Visualization of the Week: Sentiment in the Bible

Sentiment analysis sheds new light on an old book.

New textual analysis tools are providing interesting insights into classic works of literature. Last month, for example, we looked at a visualization based on character frequency in Jane Austen novels.

Along similar lines, has just released a visualization showing a sentiment analysis of the Bible.

A blog post announcing the visualization outlines the ebbs and flows that were uncovered:

Things start off well with creation, turn negative with Job and the patriarchs, improve again with Moses, dip with the period of the judges, recover with David, and have a mixed record (especially negative when Samaria is around) during the monarchy. The exilic period isn’t as negative as you might expect, nor the return period as positive. In the New Testament, things start off fine with Jesus, then quickly turn negative as opposition to his message grows. The story of the early church, especially in the epistles, is largely positive.

Screenshot from's Bible sentiment visualization
This Bible visualization from includes both the Old and New Testaments. Black indicates a positive sentiment, red negative. (Click to enlarge.) created the visualization by running the Viralheat Sentiment API across a number of translations. The raw data from OpenBible’s visualization is available for download.

A second visualization breaks down the sentiment by specific book, making it easier to see those that contain overwhelmingly positive sentiment (Psalms, for example), those that contain negative sentiment (Job), and those that go from bad to worse (Jonah).

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This post is part of an ongoing series exploring visualizations. We’re always looking for leads, so please drop a line if there’s a visualization you think we should know about.

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