Monday, May 23, 2011

Biblical Numerological Silliness

I am 62. What can this mean?
A man named Harold Camping interpreted the Bible as "guaranteeing" a "rapture" would happen on May 21, 2011. It did not. And a "rapture" will never happen. (See here.)

Camping supposedly used biblical numbers to deduce this. Mathemathematical conclusions possess deductive certainty. That's why the Camping billboards stated "The Bible guarantees it."

In all my biblical training and studies I was never introduced to Camping's idea that, e.g., '5' represents "atonement," '10' represents "completeness," and '17' represents "heaven." "Biblical numerology" never entered serious textual discussions, except for things like all cultures have; viz., symbolic numbers like '911.' In the NT we have "the 12" (the disciples), and '40' becomes not hidden but symbolic.

I've never read "Bible code" literature. Look at this silliness, e.g., about a book called Bible Code III: "Saving the Word is the focus of this riveting new book about the Bible Code, a miracle proven real by modern science. For 3000 years a code in the Bible remained hidden. Now it has been unlocked by computer and may reveal our future. The code was broken by a world-famous Israeli mathematician, and then confirmed by a senior code-breaker at the top secret U.S. National Security Agency. And it keeps coming true." (I refuse to link you to this one.)

Re. Camping biblical numerology there's a nice little interview here with Clay Schmit of Fuller Theological Seminary.

I can assure you that people like N.T. Wright and Ben Witherington and Craig Keener are not right now crunching biblical numbers to unlock secret biblical codes that give us mathematico-deductive eschatological certainties.