“Hidden Treasures” (Missler) – Hidden in Plain Sight

Missler’s first “hidden treasure” is nothing less than a hidden message buried within the proper names of the genealogy given in Genesis chapter 5.  From what I have learned of Missler, he seems quite enraptured with the idea of codes and hidden messages in the Bible.  This isn’t surprising, however, given his background in cryptology and information science.

Right away one has to wonder why God would bother with hidden messages.  What function would they serve?  The answer, it seems, goes back to the introduction and the importance of prophecy.  A hidden message that also predicted some future event is certainly very interesting and reduces the chances of  being “fulfilled” on purpose.  So, is this what Missler has found, evidencing “supernatural engineering”?

Missler notes that it takes some work to “find” this particular “hidden message” and he isn’t joking.  He claims that one needs the original roots of the Hebrew names in question and this is somewhat reasonable, though it makes for a more difficult decryption.  After some looking of my own, however, it seems that one cannot look up these roots just anywhere.  Missler’s bibliography for this chapter consists of six references (see below), one of which is another book written by him.  This leaves one wondering how much support there really is for his conclusions.  So , what exactly is this “hidden message”?  In Genesis chapter 5 we are given the following genealogy:

1: This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
2: Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
3: And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:
4: And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters:
5: And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
6: And Seth lived an hundred and five years, and begat Enos:
7: And Seth lived after he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:
8: And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died.
9: And Enos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan:
10: And Enos lived after he begat Cainan eight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters:
11: And all the days of Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died.
12: And Cainan lived seventy years, and begat Mahalaleel:
13: And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eight hundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters:
14: And all the days of Cainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died.
15: And Mahalaleel lived sixty and five years, and begat Jared:
16: And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jared eight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters:
17: And all the days of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died.
18: And Jared lived an hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch:
19: And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
20: And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.
21: And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
22: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
25: And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:
26: And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
27: And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
28: And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
29: And he called his name Noah, saying, This name shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
30: And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
31: And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
32: And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

For the “message” we need only the names. In total, there are 13 names in this passage, but Missler claims we need only the first 10.  They are:

Adam, Seth, Enosh, Cainan (some say Kenan), Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah

Missler stops here even though the text goes on to mention the sons of Noah, namely Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  Now, Missler’s whole premise here relies on the significance the Hebrews attached to names.  Today we simply pick names we like, but the Hebrews chose names based, in part, on their meaning.  Here’s a rundown of Missler’s analysis:

Adam – man
Seth – appointed
Enosh – mortal, frail or miserable
Kenan – sorrow, dirge or elegy
Mahalalel – the Blessed God
Jared – shall come down
Enoch – teaching or commencement
Methuselah – his death shall bring
Lamech – despairing
Noah – to bring relief

If put together into a sentence, this would read:

Man is appointed mortal sorrow; but the Blessed God shall come down teaching that His death shall bring the despairing relief (or rest).

At first, this seems pretty impressive.  Missler, however, takes it to be quite a bit more, namely evidence of “supernatural engineering”.  He furthermore states that “This punctures the presumptions of many who view the Bible as a record of an evolving cultural tradition…”  But why?  From here I’d like to proceed in two directions.  First, is there really a hidden message here or does it take some “massaging” to get the desired result?  Second, even if we entertain this conclusion, does it really suggest a supernatural origin or is there a perfectly good natural explanation?

Hidden Message?

To see if there really was a hidden message I went to Crosswalk.com, a Christian website which has Bible study tools allowing one to look up original Greek and Hebrew words, even their roots.  Here’s what I found:

Adam – man or mankind
Seth – compensation [or from its root] to put, set, lay (hand upon), appoint, fix, set mind to, to constitute, make like, perform, to take one’s stand, to lay waste, to be imposed, be set upon
Enosh – man, mortal man, person, mankind
Kenan – possession, [from root] nest, to make a nest
Mahalalel – praise of God
Jared – descent, to go down, march down, to go or come down
Enoch – dedicated, [root] to train, dedicate, inaugurate
Methuselah – man of the dart or man of the weapon
Lamech – powerful (from an unusual root of uncertain meaning)
Noah – rest

Although some are a direct match with Missler’s translation, it is still significantly harder to see any coherent message.  One would imagine that if a divine being such as God had intended for their to be such a message, then there would be no doubt or ambiguity.  Yet, even Missler concedes at the beginning of this chapter that

“The meaning of proper names can be a difficult pursuit since a direct translation is usually not readily available… views concerning the meaning of original roots are not free of controversy and variant readings.”

With such an admission, it seems rather disingenuous to conclude the chapter with a verdict of “supernatural engineering”.

So, it isn’t clear that there really is a hidden message at all.  Nevertheless, provided that Missler’s translations are valid with respect to accepted scholarly understandings of potential meanings, it is interesting that such construction can be made.  For the sake of argument, then, let us tentatively assume that there is a “hidden” message.

Evidence of Supernatural Engineering?

Supposing that there is significance to the order and meaning of the names in Genesis 5, it seems that it would only be a “hidden” message with respect to gentiles.  As mentioned above, the Jews attached great significance to names and their meanings.  It is therefore hard to imagine that this “hidden” message would not have been plain as day to Hebrew readers.  Jewish writers were also fond of structure.  That is, there was significance to special kinds of literary structure.  So, this “hidden” message may have just been a clever literary device.

But what about the fact that it proclaims the Christian gospel?  Isn’t this a prediction of Jesus?  It is certainly easy to see why a Christian would be quick to conclude such a thing.  But notice that this particular message is quite vague.  Much of Jewish religious thought concerned itself with notions of apostasy and redemption.  Furthermore, the author of Genesis is already thought to preempt the gospel in Chapter 3 when God speaks to the serpent about one in the line of Eve that will bruise the serpent’s head.  This is called the proto-evangelium.  It is therefore not that surprising that the author would follow this theme by encoding this idea within the significance of names in the very line that was supposed to bring about the bruiser of the serpent’s head.

One could object that it is highly unlikely that these 10 people would have just the right names by accident, therefore God must have superintended it all.  While it would be unlikely, such an objection relies on the assumption that these 10 people were actually real historical figures.  But given that there is absolutely no evidence or reason to accept this and significant evidence to the contrary (even many Christians believe Genesis to be myth) it is reasonable to take this genesis account as merely a cultural myth whereby the figures and hence the names were engineered by the writer of Genesis to fulfill a literary purpose.  Far from being a prediction, then, later Hebrew writers simply constructed the story of Jesus (whether in part or in full) to coincide with all that they understood from the Old Testament, including this “hidden” message.

Missler’s Bibliography for Selection One
Missler, Chuck, Cosmic Codes – Hidden Messages From the Edge of Eternity, Koinonia House, 1999.

Jones, Alfred, Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990.

Kaplan, Rabbi Aryeh, The Living Torah, Maznaim Publishing Corporation, Jerusalem, 1981.

Pink, Arthur W., Gleanings in Genesis, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago IL, 1922.

Rosenbaum, M., and Silbermann, A., Pentateuch with Onkelos’s Translation (into Aramaic) and Rashi’s Commentary, Silbermann Family Publishers, Jerusalem, 1973.

Stedman, Ray C., The Beginnings, Word Books, Waco, TX, 1978.

Hidden Treasures (Missler) – Introduction

Hidden Treasures is a short book (a mere 112 pages), which boasts a great deal.  The author, Chuck Missler, holds graduate degrees in engineering as well as a Ph.d in biblical studies and has served as an analyst in various tech companies.  He is currently leading Koinonia House ministries, which he founded, and is a regular feature on various radio networks.  It is therefore fair to say that Missler is no intellectual slouch, though, he strikes me as somewhat pretentious.

This book was given to me in order that it might (at least help) allay the preponderance of doubts, which recently have driven me to a position of agnosticism regarding God’s existence in general and the “truth” of Christianity in particular.  I single out Christianity because it was the faith in which I was raised and spent the greater portion of my life adhering.  My hope is to critique this work in an objective manner though reason beckons me to be harsh and I won’t refrain as I find myself in agreement with the maxim: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Missler begins this work with a caveat:

This book can prove seriously disruptive to the comfort of closely held presuppositions.

It’s not clear whether this is a statistically motivated statement or merely what Missler thinks his book should do.  Nevertheless, it is always good to challenge one’s assumptions and search honestly for truth.

Missler goes on to offer two things which have most profoundly impressed him.  He lists these in the form of two bullets, but each makes several claims.

Bullet One:

The 66 books of the Bible form an integrated message system.

Here Missler’s experience with communications, cryptography, etc clearly bleeds through.  It’s not very clear, however, what he means by an “integrated message system“.  Presumably, by “integrated”, he means that the 66 books of the Bible work together and are coherently coordinated.  But coordinated to do what?  Missler seems to be suggesting that the Bible is a means of communicating not just a message, but, rather, acts like a channel between humans and God.  How it accomplishes this is not altogether clear (at this point not at all), but we’ll hold out hope that the answer is coming.  At this point, Missler’s statement (even if not intended to) must function as a hypothesis or conjecture.

…we now discover that virtually every detail of the biblical text evidences a highly skillful design…

From what I can tell, Missler seems fond of saying “We now discover…”.  The obvious question, however, is: who exactly is the “we” to which he is referring?  It certainly cannot refer to the intellectual community as a whole, or if it does, Missler is either deluded or is attempting to make his case sound stronger than it really is.  Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and suppose that he is simply designating some nebulous group of evangelical Christians.

The next obvious question, then, is: what does he mean by “discover”?  In what way has this been “discovered”?  In the sense that an ancient civilization is “discovered”?  In the sense in which a mathematical theorem is “discovered?  Or maybe in the sense in which a scientist discovers something (like quarks) via experiment?  Apparently the text itself “evidences” such a conclusion, but this appears to be born more of Missler’s bias than any obvious indication by the text itself.  Again, Missler seems to purposefully downplay the remarkable disagreement over the nature of the Biblical text, even amongst Christians.

…every word, every place name, every detail was apparently placed there (in the original) deliberately…

This last statement in Missler’s first bullet is a bit queer.  Notice that he is careful to note that his conclusions are only valid with respect to the original documents.  This conveniently removes the burden of having to explain all the difficulties that arise with the manuscripts we actually possess.  The problem is that this makes Missler’s claims unfalsifiable, since the originals are no longer in existence.  It also opens the door to the possibility that manuscripts have been subtly doctored as they were copied.  This amazing “discovery”, then, might be nothing more than the work of zealous (and sincere) humans over the course of many years.  In fact, this is one thing we know for sure: the Bible was written by humans so in some sense it is trivially true that every place name and detail was put there deliberately.  Of course, this is not what Missler means.  Instead he means to suggest that the Bible was not merely written by men, but that every detail was coordinated by God.

Bullet Two:

… it can be demonstrated that the origin of this intricate design is from outside of our dimension of space and time.

This has surely got to be one of the greatest and most important theorems of all time!  Although, given the casual feel of the book it is hard to believe that even Missler takes it seriously.  Instead, it comes across, more or less, as a statement of propaganda and/or rhetoric.  But if Missler is serious, then he has wasted no time in setting a very high bar.

It is probably fair to say that Missler’s usage of “demonstrate” is not the mathematical meaning, but more likely (and coherently) is used in a scientific sense whereby certain evidence indicates that one interpretation has a higher probability of being true than competing interpretations.  The rest of the statement is designed to sound impressive, but runs the risk of being nothing more since it is not clear what it means for a message to come from “outside” our spacetime or even if there is an “outside”.

Missler proceeds from here to give a few short paragraphs on the nature of time and the influence of Einstein in turning centuries of intuition on its head.  At that Missler is quick to conclude that because time is a physical dimension, God “dwells” outside of and is not affected by it.  This apparently sets the perfect stage for demonstrating that a message is from God.  How can this be done?  By proving that it came from outside our “time domain”.  But how does one know that a message has passed from outside to inside our “time domain”?  In short, the answer for Missler is prophecy.  That is, if some message accurately describes, say, the future, then Missler’s conclusion is that it must have come from outside spacetime.  To explain this, Missler gives recourse to a popular analogy in which people are watching a parade.  For simplicity, we can think of the parade as occurring within a 2-dimensional real plane.  People watching from within the plane can only see part of the parade at any particular time.  However, if we think of this plane as embedded in a 3-dimensional space, then people above the parade can see the entire thing at once.  So it is that God can see all of history at once.  On the face of it, this analogy appears useful, but after some thought serious problems begin to emerge.  For one, the analogy assumes too much.  In a physical example like this one, it makes sense that adding a third spacial dimension allows for a “privileged” vantage point above the plane.  Note, however, that this is an idealized example.  It assumes, for instance, that in adding an extra dimension, there is a mechanism of information transfer through this new space.  Thus, the people above the plane know the entire parade at once not simply because they are above it, but because there is a transfer of light (and therefore information) from the plane to the observer located above.  So, if the analogy is to hold, Missler must be implicitly suggesting that (a) our spacetime manifold is embedded in some higher dimensional space (where God apparently dwells) and (b) that there is a way to “see” all of history at once.  The only other possibility is that God knows all of history because “He” actually determined all of it.  But that’s a whole different can of worms.
But even if this should prove to be the case, it is not yet clear that the message in question must be from “God”.  Why must God be the only being capable of existing in this extra-dimensional space?  What if there are multitudes of bizarre beings inhabiting this space?  And even then, where do we stop?  Could this new space be embedded in yet a higher dimensional space with its own beings?  Missler doesn’t even think to address such questions.  Instead, Missler decides to re-express the supposed “fact” that “we” have now discovered that the Bible is such a message.  Why?  Because it “repeatedly… [describes] history before it happens.” (emphasis original)  But this is misleading.  What he should have said is that younger parts of the Bible were written with the appearance of having fulfilled older parts.  Now, this does not mean that the Bible writers didn’t predict the future, but it seems common for apologists to overlook the fact that there is a very simple, natural explanation for prophecy.  That is, since all the Biblical authors were steeped in the same religious tradition and knew preceding scripture well, those writing later wrote as if to fulfill what earlier authors penned.  This is not to say they did so deceitfully or on purpose.  None of the authors wrote in a vacuum, but were heavily influenced by tradition and culture, which inevitably affects interpretation.  Add to this the fact that just about every so called “prophecy” of scripture is hopelessly ambiguous and it becomes easy to see how “prophecy” can be “fulfilled”.  Because of these things, Missler’s case is, so far, rather underwhelming.

Although off to a rough start, this was just the introduction.  Missler still has 14 chapters to pull out the “big guns”.  Perhaps he will provide solutions to the problems mentioned above.  In the next post, we’ll examine whether his first “hidden treasure” is merely a literary one or a life changing one.

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