The Prophets

Lately I’ve been intrigued by some of the unique ways information is conveyed graphically.  An example of this may be seen in the idea behind word clouds.  Essentially, a word cloud is an image made up of words, where the size of the word represents the frequency it occurs in a text.  Brad Thomas at the blog recently made word clouds for all 66 of the books of the Bible using an English translation.  The result is an interesting glimpse at what the Bible speaks most about.

Since one of the first classes we’ll have when we get back to Jackson is the Prophets, I decided to enter the text of the Major and Minor prophets (Isaiah through Malachi) into the cloud generator at  The result is the image you see above featuring the most frequent 150 words (excluding numbers and common words like “the”) from the prophets in the NET translation.

For obvious reasons, we have to be careful about the type of conclusions we can make based on a picture like this.  What we can get, however, is an idea about context.  We can tell right from the start who the main subjects are.  God’s people, Israel and Judah, the city of Jerusalem and the promised land are all prominent.  But my favorite part is the overwhelming size of “Lord”.  Is there any question what the most used word in the prophets is?  This is simple, but something I often neglect to realize: beyond Israel, the prophets, the prophetic message or anything else, the most important thing in the prophets is the Lord.  All the events of the Bible, each story told within, is ultimately a chapter in God’s redemptive story.  No Biblical event has any meaning apart from God’s involvement in it.

We’re tempted to focus on our part in the story, but the words point us to the real subject.

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