Researchers are claiming that the Bible’s book of “Genesis” may actually follow a distinct pattern — one that intentionally buries negative news. The literary device employed in the book is known today as “bracketing,” however, its newly-discovered presence in the first book of the Bible is its first known usage. Experts are calling the phenomenon the “Genesis Death Sandwich.”
While the Daily Mail calls this process of embedding negativity a “secret code,” the use of bracketing is apparently very common today. Employing this device in politics and written works, individuals will sandwich one theme in the middle of two mentions of a separate team (hence the term “sandwich”). To frame it in more understandable terms: Bad news is placed in the middle, with good news being placed at the beginning and end of a written work.
This way, readers or listeners are showered with positive themes, fed the negative and then, again, given the more favorable information. It’s a method of buffering unpalatable ideals by sticking them in the center.
Experts at Keele University, located in the United Kingdom, and Amridge University, located in the United States, found that this familiar technique was used when dealing with two themes in Genesis — life and death. While the latter subject is clustered into the middle of the book, the former is at the beginning and end of its scriptures.
Those exploring the issue are unsure if the rhetorical technique was intentional. But either way, it’s noteworthy. If, indeed, use of the technique was purposefully employed, it may have been done to soften the negativity surrounding death or to provide stark difference between the concepts of life and death in readers’ minds.
“This is a significant discovery for historians and theologians interested in the Old Testament, and shows that whoever wrote the version of the text that has been passed down to us was clearly employing this rhetorical structure,” explained Dr. Gordon Rugg of Keele University, the individual who developed the tool used to analyze the text.
This tool, called Search Visualizer, looks at texts through a grid. Each square present represents a word, with colored suares representing search terms. When the words “life” and “death” were searched in the King James Version of Genesis, the aforementioned sandwich pattern became evident, the Daily Mail reports. Here’s how the Search Visualizer web site explains the search process:
The core concept behind the SV is simple. You can tell a lot about a document just by seeing where your keywords occur within it. Imagine that you’re seeing a printout of the entire document with colour-coded highlighting on each of your keywords. The illustration show what happens when you do this for the text of Macbeth, with red highlighting for where the word “sleep” occurs and green highlighting where the word “witch” occurs. You can see at a glance that there’s an opening section with many mentions of “witch” and one mention of “sleep”. Then there’s a gap, with neither word mentioned, and after that, there’s a section which mirrors the opening section – many mentions of “sleep” and one mention of “witch”. With SV, you’re able to see this sort of pattern within a document the size of an entire Shakespeare play in just one image.
Below, see a graphical example of life versus death as presented in Genesis. The green boxes represent mentions of death and the red ones showcase themes pertaining to life. The “sandwich” theme is clearly visible based on the tool’s analysis:
This software won’t only help to analyze Biblical texts, but it can also be applied to other books to look for equally-fascinating patterns. Additionally, it can be utilized in police investigations to help examine witness testimony in the search for common themes and statements.
(H/T: Daily Mail)