The King James Bible: A Network Visualization
Posted on: 28 Dec '11

The King James Bible just turned 400. And what better way to pay tribute to "the greatest book ever written by committee" than to mine it and visualize the results! I was building some tools for mining a large corpus of sixteenth and seventeenth century texts and decided to test some of those techniques by extracting some patterns from the Project Gutenberg text of the KJV. The result is a network that represents relations between people and places (counting the occasional, deity, angel angel or devil as "people" of course). Nodes are sized by frequency of the name and edges are weighted by proximity. So, names that occur together frequently are pulled closer while those that don't end up far apart. The network has over 2,300 nodes and well over 30,000 edges.

In addition, I tried to get visual representation of "plot" as it were by building a simple classifier to weigh each node between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I used this attribute to color-code the nodes and edges - bluer representing the OT and redder the NT. You might notice that blue portion has a significant reddish tinge while the red is relatively uncontaminated by blue. This is largely to be expected, because many OT characters find mention in the NT while the reverse is naturally far more unlikely.

I made little adjustment to the data once it was extracted, mainly because I wanted to simply try out certain broad techniques, without delving too far into Biblical scholarship. So of course, this can be further refined to extract much more useful information with a little more effort. The one major change I made involved merging the frequency counts for "Jesus" and "Christ" as it seemed logical to have them as one node. The little strand of debris that seems to be floating away into space from the New Testament galaxy in the image below is an artifact of this change. It represents a small cluster of names from Romans 16 whose only connection to the main network was through their link to "Christ." But that small mishap aside, the network seems to work well. A poster print would make it possible to observe the little known names at the edge of the biblical galaxy - here I provide a sample in the last image which zooms in on the top right of the network.

King James Bible Network King James Bible Network King James Bible Network King James Bible Network King James Bible Network King James Bible Network