3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated

News: In the Fall of 1999, Prof. Knuth gave a series of six lectures at MIT on his 3:16 project, "Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About."

On January 9, 1997, I went into Quantum Books and was totally and pleasantly surprised. My absolute favorite computer scientist, Prof. Donald E. Knuth (no relation) of Stanford University had published a book I hadn't seen since it was published six years earlier: 3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated. I already have most of his masterpieces1. But I never knew Knuth was also a Bible scholar!

If you are interested in the book, here are the particulars:
Title3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated
AuthorDonald E. Knuth
PublisherA-R Editions, Inc., 801 Deming Way, Madison, WI 53717-1903, tel: (608) 836-9000
Year published1991
Price I paid$29.95

From the back cover:

Donald E. Knuth, noted scientist and award-winning author, culminates a life-long interest in Bible study, typography, and art with "3:16 Bible Texts Illuminated." This book is a marriage of profound Biblical insights and exquisite calligraphy--a treat for the mind, the eyes, and the spirit.

Dr. Knuth knew that a large collection of information can be understood reasonably well by selecting random portions of data and studying them in depth. He decided to apply this priciple to Bible study, believing that it might be an efficient and effective way to increase Biblical understanding. Because of the great popularity of John 3:16, known to millions of people by its number, he focused on chapter 3, verse 16, of each book.

The text found in position 3:16 of most books in the Bible is a typical verse with no special distinction. But when Knuth examined what leading scholars throughout the centuries have written about those verses, he found that there is a fascinating story to be learned in every case, full of historical and spiritual insights. Even "ordinary" Bible verses turn out to be extraordinary.

This approach to understanding the Bible as a whole worked so well for Knuth that he couldn't keep it to himself. He decided to write a book about the things he had found, so that everybody would be able to share his experiences. His jargon-free introductions to each book of the Bible and his in-depth analyses are written so that readers without any special background will be able to understand the history and implications of each verse.

He also decided that a book about the Bible should be beautiful. So he and the twentieth century's leading designer of typefaces, Hermann Zapf, commissioned 60 illustrations from outstanding calligraphers in 26 different countries. Zapf also helped to design the book and the cover typography.

The result is a grand tour of the Bible--from Genesis 3:16 to Revelation 3:16--with reflections by one of the great scientific minds of our time.

From the inside front cover:

Donald E. Knuth, a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, is the author of widely acclaimed books on computer science, mathematics, and typography. His TeX system for the composition of technical text has been adopted by scientists throughout the world. A member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, he received the nation's highest scientific honor, the National Medal of Science, in 1979. Knuth has been awarded honorary doctorates from Oxford University, the University of Paris, and eleven colleges and universities in America. He lives with his wife Jill in Stanford, California.


1 So far I've collected, but not yet finished, The Art of Computer Programming, the TeXbook (in English and Russian), Concrete Mathematics, The Stanford GraphBase, Literate Programming, Digital Typography, MMIXware and Selected Papers on Computer Science. I may never finish reading these books! But even if I could, I would still keep going back to them.

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