When Good and Bad Things Happen in the Bible

OpenBible produced this “Sentiment Analysis of the Bible” visualization. Black means something positive is happening while red represents something bad:

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.

It’s a pretty visual but not very helpful since it averages a lot of data (150 verses at a time). A book-by-book analysis (5 verses at a time) breaks it down a little further:

It may be misleading, though. It’s possible that a particular book including a particularly horrific section could still be drawn in black if it’s surrounded by other, “more positive” verses.

Still, it’s an interesting way to analyze a huge book, and it’s clear that there’s plenty of bad mixed in with the good — even in the New Testament.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa E

    The Judges / Samuel / Kings era is as bad as all that red suggests. Very interesting, very, VERY bloody. 

    But if the Hebrews genocide another tribe at God’s behest, is that red or black? 

  • Jonas Green

    Haven’t looked closely yet, but even the good parts could be bias, or intrinsically both bad and good. — ex: passsover, yeah freedom from exile – boo drowning of egyptians, killing of first born etc.
      – - not to mention clearing out the promised land of the natives. — yes I mean genocide.

    • Heisenberg

      Right on. Who’s point of view are we looking at the scenarios from to determine whether they’re intrinsically “good” or “bad”? From the eyes of Moses (and I suppose modern day Christians) the flood was good. Too bad everyone else plus countless animals drowned to death. So, red or black? 

      It is funny how we’ve been coerced into treating the bible as fact when much of it isn’t.

      • Devious Soybeans

        Exactly. I know a few Christians who love to say “God is good — always.”  Everything in the Bible is good, and if you don’t see it that way, well…um…God works in mysterious ways? All will one day be revealed?

  • Heartfout

    Looks similar to an idea I’ve been kicking around, which is testing whether I agree with the common statement that Jesus was a great moral teacher by going through each verse of the gospels and assigning them a value of -10 to 10, based on how well I agree with them.

  • Anonymous

    There seem to be things that ended up one color by tone, but the context goes the other way. So a punishment ends up in black. Hardly surprising for an automated analysis

  • Tony

    The biggest issue I saw was that Levitical laws about sexual morality were deemed to be good…

  • Anonymous

    My sentiment analysis would look a lot different than this, I’m sure.

  • dauntless

    Isn’t it all bad, though?

  • Cobo Wowbo

    Maybe I should do my own sentiment analysis of the bible. I have a feeling it would look nothing like the one above.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Whuff-Uffington/100002021391910 Whuff Uffington

    I find this interesting. It echoes my own research published in my book and the recent ‘artwork’ of a clergyman in mid–Wales, who broke the book up into good and bad parts and displayed them in a ‘wall of shame’ in his church. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-14257755

  • Maha

    i like to do research.pls guide me fnds.i need ur valuable suggestions.i am interested in bibble sentiments analysis.i am a hindu.i accept jesus as my lord.i like to do somethng to him in my life


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