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Archive for April, 2008

New Feature: Bible Sentence Paths

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Try Bible Sentence Paths. This project maps all the words and sentences in the Bible and even sprinkles in some metadata.

Here’s what the Bible looks like when mapped in this way:
Try Sentence Paths


Here’s the idea:

  1. Start facing right with the first sentence in the Bible.
  2. Count the number of words in the sentence.
  3. Get metadata for each word—is it part of a quotation? Is it a proper name?
  4. Draw a line in the current direction, one pixel per word. Color-code each pixel based on the metadata.
  5. Turn 90 degrees clockwise—if you’re facing right, face down. If you’re facing down, face left. (Etc.)
  6. Move to the next sentence.
  7. Repeat steps 2-6 until you reach the end of the Bible.

You end up with a “map” showing sentence length and metadata.

Here’s a detailed image of Job showing speeches by God sandwiching speeches by Job and others. Speeches by God are in red; everyone else’s speeches are in blue. The book starts in the lower left and ends in the upper right.


Being able to zoom in and see the color-coded words would be a huge improvement and make this visualization more useful. I’d like to be able to hover over a specific line and read the color-coded Bible text.

Being able to browse and search the text (“Show me John 3:16”), highlighting just the relevant sections, would also be an improvement.

The drawing has lots of overlap, making it hard to draw conclusions. It’s pretty, but not too useful.

The drawing uses the ESV text as the base, since that’s what I have available; other Bible versions would probably show different patterns. It would be interesting to compare Bible versions.


Stefanie Posavec recently created a number of visualizations of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, one of which inspired this project. Stefanie color-coded each sentence from the book and mapped them out a formula similar to the one I used. Needless to say, Stefanie’s visualizations are much more impressive than mine.