Is the Torah an ancient set of laws or a divinely coded document that, if read correctly, provides clues to all major historical events? That's the question the History Channel documentary "The Bible Code: Predicting Armageddon" wants to answer.
While many might think of the codes as a modern phenomenon, people have been searching for codes in the Torah since the 12th century.
In the late 20th century, Bible code scholars counted letters at various intervals to see what words appeared, and later, they used computers to lay the text out on a grid, or matrix, and counted some more. Noting when certain words materialized next to each other on the grid, scholars say they found clues to -- among other things -- the 1929 stock market crash, World War II, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and the L.A. earthquake of 1994.
While most of these clues were found after the fact, Bible code proponents point out that they were able to predict the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin before it happened, and they tried to warn the Israeli government to no avail. (Though presumably, if the Torah is divine, then it is unlikely a little warning would derail God's plan.) They also predict another major earthquake in Los Angeles in 2010 and Earth's possible destruction by a comet in 2012.
Opponents of the codes interviewed in the documentary say that they can be found in any text, and point to experiments run on "Moby Dick," where letters counted at equal distances revealed Princess Diana's death.
Matthew Asner and Danny Gold, the two Reform Jews who wrote, directed and produced the documentary, say that while they don't necessarily believe in the codes, they find them interesting.
"If you totally believe in the codes you're a fool, but if you dismiss them completely then you're a fool, too," Asner said. "But let's just say that in the last part of 2009, I will be getting earthquake insurance."
"The Bible Code" premieres on The History Channel, Sun.,' Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. www.historychannel.com .