Visualize This

[ 3 ] October 31, AD 2011 |

My research in graduate school focuses on data visualization, so I tend to read quite a few visualization blogs. In general, they cover best practices, highlight some fun or interesting infographics, and so on. However, the most interesting blog I have found creates visualizations of the Bible in a variety of ways: OpenBible.info.

Now if you’re thinking “Wow, data visualization? That sounds dull. I left behind charts in my last science class”, let me reassure you that this is not your typical set of visualizations. These visualizations are engaging and give you new and unique ways to explore the history of our salvation (minus a few books, since a Protestant Bible is usually used). For example, check out my favorite (and the latest) visualization – sentiment analysis applied to the Bible. The gist of this is that for every 150 verses, a computer program gauges how positive or negative that set of words is based on a pre-determined database.

Sentiment Analysis of the Bible (from openbible.info)

You can click through on the picture to see a larger (and more readable) version. Those verses that are red are negative, and the black is positive; height indicates exactly how positive or negative. Starting with Genesis and ending in Revelation, you can actually see the ups and downs of our history. And it’s pretty accurate – Job doesn’t have it going for him for his entire book, except for the tail end. And the history of the early church is pretty happy, sans a letter or two. I also noticed that many of Jesus’ parables are in the red – perhaps because they are difficult lessons?

Another great example is the Holy Week timeline. I highly recommend clicking on the image below to scan the incredible amount of detail in this single design.

Holy Week Timeline (from BibleGateway.com)

This gives an in-depth overview of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion. Each colored line follows a particular group of people (Jesus, the Jewish leaders, the crowd, etc). Lines running concurrently show people who are together at that moment (such as when Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene after his resurrection). Light grey boxes highlight particular places that people were at, like the tomb or upper room. Finally, the entire visualization is annotated with specific Bible passages that reference each event as it is detailed.

As for some of the other fun visualizations, you can compare the personalities of different Bible translations (as well as a comparison of each member of the trinity), browse cross-references to other parts of the Bible, and look up where words appear throughout the Bible (you can see that Jesus saturates the New Testament). There is also a host of other analyses to look at over at the blog (such as what Twitterers gave up for Lent in 2011).

Which visualization is your favorite? Did you notice anything interesting, that struck you as odd, or perhaps not what you were expecting?

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About the Author ()

Allie Terrell is a 2010 convert to Catholicism after dabbling in a few different trains of religious thought. She graduated from Rose-Hulman in 2009 with a degree in computer science, and is now pursuing her doctorate in the hopes of teaching some day. When she can spare a few hours, Allie likes to visit religious sites and work on her photography. She blogs about her journeys at Here Is The Church.
  • http://spiritualworkoutblog.blogspot.com Liesl

    These are sweet! (I’m a chemist by trade, so I enjoy charts and graphs.) I found it interesting that the parables were red – I don’t know if they search for keywords to determine what is positive and what is negative, but I usually get a positive message from the parables. I think it’s really cool how it’s like a roller coaster all throughout salvation history (which it was, since people always screw up), but especially the high points, showing how God keeps giving more chances. I think it’s cool how even though there was a lot of persecution in the early Church, it is still mainly positive (and lots of it!) on the chart.

  • richard

    Very interesting.

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