The Works of Jonathan Edwards have been rightly hailed as a singular monument to America’s Theologian — “no comparable digital resource for an American religious figure exists.” But what remains to be done with this mountain of text? Mine it and discover the veins of its precious metals! This is a task for deep visualization. Below are some benefits of visualizing the terrain of JE’s writings:
1) Visualizations can reduce the cognitive load of the researcher—a greater amount of information can be communicated in a visualization more quickly than having to scan through thousands of lines of JE’s text. In other words, a picture can be worth ten thousands of words.
2) Visualizations of Edwards are beautiful confluences of theology, technology, and art. The colors and connections guide the eye, and in a blink you can assess the content and greatly accelerate your research time, discovering connections which are otherwise greatly obscured.
3) Visualizations reveal both context and details which combine to deepen understanding.
The attempt to visualize complex or abstract ideas in aesthetically pleasing ways is not new, even within the world of Evangelical theology. Check out this 17th century visualization by John Bunyan of the Map of Salvation.