Vizable: The Simplest Way to Explore Bible Data

I want to make it as easy as possible for people to explore Bible-related data. My visualizations on Tableau Public let people see things, but it’s hard to go further than pre-defined views. If someone wants to re-arrange a chart, they would have to install Tableau Public, download the workbook, and learn how to use the software. While Tableau is extremely simple to learn, it’s better for business analysts than casual users. Vizable is an iPad app made by Tableau that makes data exploration easier for everyone. So, I designed a set of Bible data that’s optimized for this app.

With it, you count things like verses, paragraphs, sentences, words, and chapters then compare those numbers over different sections and writers. That isn’t much compared to everything that’s possible with Tableau, but it’s still a lot. While working with it I found several interesting things I may not have learned otherwise.

What I Learned

As I was testing it, someone asked me: “Who wrote more: Paul or Luke?” My instinct was that it would be Paul, but his question prompted me to wonder if that was true. When I looked at the data in Vizable, Paul squeaked out more words. But, that’s because I list Paul as the writer of Hebrews (more on that here). If we exclude that book, Luke takes the larger share of the New Testament.

In the process of looking at volume by writers, I noticed something unexpected. I knew I’d see Moses at the top of the list, but I would have never thought of those in second and third place. Jeremiah and Ezra each wrote more of the Bible than either Paul or Luke. In fact, the book of Jeremiah is the second-longest book in the Bible according to word count in the King James Version. If we count by verses, it’s the third-longest. As much as I’ve studied different parts of the Bible, these facts never occurred to me before now.

Since this data rolled up to the chapter level, you can calculate the average number of words, sentences, verses, or paragraphs at that level. One thing I found was that the Gospels have more words per chapter than other major divisions, even those in the Old Testament.

Paul and Luke have nearly the same word counts in the KJV. Moses, Jeremiah, and Ezra beat them both.

Adding book detail for each writer reveals that Paul is listed as the author of Hebrews - a common point of disagreement.

To compare Luke and Paul as though Paul did not write Hebrews, you can swipe left to remove that book from the anlaysis.

With the book of Hebrews filtered out, Luke and the books he wrote move above Paul in the sorted list.

Now we can remove book-level details and compare all writers, excluding Hebrews. Vizable shows you what's excluded on the left when not in full-screen mode. Adding verse count shows that Paul is still close behind Luke despite the filtered book.

Vizable lets you add measures side-by side by pinching. Tapping the header row reveals more options, such as showing an average instead of a sum.

You can sort on the average word count by pulling down under that header. This shows that the Gospels have more words per chapter than any other major division of the Bible.

Explore On Your Own

I want to give everyone a chance to discover things like these for themselves. It’s easy to make data analysis complicated. Making it simple is much harder. Opening this data in Vizable on an iPad is the simplest way to help people visually navigate biblical information. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Install the Vizable App and go through the tutorial.
  2. Open the VizableBible.csv file in Safari by clicking here.
  3. Tap “Open in…” and choose Vizable.

If you get stuck or want to know more, visit the How-to page on Vizable’s website or contact me. If you find something interesting, share it on social media with the hashtag #VizableBible. If you’re on Twitter you can tag me, @bibleviz.

Explore in Vizable

Vizable icon175x175
  1. Install Vizable (iPad)
  2. Open VizableBible
  3. Tap “Open in…” and choose Vizable
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