Who Was Alive in Jesus’ Day?

Every Monday, an assortment of data enthusiasts challenge themselves to remake a visualization from around the web. More often than not, the subject doesn’t interest me enough to participate. The #MakeoverMonday for May 30th was different. It was a chart of the lives of famous people, called Horizontal History.

The original post brought out some interesting points in time where people like Beethoven, Napoleon, and Thomas Jefferson co-existed. My first thought was to look for the most famous person of all, Jesus Christ. Technically, I should say he’s the most famous religious leader according to the underlying data from the Pantheon project. Two philosophers, Aristotle and Plato, out-rank him according to their methodology.

My makeover was to zoom in on the period when Jesus lived. I had some trouble at first because the data provided for the challenge was missing an entry for Jesus. Later I found a different version that was more complete but still had Jesus living to 40 years old, not 33 as stated in Luke 3:23. Therefore, I approached this as a way to spark thoughts but not an authoritative source of knowledge. Even so, moving Jesus’ birth and death dates by a few years either direction would not change who was alive at the same time.

With that in mind, here are the people whose lives overlapped Jesus’ time on earth and a few who lived shortly before or after (in light gray). Click any bar to see the Wikipedia page for that person.

I hope this stirs some interest and prompts you to look more deeply into this pivotal moment of history. If you are familiar with Tableau, you can download this workbook and explore it for yourself. Although the data needs to be cleaned, it can be a valuable place to begin connecting people in the Bible to other famous leaders of their day.

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