BIBLE THE - The entire King James Bible reorganised in alphabetical order. 1,364 pages, 165x220x45mm. Limited edition of 7 + 3 AP or digital download. By Joseph Ernst and Jan van Bruggen.

A book can change everything. It can move us, make us feel, teach us things we never knew, open our eyes, and help us see the world from a completely different perspective. A book can alter the course of history and shape an entire civilisation. A book can change us to the very core.

 

And yet at the same time, a book is just a collection of words placed in a specific sequential order. A complex literary algorithm crafted by its author. An algorithm that people might spend a lifetime studying, looking for meaning and answers, for inspiration and knowledge.

 

What if we could beat that algorithm? Turn a book into something objective. Quantifiable. Analytical. So we can study the individual parts and learn new ways to read a text. If we look at books as datasets, we can see the statistical information within the writing, and discover insights that might otherwise be impossible to find.

 

This is the first in a series of books to be transformed into data. Not just any books, but seminal books that have had a material impact on humanity. Using a custom made piece of software, we take the entire text of a book, and reorganise it alphabetically. That’s right. Each book completely reorganised from A-Z. This distils each text down to its lowest common denominator. It highlights the importance people tend to place on the order of said words – and their meaning – and allows for new and interesting interpretations of the written word, in much the same way as an abstract painting might. 

 

Starting with the first book in the series – “Bible The” – the entire King James Bible, reorganised and reprinted in alphabetical order. The result is a reductionist interpretation of the text that reveals some fascinating observations:  

 

BIBLE THE: Data suggests that The Bible skews towards a positive bias. For example, ‘Good’ is used 720 times, ‘bad’ only 18. ‘Love’ is used 308 times and ‘hate’ 87 times. And ‘happy’ less so, at 28 times, but still over twice as much as the 11 uses of ‘sad’.

 

‘Right’ features 358 times, ‘wrong’ just 26. ‘Light’ features 272 times, ‘dark’ only 43. ‘Pleasure’ 61 times, ‘pain’ 25. And ‘Life’ 451 times, still more than the 371 instances of ‘death’. This positive trait also translates into Biblical subject matter. For example, ‘Heaven’ features 582 times, whereas ‘hell’ only 54. There are 94 ‘angels’ to 55 ‘devils’, 96 ‘saints’ to 48 ‘sinners’, and 302 ‘blessed’ to a mere 3 ‘damned’, and a total of 27 ‘miracles’.

 

On the other hand, there are 1,394 instances of ’no’, whilst the word ‘yes’ only appears 4 times in the entire Bible. There are 269 “enemies” to 49 “friends”, 8 ‘liars’ and 51 ‘lies’. 150 ‘heathens’, 63 ‘judged’, and 26 ‘guilty’, with 37 ‘crucified’, 30 ‘hanged’, and 71 ‘defiled’. 

 

Unsurprisingly, there is no ‘sex’ or ‘intercourse’ in The Bible, but there are 17 ‘concubines’, 9 ‘adulterers’, 8 ‘harlots’, 4 ‘sodomites’, 3 instances of ‘copulation’, 3 instances of ‘conception”, 2 ‘whores’, and 1 ‘prostitute’.

Socio-economically, there are twice as many ‘givers’ as ‘takers' – 93 ‘poor’ and 81 ‘rich’, 77 ‘rulers’, 237 ‘prophets’, ‘30 nobles’, 480 ‘servants’, 400 ‘priests’, 30 ‘soldiers’, 17 ‘publicans’, 27 ‘workers’, 5 ‘lawyers’, 9 carpenters, 1 ‘fishermen’, 6 ‘lepers’, 3 ‘beggar’s, and 1 ‘slave’.

 

In terms of diversity, ‘White’ dominates by about 4:1, featuring 75 times, with ‘black’ just 18 times. But the Bible does appear to feature a diverse cast: 256 ‘Jews’, 254 ‘Philistines’, 98 ‘Egyptians’, 61 ‘Syrians’, 14 ‘Greeks’, 10 ‘Cushi’ (North Africans), 10 ‘Assyrians’, 7 ‘Romans’, 7 ‘Samaritans’, 5 ‘Persians’, 4 ‘Babylonians’, 2 ‘Libyans’, 2 ‘Christians’, a single ‘Arab’, and an equal amount of ‘believers’ and ‘infidels’.

Gender wise, the data suggests that The Bible is overwhelmingly biased towards males. At it’s most extreme, The Bible has 8,472 instances of the word ‘his’ and only a mere 3 instances of ‘hers’. And whilst this gender bias persist across the male-female divide, for the most part it is less pronounced. There are 1,653 references to ‘men’ and only 181 to ‘women’. ‘He’ is used 10,404 times, ‘she’ only 982. ‘Him’ 6,659 times to 1,994 uses of ‘her’. This bias extends beyond pronouns, to other gender specific identifiers: only 252 ‘daughters’ to 1,094 ‘sons’, only 8 ‘mothers’ to 548 ‘fathers’, only 4 uses of the term ‘lady’ to 7,830 uses of the term ‘Lord’, 3 ‘queens’ to 340 ‘kings’, and just 5 uses of ‘goddess’ to 4,440 uses of ‘god’.

It is important to acknowledge that most people believe The Bible was written by men, almost 2000 years ago. Although their biases are most likely unconscious and cultural, their words speak for themselves. So does the data. And the data does not lie. 

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