This Code Is Remixing Translations of the Bible to Find New Meanings


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A work of computer-generated literature is translating the Book of Ecclesiastes infinitely.

By Jason Johnson | MOTHERBOARD

There are dozens of English translations of the Bible, and sometimes the differences between them can dramatically change the meaning of the ancient text. You probably know this if you’ve studied it at all (or ever had to translate anything), but if you didn’t, a visit to Hyperbible, a Bible-remixing web app that uses generative writing to explore the nuances of interpretation, can teach you that lesson quickly.

Developed by Carnegie Mellon computer science student Katherine Ye, Hyperbible randomly generates new translations of the Book of Ecclesiastes, a collection of proverbs and advice.

For each verse, Hyperbible randomly selects one of ten different translations of Ecclesiastes, placing them in chronological order until it has assembled a complete book. The result is a nearly infinite version of Ecclesiastes, since each of the 222 verses can be interpreted in 10 different ways apiece and combined differently. You can try it out for yourself by clicking this link.

“The chance that any two readers will see the same Ecclesiastes during the lifetime of this universe is as good as zero,” Ye told me in an email.

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