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Archive for April, 2010

Bible Cross References Visualization

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Here’s a visualization of 340,000 Bible cross references:

Visualization of Bible cross references.
Larger version (2,000 x 1,600 pixels).

Does anything strike you as intriguing? A few trends jump out at me:

  1. The frequency of dense New Testament streaks in the Old Testament, especially in Leviticus and Deuteronomy; I didn’t expect to see them there.
  2. The loops in Samuel / Kings / Chronicles and in the Gospels indicating parallel stories.
  3. The sudden increased density of New Testament references in Psalms through Isaiah.
  4. The eschatological references in Isaiah and Daniel.
  5. The density of references from the Minor Prophets back to both the Major Prophets and earlier in the Old Testament.
  6. The surprising density of cross references in Hebrew-Jude.
  7. The asymmetry. If verse A cites verse B, verse B doesn’t necessarily cite verse A. I wonder if I should make the data symmetrical.

You can also download the full-size image (10,000 x 8,000 pixels, 75 MB PNG). It’s a very large image that could crash your browser. If you want it, I strongly recommend that you save it to your computer rather than trying to open it in your browser.

This visualization uses data from the Bible Cross References project. I used PHP’s GD library to create the graphic.

Inspired by Chris Harrison and Christian Swinehart’s wonderful Choose Your Own Adventure work.

New in Labs: Cross References

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Browse 340,000 Bible cross references. Make the list better by voting on relevant or irrelevant verses.

For example, try Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”) or Isaiah 40:31 (“They shall mount up on wings like eagles”).

Philippians 4:13 cross references

The interface is about as bare-bones as it gets: there’s a list of cross references for a single Bible verse, sorted by relevance (i.e., votes). You can browse to related verses, vote on whether each cross reference is relevant, and see (on external sites) the verses in different translations. It also prints nicely. There’s no way to suggest new cross references, though I may add that feature if there’s demand.

The data comes primarily from The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (TSK) but blends other data, including the Topical Bible and Twitter Bible Search. All the copies of TSK on the web seem to descend from one source; I did some basic cleaning of the data and extracted the references. Then I blended the other data to weight some cross references more highly than others—that’s where the initial vote counts come from. (Incidentally, I only count around 380,000 cross references in TSK, lower than the usual count of 500,000 cross references you find when people talk about TSK. The lower number of cross references on this site–340,000–comes mostly from removing duplicates and combining adjacent verses.)

The 340,000 cross references in this data are a substantial number–most cross reference systems in print Bibles contain 50,000-100,000 cross references. While this list is more comprehensive, the tradeoff is that some of the cross references are less relevant than you find in print Bibles. As people use this site, however, the most-relevant verses should rise to the top.

The main limitation to the data is that the cross references always point from a single verse rather than from a range of verses: in other words, from Matthew 5:3 instead of from Matthew 5:3-11. Broader cross references—references that apply to a complete passage—are therefore missing from the data, limiting its usefulness somewhat.

The lack of an open, high-quality source of Bible cross references on the web has always bewildered me. This project is an attempt to remedy that deficiency. Feel free to download the raw cross-reference data (2 MB .zip, updated regularly with the latest vote counts) and use it in your projects.

Update April 12, 2010: Fred Sanders at Scriptorium Daily has a great introduction to the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge if you want more background on this work.