Sunday, March 14, 2004
The data for the treemap is here, and is collated from some work in progress by the ESV folks. Continued kudos to Crossway Bibles for making their translation available as a web service: sharing is what makes all these kinds of exercises possible.
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A picture named NTNames-luke-thumb.jpgThe Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland produces some great visualization tools, including their Treemap software, which provides novel ways to explore complex multi-dimensional data.

The version to the right is too small to do anything but tease you: i've uploaded full size (1024x768 pixels) ones for Luke and the whole New Testament.

What's this showing? Based on the some data from the ESV , i grouped all the names in the New Testament by book and chapter,  with counts of each name in the chapter, as well as frequency in New Testament, and the number of unique names in a chapter. There's a hierarchical sequence of boxes, first by book, then by chapter, then by name, with the size of the box representing the word count for chapter. The color encodes the name frequency throughout: lighter means less frequent.

So looking at the Luke example, the most space is devoted to Luke 3, where the geneaology of Christ introduces a lot of names. There are 108 names there in all: Luke 15 at the lower right corner is at the other extreme, with a single name (Pharisees). The black boxes typically represent Jesus, the most frequent name: the lightest green are infrequent (novel) names.

You can get a very rough sense of the topics by the frequent names: in Luke 23, Pilate, Jesus, and Herod are the dominant names, because of the description of Jesus' trial. Elizabeth, Zechariah, and Mary dominate the events leading to Christ's birth in Luke 1.

In the treemap of the entire New Testament, you can't see the details, but you get a clear sense of where the novel names are. Acts is rich (lots of people and cities), as is Luke 3 and Matt 1, with the previously mentioned geneaologies. Romans 16 has quite a few: greetings to various church members there. The name of Jesus seems far more common in John's Gospels than the Synoptics. John's epistles are very low in names, near the lowest extreme for the New Testament.

You don't get the full-benefit from a static picture, though: Treemap lets you interactively explore the data in a variety of ways. Even though there are some rough edges with the data, there's a lot to be seen.

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