New Bible Old Testament Questions and Answers Data
I totally dig data. I’ve been spending time spinning the Ashley Madison data (though I haven’t uncovered anything better than this guy did where he surmises that of the 5 million “female” users, there couldn’t have been more than several thousands of real women on the site.) and just love looking for trends in large swaths of information. Better yet? Take the data and make an infographic about it.
To that end, I have spent years, literally – years, reading through the enormous swaths of literature data in order to find certain information out. For a while I took on writing style heuristics just to help identify the real author of the Shakespearian plays (yes, I personally don’t believe Shakespeare authored the works. There is too little of his real life available to us.) There really are amazing tools out there to get a fingerprint of an author by analyzing key word usage, etc. So I spent probably over a year playing with these tools, but it never became anything more than a hobby and an amusing theory that makes smile when I think about it.
The Bible also has been another interesting source of data that I’ve found interesting to mine. I’ve mapped every time Jesus stated (obliquely or directly) He was God, and who He said it to. I’ve mapped every healing that was stated that He did throughout the new testament, and what it was. I also mapped every question Jesus was ever asked and whether He answered it or not. Took me upwards of 4 years too synthesize that data, and I made it all available as a quick download.
Well, a little while ago I started another enormous project attempting to answer an extended question in that same arena. When I set out to answer all the questions that Jesus was asked, and all His answers, I had a bit of a personal agenda in that I also would love to be able to chat with Him openly, and I thought that maybe if a data-mined the information within the dataset I’d probably find my own answers and insights from the information. And I did. I found tons of insights and answers from the exercise. So much so I have even written a pretty extensive e-book about the experience. (Which is still sitting on my hard drive somewhere. If you notice I love starting projects, but I hate finishing them.)
So, now I thought, hrmmm… I wonder what I’d find if I went through the entire Old Testament and detailed every time anyone conversed with God. What it tell us about humans, and their need for God. What would it tell us about God’s propensity to answer man. It would be interesting to hear the answers, all lined up, in a row, to see themes and various trends in God’s communication to man. It would be also fascinating to learn about what God would want to know from man. Right? Are you curious? I am.
But to re-read the entire Old Testament and tweezer out all the questions between man and God is not easy. There isn’t an algorithm that you can write to do that for you. (Oh I know, because I tried writing some python that would do it for me… sure, I got all the questions… but most of them were just humans talking. I wanted just the conversations with God. That’s trickier.) And so to do that, one has to read several thousand pages of text looking for the nuance of the conversation and the times when man pointed his face at the sky and begged for help.
Well, I don’t have anything to share with you today… I’m still working on gathering the data. I’m probably about half way done with the question collection, and yet already I’m seeing some pretty interesting themes. For example, I’m betting that if you plot the questions against a timeline of the Bible, you will see full swaths of history where there were zero conversations with God occurring… kind of like right now.
I’ve also noticed (again) just how selfish man is. Whole sections of questions so far have consisted literally of, “WHY ARE WE OUT HERE?!?” and God responds with, “Oh pipe down.” Ok, so that was a bit of a Taylor Transliteration Message version. But you get the idea. They are unbelievably annoying questions. And yet, if someone were to read my questions of God (that I ask day after day after day) a thousand years from now wouldn’t they seem annoying? Heck, on the rare occasion when I journal, and I look back through my thoughts from a few years previous, I annoy me.
Anyway, I had a ton of fun researching all the questions asked and answered by Jesus. It was tricky, and very hard to pull together into a readable format. But once it was done I was very proud of the result. And I just thought I’d take a moment out and let you know what it was that I was working on for you in the (hopefully) near future. I’m sure I will post the high level roll up of my findings here and I will offer the entire data set for a small fee to cover my effort. (Believe it or not, I’m still buying the guy who built my database schema for me hamburgers to pay him back. haha.) But for those of you that in school or can’t afford it (really? 10 bucks?) I give them away.
I probably ought to finish that book as well discussing the journey of the research and the findings that have impacted me personally. Heck, I’ll post some screen scrapes of the e-book I started a couple years ago, and is now almost fifty pages so you can see what I’m talking about. If you are interested in reading more, or even helping me with it, I’d love to hear from you. But I’m sure this line of research will continue to bubble up here, as it continues to bubble up in my own life every day.