lake Urmia. Most scholars are in agreement that when the author of Genesis referred to the mountainous region of Ararat in Gen. 8:4, he was making reference to the region directly north of Mesopotamia, centered around Lake Van (Zimansky 1998: 2). The tribes and regional kings of Ararat (Urartu) are first mentioned in Assyrian literature in the 13th century B.C. meaning it could easily have been in existence and known by Moses (Zimansky 1998: 6).
The Urartu archaeological map) is extended with more labels from noted Urartian archaeologist Boris Piotrovsky, who was Director of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and directed the Urartian excavations at Karmir-Blour, one of the greatest fortresses of Urartu (1969: back cover). In order to accurately demonstrate how different is Bob Cornuke?s map of Urartu shown in the video), the Piotrovsky map of Urartu had to be completely re-drawn (outlined in blue) in order to add entire areas of landmass to take into account Cornuke?s view of Urartu (outlined in red and adapted from the locations shown on the video into a new map). Cornuke literally leaves out 36,500 square miles of the accepted archaeologists? view of Urartu. In addition, it should be noted that Cornuke adds about 28,000 square miles of geographical area to his map of Urartu with no archaeological support whatsoever, allowing his map to include some of the northern and central Elburz Mountains close to Mount Suleiman.
The presumed Ed Davis landing site on Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran, is far outside the land of Ararat/Urartu (at least 250 miles as the dove flies from Urartu to Mount Suleiman), and deep inside the Land of Madaia of the Medes! This is a very crucial point to Cornuke?s claims. Is Mount Suleiman, northwest of Tehran, in the Biblical land of Ararat/Urartu or not? The BASE Institutes case stands or falls on this question. Cornuke gives a vague, non-factual answer to this question when he states:
When people talk about the boundaries of Urartu — which is the Assyrian designation, Armenia, [the] more modern designation — They can?t be precise. There is not a boundary that you can draw a line around. It expanded and contracted up to a thousand [1,000] miles based on war, or famine, or some kind of drought, very mercurial in the boundaries. So we can say it?s just right in that area of Turkey, the area of Iran, the area maybe of Azerbaijan. It?s just right in that area of the world; we just can?t be precise where in the area when we are talking about Iran. It?s right where the Bible indicates it should be [12 min.:30 sec.-13 min.:08 sec. into the video].
However, in the video, a speculative map of Ararat/Urartu graphic is shown that includes Mount Sabalan and comes close to Mount Suleiman. Cornuke knows he must have the Land of Ararat/Urartu extend all the way over to the Elburz mountain range in order to give his discovery any kind of credibility. It is our judgment that this graphic is very inaccurate and, in our opinion, deceptive. As noted earlier, this map does not even include the known historical capital and cultural center of Ararat/Urartu at Lake Van, nor does it include the Gordyene Mountains south of Van, the large Urartean site of Hakkari, nor any of Turkey or the traditional Hurrian highlands extending west to Erzincan. However, it does conveniently extend south to the central Elburz Mountains and the edge of Mount Suleiman where not one piece of evidence for Urartian presence has ever been found.
Here is a brief summary of the region of Ararat/Urartu by noted expert Paul E. Zimansky and notice that none of the landmark?s he mentions are deep within Iran. He states:
Urartian kings would have ruled all of the agricultural lands around Lake Van and Lake Sevan, and the southwestern shore of Lake Urumiyeh. The upper Aras, particularly the Armavir and Erevan areas, was firmly in their hands, and conquest took them as far north as Lake Cildir. Along the Murat, evidence for royal control is surprisingly meager, but sufficient to put the Euphrates at Izoli within the conquered zone and the Elazig area in the narrower sphere. Campaign inscriptions are found well to the east of Tabriz, but the nearest evidence for firm state control in that direction comes from Bastam, thirty-eight kilometers north of Khvoy. Missing from this picture are the large and fertile plains of Erzurum and Erzincan on the Karasu, the northwest shore of Lake Urumiyeh, the plain of Marand, and the middle Aras from Jolfa to the slopes of Mount Ararat. All of these are generally assumed to be part of Urartu in some sense, and it is worth examining other forms of evidence to see if there might be some grounds for including them within the perimeter of state control (1985: 10).
Zimansky does not include the Elburz Mountains in the area of Urartu. Thus, it is NOT, as Mr. Cornuke claims, right where the Bible indicates it should be!
Genesis 11:1, 2, From the East
There is a third reason why we believe that Cornuke is wrong. The Genesis 11:1 and 2 passage is too weak an argument to use as a place reference. The passage states: ?And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there? (KJV). The argument goes like this: If you translate the Hebrew miqqedem mdqm as: from the east, as the KJV does, it would clearly seem to indicate that the Ark must have landed somewhere to the east of historic Shinar (Mesopotamia), in modern-day Iran since it is that country that is directly east of Shinar. However, if you translate the miqqedem as eastward, as the NIV does, then you have the migration coming from the west toward Shinar. Elsewhere the miqqedem is translated in the east (NEB), that is: men moved in the east, then, the directional point is much more indefinite.
Given that this migration occurred several hundred years after the disembarking from the Ark from the previous context of chapter 10, it seems best not to push this passage too much. Wenham favors in the east when the miqqedem is used adverbially as in 2:8; 12:8; and Isa. 9:12 (1991: 238). In addition, Mathews believes miqqedem marks events of separation, so it can also have a metaphorical sense (1996:1:478). If you do select the more specific, directional interpretation as Cornuke does (as in the KJV), and you believe the Ark landed in northern Iran, or northeast Turkey, it would have certainly been more accurate for the writer to say they migrated from the north. Neither the Elburz Mountains, nor Mount Ararat is directly east of Shinar. The Biblical mountains of Ararat (Urartu) are directly north of the plain of Shinar.
The apparent conflict between 8:4 and 11:2 is more easily resolved with a more indefinite interpretation in our opinion. It should also be pointed out that that there is least a 100 – 300 year period between the landing of the Ark after the Flood (Gen. 8), and the Tower of Babel event (Gen. 11). The peoples could have easily moved from where the Ark landed to other locations east or west of Shinar [Babylonia] before the Tower of Babel story took place.
The Ancient Sources
Fourth, one of Cornuke?s experts in the video, Frank Turek, briefly discusses the ancient sources. Unfortunately the editing in the video is bad at this point. Only the last part of a longer statement about Josephus and Nicolas of Damascus is given that seems to suggest that Ararat/Urartu extended further east than previously thought.
Let?s examine one passage in Josephus. In Antiquities of the Jews 20:24, 25 (LCL 10:15), Josephus recounts the story of Monobazus, the king of Adiabene and the husband of Queen Helena, who wanted to see his son Izates before he died. The capital of Adiabene was Arbela in northern Mesopotamia (present day Iraq). When Monobazus saw his son, he gave Izates the district of Carron. The land of Carron is described as a place with ?excellent soil for the production of amomum in the greatest abundance; it also possesses the remains of the ark in which report has it that Noah was saved from the flood, remains which to this day are shown to those who are curious to see them.? The land of Carron must be in the mountains just to the north of Mesopotamia. These mountains would be in present day southeastern Turkey, but they were never considered to be part of what is now present day Iran!
The fifth line of argument may be the weakest of all. In the video there are claims that the rock that was brought back from Mount Suleiman was petrified wood and that it contained animal hairs of various kinds, bird follicles, savannah grass, seeds, insects, and other such things. This material should have been published first in a scientific peer-reviewed publication, either archaeological or geological, so that the scholarly community could see the documented evidence and analyze it. The reviewers seriously doubt that this rock outcrop is anything but a solidified volcanic lava extrusion. This can look exactly like petrified wood in the way it fractures and can even have cellular structures when seen under a microscope. The viewer should be very careful about taking this evidence at face value until further documentation is available. For a discussion of the geology of Mount Suleiman, see: Gansser and Huber 1962: 583 – 630.
On the sleeve of the video case it states that this video is a Dove Family Approved documentary. It is our opinion that this should not have been approved because the video, in our opinion, does not accurately present the facts as recognized by experts in the field, i.e., the map with the supposed boundaries of Urartu. In addition, it is factually inaccurate and based on a questionable eye-witness. Also, in the credits at the end of the video one of the authors of this article (Bill Crouse) is listed as an advisor. This was not authorized and he in no way wishes it to be seen as an endorsement of the material.
We have also noted how carefully at times statements are worded in the video. On the cover of the video box and the beginning of the video, they build up the fact that they are looking for Noah?s Ark. By the end of the video, they don?t claim they found Noah?s Ark, but rather the Ed Davis object. One wonders if this is a very clever change in case somebody challenges the content of the video. Our opinion is that they have found neither.
We would caution those who read this: If you are considering forwarding this review to another Christian who is enthused about this so-called discovery, as well as others from the BASE Institute, we pray that you do it with a sensitive and kind spirit. It might be good to preface the review with a question: Have you considered, or would you be interested in reading a different perspective about these discoveries?
In this review we want it to be perfectly clear that in no way is this review intended as a personal affront, either about Bob Cornuke, or anyone who appears in the video. Our sole concern, at this point, is to review the information and make informed comments. If it was the motive of the producers to instill confidence among believers that the Bible is true this in our opinion sets a poor precedent, and could have the opposite result. Even worse, it may be a poor testimony to unbelievers.
Corbin, B. J.
1999 The Explorers of Ararat: And the Search for Noah?s Ark. 2nd ed. Highland Ranch, CO: Great Commission Illustrated Books.
2005 Ark Fever. The True Story of One Man?s Search for Noah?s Ark. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.
Cornuke, Robert; and Halbrook, David
2001 In Search of the Lost Mountains of Noah. The Discovery of the REAL Mountains of Ararat. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.
1988 Is the Ark in the Ahora Gorge? Ararat Report #14 (Jan.-Feb.).
1989 The Ed Davis Testimony: An Addendum. Ararat Report #20 (Jan.-Feb.).
1993 Modern Eyewitnesses: Are They Reliable? Ararat Report #32 (May).
Crouse, Bill; and Franz, Gordon
2006 Mount Cudi ? True mountain of Noah?s Ark. Bible and Spade 19/4: 99 – 113. http://www.biblearchaeology.org/publications/BAS19_4.pdf
Gansser, Augusto; and Huber, Heinrich
1962 Geological Observations in the Central Elburz, Iran. Schweizerische Mineralogische und Petrographische Mitteilungen 42: 583 – 630.
Geissler, Rex; Basaran, Cevat; and Keles, Vedat
2006 Mount Ararat Archaeological Survey. Bible and Spade 21/3: 70 – 96.
1965 Antiquities of the Jews. Book 20. Vol. 10. Trans. by L. H. Feldman. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Loeb Classical Library 456. Reprinted 1981.
1996 Genesis. Vol. 1. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman.
Piotrovsky, Boris B.
1969 The Ancient Civilization of Urartu: An Archaeological Adventure. Trans. by James Hogarth, from Russian. New York: Cowles Book.
Rawlinson, Major Henry
1839 Notes on a March from Zohab, at the Foot of Zagros, along the Mountains to Khuzistan (Susiana), and from Thence Through the Province of Luristan to Kirmanshah, in the Year 1836. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 9: 26 – 116.
1986 The Painful Mountain. Fresno, CA: Pioneer.
1991 Word Biblical Commentary. Genesis 1 – 15. Vol. 1. Milton Keynes, England: Word (UK).
1985 Ecology and Empire: The Structure of Urartian State, Chicago: University of Chicago.
1998 Ancient Ararat: A Handbook of Urartian Studies. Delmar, NY: Caravan Books.
About the authors:
Gordon Franz is Bible teacher, and an archaeologist on the staff of the Associates for Biblical Research http://www.biblearchaeology.org, http://lifeandland.org
Bill Crouse is a researcher and president of Christian Information Ministries
Christian Information Ministries | Defending Historic Christian Faith in a Postmodern World
Rex Geissler is a computer specialist, publisher, Ark researcher, and the president of Archaeological Imaging Research Consortium (ArcImaging) http://www.arcimaging.org
The Bible Code. By Michael Drosnin. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. The Signature of God. By: Grant R. Jeffrey. Ontario, Canada: Frontier Research Publications, 1996. Cracking the Bible Code. By: Jeffrey Satinover. NewYork: William & Morrow, 1997.
Reviewed by Bill Crouse
Tea leaves, stars, the entrails of sheep, and crystal balls have all been used as mediums for divining the?future. One would hardly imagine that the Bible could be construed in such a way, but it has! One would have to presume that such a deception must be beyond Satan’s wildest dreams. Think about it! Misdirecting men’s thoughts from the clear word of God to words divined from Scripture – people studying the Bible not for its ordinary surface meaning, but it’s secret and hidden messages! Might I be so bold to suggest that such a procedure borders on blasphemy. All types of divination are strictly forbidden in Scripture (Deut. 18:10). This new-fangled approach to divining messages from “behind,” “around” and “under” the words of Scripture is not new. It goes back at least to the 12th Century in Germany when Hasidic Jews began to attribute mystical qualities to Scripture and to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Today this occult practice is known as Cabalism. It arose out of pagan Greek philosophy (Pythagoras) which taught that ultimate reality was composed of numbers. The Cabalists believed there were several levels of meaning in the text of Scripture: one that was on the surface and obvious, and several other levels deeply embedded in the text?that could only be discovered if one knew the secret formula. One method (gematria) of finding this hidden meaning was carried out by assigning numerical value?to letters in the alphabet and then adding the sums to find the hidden meaning. For example, the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 has seven words, and the number of letters in the verse is 28, a number divisible by seven. When more 7s and multiples of 7s were found in the same chapter, it was determined the number 7 had mystical meaning and was therefore the author’s real message.
Several years ago the Israeli mathematician, Eliyahu Rips, located a rare book by a Polish Rabbi who devised codes for finding hidden messages in Scripture. The Rabbi’s method involved the laborious method of counting equidistant spaces between the Hebrew letters. For example, starting with the first time the letter “t” (in Hebrew) occurs in the book of Genesis, and counting ahead 49 letters you would arrive at an “o.” Then, by counting ahead another 49 letters and finding an “r” you would eventually spell the word “Torah.” Rips decided to see what would happen if he harnessed the power of the computer to work these codes. What he found (in 1986) was so amazing that he got his results published in a prestigious journal of mathematics and statistics. Rips, for example, found 25 names of trees and plants native to Israel embedded in the text of Genesis 2:7 – 3:3. Among his other discoveries were the names of 32 prominent Rabbis in Israel’s history along with places and times of their births and deaths in close proximity in the text. The main point of Rips’ journal article was that this was a statistical anomaly that was not due to mere chance. His method became known at equidistant letter sequencing (ELS). His procedure was roughly as follows: with the text of the Torah (the first five books of the OT) in his?computer, he eliminated all spaces between the words creating a long sequence of 304,805 letters (consonants only in Hebrew).
He next arranged the text in pages, in effect creating cross-word puzzles. Then he instructed the computer?to find a certain word in Hebrew that appeared with equidistant sequencing. Once he found a word or name, he would then look to see if any related facts might occur in the nearby text. One of Rips’ colleagues found the word “Auschwitz,” and, lo and behold, in the text he also found the names of other concentration camps! Enter Michael Drosnin. He seems to have impeccable?credentials. He was a reporter for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and wrote a best-selling biography of Howard Hughes. His book, The Bible Code was on the best-seller list for months. The book created quite a stir in England and among college students. Drosnin’s book is about Rips’ discovery. But it is more than that. After acquiring a copy of the computer program, Drosnin launched his own research. His results and subsequent claims are what made the book a sensation. In the book, he claims he found a prediction of Yitzak Rabin’s assassination. He further claims that he warned Rabin prior to the event. After the assassination, Drosnin claimed he found the assassin’s name embedded in the text. In the course of the book’s 200 plus pages, Drosnin makes many other claims about the codes predictive quality. The implication he presents is that this is supernatural, yet he continually denies that he believes in a god. I guess this is supposed to make his claims more credible to the scientific?community. Drosnin believes virtually all knowledge, real and hypothetical, is to be found encoded in the Bible. He also does his share of hedging his bets. While he definitely promotes the predictive?characteristic, he nevertheless, believes that the future is not determined, and what is predicted will not of necessity occur. Once a prophecy is known, like Rabin’s assassination, the future can be altered.
Apparently, this God he does not believe in, does not know the future infallibly, or either is powerless to prevent certain events from happening. This is very akin to the theological writing (process theology) of Rabbi Harold Kushner in his popular book: Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People? Professor Rips, who introduced Drosnin to the codes, has lashed out at Drosnin and others who use the codes for prediction, but ironically, many things found by Rips and his colleagues were also future at the time the first five books of the OT were written (Auschwitz, for example).
The concept of the bible codes is fatally flawed at numerous points. I will mention several, and then refer you to other sources for more detail. First, the way the pages are laid out is arbitrary. How many letters you allow on a page is purely the decision of the computer operator. This affects particularly words that are found vertically or diagonally (as in crossword puzzles). Secondly, the
Hebrew text they use is not the same as the original manuscripts. There are variants and textual problems that will affect the outcome. Thirdly, Drosnin’s translation of Hebrew leaves much to be desired. For example, in his most publicized piece of evidence, the prediction of Rabin’s death, he translates the?passage in Dt. 4:42 (the context is the cities of refuge), where Rabin’s name appears via the code, as “assassin will assassinate.” The correct translation is: “murderer who murders.” Many other examples are cited by critics. Fourthly, and perhaps the most damming of all, is the fact that it has been demonstrated by critics, that by using the same method, the same results can be obtained in other works of literature.
Other books that have been tried successfully are Moby Dick and War and Peace. Sadly enough, several evangelical ministers and writers have jumped on this bandwagon and have proclaimed in books and on cable television that the bible codes are proof of divine inspiration of Scripture. Such is the book, The Signature of God by Grant Jeffrey. Jeffrey thinks it is significant that “Yeshua,” the OT name for Jesus,?is found thousands of times encoded in the OT. What he does not know or admit, is so does the name Buddha and Mohammed! There are demonstrable reasons why “Yeshua” might be found thousands of times. In Hebrew, “Yeshua” is written with only three consonants and they happen to be three of the most frequently used in Hebrew.
In my opinion these books are not worth your time or money. Initially, it was an interesting phenomena that soon dissipated with close scrutiny. The Bible is not some mystical book with encrypted and esoteric messages that can only be found through some complicated method. While the Bible is a Holy book, it needs to be read in an ordinary way as though our lives depended on it.
If you are troubled by the above books, or know someone who has been snared by them, I recommend:
Decoding the Bible by John Weldon and Clifford Wilson. From my own experience, when Weldon speaks you seldom need look elsewhere. No one is more thorough or knowledgeable about cults and the occult.
On the internet, check the excellent review by Probe staffer, Rich Milne,?at: http://www.probe.org/docs/bib-code.html
For an excellent booklet see: Deciphering the Bible Code by Mark Chalemin. To get a copy, send?$2.00 to the author at:
Fellowship Bible Church North,
1700 Gateway Blvd.,
Richardson, TX 75080.
For the really serious, you will find a good Biblical perspective on numerology in:
Biblical Numerology by John J. Davis, and, Bible Numerics by Oswald T. Allis. To find these, you will have to look in the used book market, or check at the inter-library loan desk.
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