A Flow Of Words

This new visualization is again more a ‘digital art’ creation than a data visualization. All words of the bible are added one by one as spheres. If the word is already on the screen, the size of the sphere grows. Over time spheres shrink, so that more frequent words ‘survive’. The words ‘the’ and ‘and are omitted because they are very frequent.

This experiment is created with processing and you can see it live on openprocessing.org. As physics engine JBox2D is used.



Although the main focus of this blog is bible data visualization, I will include some ‘Bible Digital Artwork’ from time to time.

Recently I finished a digital artwork based on the famous painting ‘The Deposition’ by Rogier van der Weyden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogier_van_der_Weyden). The artwork was inspired by the work of a belgian video artist Walter Verdin. He made a very calm and serene piece on the same painint (http://www.slidingtime.be/).

The artwork was made in the tool processing (http://processing.org/), a perfect tool for producing fast and easy digital artwork. You can see some great examples at openprocessing.org, or flight404.com.

Here’s the video of my spiece ‘Rogier van der Weyden revisited‘.

– on Youtube : Rogier Van Der Weyden Revisited

– on Vimeo : Rogier Van Der Weyden Revisited

If you google (or yahoo or bing) on ‘bible visualizations’ you will most likely end up first on ‘Chris Harisson’. You will find several blog posts on his work ‘visualizing the bible’.

Chris Harrison Visualizing the bible

His work shows cross-references in the bible. At the bottom you have the sentences, the arcs represent the cross-references.

A second visualization you will find is based on the work of Stefanie Posavec’s visualizations of On the Road and is reworked in an online application on openbible.info on the page ‘Bible Sentence Pahs’. In her work paths are generated based on the sentences data (length, topic, …).

Enjoy these wunderfull visualizations !

Please add a comment if you know other great bible visualization resources on the web.

I got a reaction on my previous post by Andy Kriebel with some remarks (thanks!) on my first visualizations. And he’s right. No need to put a lot of coulours in your graphs (backgrounds, titles, …) because they only distract the reader. Less is more again. I also reversed the ordering, so that it is clear that thje top word is ‘the’. Here’s the reworked graph (click to enlarge):

His second remark was about the visualization of the most occuring ‘meaningfull words’ in the bible. Here ‘more is more’ as in ‘explaining the graph’ so the user clearly understands what you are trying to show.

The background colours are overdone, but different colours for every word are very usefull here as it makes the graph better readable. Removing the legend and putting the labels in the chart itself also helped readability. The reworked version of the chart and a better explanation :

Of course the words that occur most in the bible are ‘meaningless’ words as ‘the’, ‘and’, ‘or, etc… This chart show the occurence throughout the bible of the top 20 ‘meaningfull’ words.

As you can see, moses and david occur more in the ‘old testament’ and the name jesus only appears in the second half (new testament).

So the bible counts 12.687 distinct words.

But what are the most frequent used words ? Here the graph (made in excel).

Not very intersting. Of course the most frequent words are ‘the’, ‘and’, etc… The word ‘Lord’ is the first ‘meaningful’ word on the 14th place. ‘God’ is 28th, ‘Isreal’ is 49th and ‘Jesus’ is only 112th. Get the full in list below.

Then I tried to visualize the top ‘meaningful’ words and their occurence in he bible. I got inspired by the wunderfull ‘box office’ visualization made by the New York Times. To generate the data I used the tool processing again (it is also great for non-visual data processing) and made the graph in excel. To ease the graph lines (less irrgular peaks) i used moving averages.

All 12.687 words with frequency count: view/download.

In this second visualisation I try to visualise the whole bible in one picture. To create the pictures i made use of a very handy application called ‘processing’ (http://processing.org). It is a simplified (but very powerfull) programming environment based on java and it’s “ideal for artists”. Check it out.

Every pixel in this 2000×500 picture represente 1 word. The color of the pixel is derived from the letters of the word and should be unique for every word (as we can show 16mio collors, that is no problem because we only have 12.687 distinct words).

This picture is not the original one as it is to heavy to put on the site. Actually it is a standard compressed jpeg so some quality is lost (todo: I should make a lossless copy available somehow).

If you look closely (click to enlarge) you can see variations of colors (horizontal bands) throuhout the picture.

In the next picture (clik to enlarge) you only see the pixels for the word “God”. I could try to make an online application where you can enter a word and get the picture visualizing the words occurence (If you want me to make you one in the meantime, just send me a message).

Day 1 : The basics

Number of words

Google Chart 'Number of words'

I start off with a very simple visualization. The number of words in the bible.

All visualizations will be based on the openly available text of the bible with the folowing reference: The King James Bible from Bill McGinnis Ministries (http://patriot.net/~bmcgin/kjvpage.html).

I use a few java programs (java.sun.com) to process the text in different ways and make calculations. The text processing goes very fast (few seconds to process the text). I devlop he programs using the eclipse IDE (www.eclipse.org)

This visualization was made with Google Charts API, an open source graphing solution by Google (http://code.google.com/intl/nl/apis/chart/image_charts.html).

The exact number of words in (this version of) the bible is 789.173. This number is generated by 12.687 distinct words. The most popular distinct word is ‘the’ and is mentioned 63.924 times. TODO : I should make a visualization on the most common words.

For some strange reasons, the graph api always relates values to a 0-1 range, and therefore we cannot show the actual value on top of the bar.

The parameters for this graph are :


All documentation can by found at Google Code, Google Chart Api.