Bible Genome

Bible Genome

Map of Direct Citations in the Bible

What Scriptures were most influential to the writers of the Bible?  Who cited whom? Which writers were most schooled in Scripture?  Which Gospel writer referred the most to other Scriptures?  How big a role did Revelation play in their thinking and teaching?  How about Genesis and Job?  How are the parts of the Bible connected?  Which books appear to have been written at the same time?

From God To Us Revised and Expanded: How We Got Our Bible by Norman Geisler and William Nix is a foundational text for those interested in the topic, and I can highly recommend pretty much anything by Dr. Geisler (more on that in a future post).

“Jesus and New Testament writers amply illustrate their belief in the full and complete inspiration of the Old Testament by quoting from every part of the Scriptures as authoritative, including some of its most disputed teachings. The creation of Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4–6), the destruction of the world by a flood, the miracle of Jonah and the great fish (Matt. 12:39–40), and many other incidents are quoted authoritatively by Jesus. No part of Sacred Writ claims less than full and complete authority. Biblical inspiration is plenary.”
Geisler, Norman L.; Nix, William E. From God To Us Revised and Expanded: How We Got Our Bible. Moody Publishers.

While reading a litany of cross-references called out in the Geisler and Nix book, it occurred to me that it would be helpful if we could somehow visualize the direct citations, and thereby visualize the case for plenary (or full) inspiration.  After all, it’s one thing to read about Adam and Eve in Genesis, and it’s entirely something else for Jesus to refer to Adam and Eve in a non-allegorical context.  Or maybe not (it depends on your initial understanding and belief).

According to data available from Crossway Bibles, there are 599 direct citations between verses in the Bible.  If you add word-or-phrase, thematic, and less-direct references, there are over 115,000 cross references that have been mapped by Crossway.  To graphically illustrate these cross references, we can borrow a genome mapping tool from our Canadian friends working in the field of genetics.

The above illustration is a non-genomic map of all 599 direct citations in the Bible.  If you spend a little time studying the map, it highlights and supports  some very interesting observations and conclusions.

How To Read This Map

Briefly (I wouldn’t attempt to get into details with a normal audience, but Veracity readers are special), here are some keys to help you read the map.

  • The connecting bands represent ‘bridges’ where one book cites another.  The width of the bands is indicative of the number of citations between the two books.  The colors of the bands are meaningless, except to distinguish one connecting band from another.
  • The INNER ring is color-coded by writer (Paul is orange, Luke is lavender, Psalmists are red, Moses is brown, Peter and Mark are plum, John is blue, the writer of Hebrews is chartreuse, Isaiah is olive).  Numbers on the inner ring are the number of verses containing direct citations.  For example, Isaiah has over 130 direct citations from other books, and Psalms has over 180.
  • The OUTER ring represents percentages of connected verses within that book.  For example approximately 30 percent of the citations of Psalms appear in Hebrews.

So What?

OK (Lon Solomon), So What?  Actually there are some really cool concepts that emerge from the map.

  • The most influential/influenced Scriptures (the biggest wedges) were Psalms, Isaiah, Romans, Hebrews, Matthew, and Acts—accounting for half of the direct citations in the Bible.
  • Matthew is more grounded in the Old Testament than the other three Gospel writers.  (Isn’t it argued that Matthew’s text was written originally in Hebrew?)
  • Paul in Romans,  Acts (some of which is Paul), and the writer of Hebrews have the lion’s share of the New Testament citations.
  • Paul cites 13 different Old Testament books in Romans alone.
  • Genesis gets surprisingly little attention outside of Romans.
  • Job, which is arguably older than Genesis, gets even less recognition (in terms of direct citations anyway).
  • Peter apparently wasn’t very well read, as may also be apparent in Mark with so few Old Testament citations. (Mark was thought to be Peter’s secretary, so the Gospel of Mark is actually Peter’s source material.)
  • Revelation has almost no direct citations.  It cannot be surprising that no other books cite Revelation (Revelation was the last book written), but is interesting that the content of Revelation is full of direct dictation from Jesus and John’s apocalyptic vision(s).  In a graphical sense this reminds us that very few first-century Christians would have had their understanding of heaven based upon Revelation, and that Revelation is truly unique—and a gift to later disciples.
  • The Gospels are generally lacking in citations of each other—could this be an indication of their contemporary authorship (i.e. that they were written at about the same time).

What else do you see in the data?  Please comment below.

Ultimately, what we best might take away from this map is an appreciation for how tightly all of the Scriptures fit together, thereby supporting the case for the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures—in graphical form no less.

Enjoy!

HT: Dr. David Rudy; Krzywinski, M. et al. Circos: an Information Aesthetic for Comparative Genomics; Crossway Bibles and Jim Darlack

About John Paine

This blog is topical and devotional--we post whatever interests us, whenever. If you want to follow in an orderly fashion, please see our Kaqexeß page. View all posts by John Paine

6 responses to “Bible Genome

  • Videvia@aol.com

    Great works of reference collation! Might want to check on this statement though: “It cannot be surprising that no other books cite Revelation (Revelation was the last book written)…” Thom Mansfield

    (http://www.google.com/search?q=Heinrich+Rudolf+Hertz&ct=hertz-2011-hp&oi=ddle) _____________________

    • John Paine

      Thanks Thom, you make a good point. I have read a lot of commentary on the dating of Revelation, and there are many interesting arguments based upon internal and extra-Biblical sources. According to the Crossway data there are no direct citations of Revelation in the other books, which would tend to support arguments that it was written last. Internally, we could use the Apostle John’s words in Revelation 22:18 (“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book”) to argue that Revelation is the proper bookend to the New Testament (although admittedly his words could be limited to to just the words of the Book of Revelation).

  • Jerry Dearmon

    Would have been interesting to show the OT quotes by JESUS. As best my limited research shows; HE quoted somewhere around 41 times:
    13–Dt, Ps
    12–Isa
    6-Ex
    4–Zech
    3–Mal, Gen
    2-Hos,Jer
    1–Hos,Mic, Lev,
    (I have not verified this)

    Also as a point of reference it doesn’t appear that any of the NT quotes are from the apocryphal books written between 400 – 200 BC

    • John Paine

      Thanks Jerry, I’ll put this in the queue for a future post. (Maybe one of our friends could take up the topic of direct citations by Jesus. ;-})

      Also, I paddled around my references looking for cross-citation tables for the apocrypha, but haven’t been able to find them. There was a terricific site I found a couple of years ago that really laid them out nicely.

      In the absence of that data, here are two articles you might find interesting:

      http://carm.org/why-apocrypha-not-in-bible

      and

      http://carm.org/apocrypha-it-scripture

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • dwwork

    John, this is great, I am going to have to come back to this post to study it again and again. I was also impressed by the beauty of the graphic. Have a blessed day,

    David

    • John Paine

      Thanks David, I really had a lot of fun putting this map together. It turned out to be very simple once I had a couple of quiet hours to sit and explore. Someone else handed me the difficult part (the citations data), and from there it was just some playing around with Circos–an amazingly elegant and easy-to-use tool in its own right. One more picture to support how tightly the dots are connected in Scripture.

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