Reference Rainbow: “It almost looks like one monolithic volume”

JP: Interesting graphic illustrating the interconnectivity of the Bible. Click image for a larger view with explanation.

National Science Foundation: 2008 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

The first illuminated bibles were produced in the early Middle Ages by monks who painstakingly detailed illustrations for their sacred verse. Chris Harrison, a doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Christoph Römhild of the North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hamburg, Germany, present an illustrated Bible with a modern twist. Römhild started with a list of verses in different versions of both the Old and New Testaments that referred to figures or ideas from earlier passages, then combed through both books for additional examples. Using a custom-built computer program, Harrison translated the trove of data into “Visualizing the Bible.” Each bar on the graph along the bottom represents a chapter of the Bible; the bar length corresponds to the number of verses in the passage. The rainbowlike arcs represent references from a chapter in one book to a chapter in another. “It almost looks like one monolithic volume,” Harrison says.

Christianity Today: Reference Rainbow: What it looks like to graph the Bible’s cross-references

When Christoph Römhild, a Lutheran pastor in Hamburg, Germany, sent Carnegie Mellon Ph.D. student Chris Harrison a list of 63,779 cross-references between the Bible’s 1,189 chapters, the two became enthralled with elegantly showing the interconnected nature of Scripture. Each bar along the horizontal axis represents a chapter, with the length determined by the number of verses. (Books alternate in color between white and light gray.) Colors represent the distance between references. The graph won an honorable mention in the 2008 International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Science journal.

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