Visualizing the Bible

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VisualComplexity offers this very interesting way to visualize the cross references in the Bible. Here is the explanation:

This visualization started as a collaboration between Christoph Romhild and Chris Harrison. As Chris explains: “Christoph, a Lutheran Pastor, first emailed me in October of 2007. He described a data set he was putting together that defined textual cross references found in the Bible. He had already done considerable work visualizing the data before contacting me. Together, we struggled to find an elegant solution to render the data, more than 63,000 cross references in total. As work progressed, it became clear that an interactive visualization would be needed to properly explore the data, where users could zoom in and prune down the information to manageable levels. However, this was less interesting to us, as several Bible-exploration programs existed that offered similar functionality (and much more). Instead we set our sights on the other end of the spectrum – something more beautiful than functional. At the same time, we wanted something that honored and revealed the complexity of the data at every level – as one leans in, smaller details should become visible”.

This process ultimately led them to the multi-colored arc diagram shown here. The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc – the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect.

Read it all here. Chris Harrison has a website that shows and explains this project, as well as others involving the Bible, here.

Category : The Lead
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2 Comments
  1. Nicholas Knisely

    This is wonderful! Thanks for finding it Chuck. I’m really struck by the size of the different arches as they represent a dialogue between scripture closely located and then across the body of holy writ.

    I wonder how much difference it would make if we changed the ordering of the texts? I’m assuming this was done with a modern protestant arrangement. What if we used a Catholic arrangement of books of the bible (and included the apocrypha)? What about a typical Anglican one?

    Or more interestingly – what about the traditional Hebrew arrangement of Law, Prophets and Wisdom?

  2. Nicholas:

    I did the post, but John Chilton gets credit for discovering this wonderful gem.

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