Sunday, April 25, 2004

By way of ongoing, Scripting News, Burning Bird, and others, my contribution to the Fifth Sentence game, from the Contemporary English Version New Testament:

After Jesus had told the people to sit down, he took the seven loaves of bread and fish and gave thanks.

Instructions: Grab the nearest book, open it to page 23, find the 5th sentence, and post its text along with these instructions. Tim Bray's addendum: point back to where you got the idea so that we can follow the threads (see above for mine).

No, i didn't cheat and grab a Bible just to look spiritual: this really was one of several books at arm's length from where i'm typing this (sitting in bed with my laptop). It's Matthew 15.35-36. I suppose i exercised discretion in which one of them i picked (among Seeds of Terror, Renovation of the Heart, the Laws of Software Process, First Things First, and others that i'm not making nearly enough progress against).

A picture named 3_16BibleTexts.jpg This game reminds me of a fascinating book, 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated. The book is remarkable in several ways: it was written by Donald Knuth, far better known for his contributions to computer science than Biblical studies, but defnitely a man of faith. He was crucial in the development of TeX and MetaFont, high-quality programs for typesetting which, though less popular in today's WYSIWYG environment, are practically fanatical in their devotion to the beauty of printed language.

The organization is also quite different. Knuth goes through each book of the Bible and examines the third chapter, sixteenth verse: Genesis 3:16, Exodus 3:16, etc. For each text, there is some commentary on the meaning of the text additionally, calligraphers prepared beautiful representations of the text itself. He has some interesting commentary on the mathematical properties of this kind of non-random selection algorithm, so there's something for geek, artist, and Bible student alike. Highly recommended.


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