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Christmas Timeline Visualization

Christmas Timeline Visualization

Over at the Bible Gateway Blog, I have a post discussing the above Christmas Timeline Visualization, which uses the same xkcd-inspired format as the Holy Week Timeline from 2011.

Sequencing the events of the Christmas story in the Bible to produce this visualization raises a few questions I’d never considered before (not that they’re unique to me):

  1. When does Mary conceive Jesus? Everyone (including several commentaries) says that it happens before Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. John the Baptist’s leap for joy in the womb is generally thought of as a response to Jesus’ proximity, but the text says that Mary’s voice prompts it. Even Elizabeth’s blessing doesn’t necessarily imply that Mary is already carrying Jesus.
  2. Did any of the shepherds who visited Jesus on the night of his birth have children whom Herod would later kill in the “Slaughter of the Innocents?” If so, that adds a chilling undertone to the story.
  3. Did the magi stay in the same inn at Bethlehem that didn’t have room for Mary and Joseph?
  4. Why do angels always inspire movement? Every time they show up in the story, someone heads off somewhere.

Thanks to my assistant for putting together the spreadsheet (CSV) containing all the data used in the visualization.

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