The text found in chapter 3, verse 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. This book presents jargon-free introductions to each book of the Bible and in-depth analyses of what people from many different religious persuasions have said about the texts found in chapter 3, verse 16, together with 60 original illustrations by many of the world's leading calligraphers.
The result is a grand tour of the Bible -- from Genesis 3:16 to Revelation 3:16 -- a treat for the mind, the eyes, and the spirit.
French translation by Denis Serre (Paris: Bayard Editions), to appear.
Some have called Knuth's approach ``the way of the cross section.''
Available from the publisher, A-R Editions, Inc. (phone 608-836-9000). Don't believe anybody who tells you the book is out of print. A 22x38-inch poster containing all of the artwork is also available from the publisher; this poster was designed by Hermann Zapf.
``This book is ingenious, provocative, and wonderfully informative. A more imaginative and effective passageway into the Bible I have yet to see. Jews and Christians of all stripes --- in fact, nonbelievers too --- will read 3:16 with profit and delight.'' --William Sloane Coffin, Minister Emeritus, Riverside Church, New York City
``It is difficult to think that a totally new approach to the Bible could be found --- at least one that is sane. Donald Knuth has found one, and produced a book that is physically beautiful and intellectually and spiritually stimulating.'' --Raymond E. Brown, Professor Emeritus, Union Theological Seminary
``Around fifty-nine 3:16 verses that provide Donald Knuth with a whimsical sampling of the Bible's fifty-nine books, he has woven an elaborate tapestry of biblical commentary. Whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, this commentary, drawing on Knuth's astonishing knowledge of biblical history and criticism, is sure to enrich your understanding of both testaments.'' --Martin Gardner
If you are the first person to report any further error, I will gladly deposit a ``finder's fee'' of 0x$3.00 (i.e., 3 dollars in base 16) into your account at the Bank of San Serriffe. Please send suggested corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send snail mail to
Prof. D. Knuth
Computer Science Department
Gates Building 4B
Stanford, CA 94305-9045 USA.
The artwork for this book became the basis of a traveling exhibition of calligraphy, supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts. The exhibit was shown at 26 sites in America and Europe during 1990--1995, ranging from the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the National Cathedral in Washington DC to the Guinness Hop Store in Dublin and the Museo della Stampa in Torino. It is now permanently housed in the Harrison Collection of Calligraphy at San Francisco Public Library.
After further study, I realized that my published translation of John 3:16 was not the best possible, so I prepared a new translation that reflects more accurately the conventions and style of the original author. Hermann Zapf presented me with a calligraphic rendition of the new translation for display in my home, on my birthday in 1996. I am pleased to share this artwork by making the PostScript file john316.eps.gz (75140 bytes) freely available. (Also in Acrobat form.) Laserprinted output cannot compare with the beauty and sparkle of Hermann's original, of course, but it helps the viewer imagine what the original might be like.
Note to book binders: I have a nearly complete set of unbound signatures of this book (unfortunately lacking pages 125--140), for somebody who wants to make a handbound copy. Please let me know if you want further details.