Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Augsburg Confession Biblical References Part 2

I did some more reading on uses of Gephi, particularly this post on Facebook Network Analysis. I'm really just learning how to use this software and a very powerful feature for analysis is included that I didn't know about earlier: network analysis. Network analysis looks at a set of data and sorts the nodes into categories or sub-networks based on the connections between the nodes. In Gephi this is done with modularity plugin and the results can be very interesting. Not only are the results more visually appealing but the conclusions and directions for further research are more readily apparent.

Here is an updated network graph of the biblical references in the Augsburg Confession.
You can explore this graph interactively here.
When I prepared this graph I did a few things differently. The first major change is the layout chosen for the nodes. In my initial work I used a layout algorithm that tried to fit everything into a spherical pattern which looks nice but doesn't group things by how well they are related in particular. The new graph uses the "Force Atlas" algorithm. As you can see it groups the nodes by how closely they are related so visually browsing the data is much more effective. I also ran the modularity algorithm on the data which allows you to color code the nodes based on the categories that it finds. For this work I asked the software to find eight categories since that is the default.

The combination of the different layout and the color coding makes a few things immediately apparent.

There are two articles named Concerning Confession, one of them is doctrinal in nature and the other suggests reforms. It doesn't take network analysis to guess that these would be related. What is interesting from the graph, however is how far they are from the other articles. Of the verses referenced in these two articles, only Psalm 119:50 is referenced in another, Article 28 Concerning the Church's Power.

There are a few articles which are further removed from the others and stand alone; Concerning Justification, Concerning the New Obedience and Concerning the Church. The only one of these which is grouped with another article is Concerning the Church which has been placed with Concerning Faith and Good Works because they both reference Ephesians. This group also contains a third article, Concerning the Cause of Sin which also only references one verse from John. A more rigorous analysis of the texts of these three articles would show how closely these are related in language and content.

Two articles which do share similar viewpoints and are grouped together using this method are Concerning the Marriage of Priests and Concerning Monastic Vows. Despite the fact that these articles only reference one verse in common, 1 Corinthians 7:2, the modularity algorithm placed them in the same group and the layout algorithm has them near each other probably because of the relationships between these articles and others that they share more in common with in terms of references. It is interesting to see that they are placed together based on what the models know which is only biblical references and not based on actual content. The content of these articles is very similar however as they both deal with changes to monastic culture although one speaks particularly to the celibate lifestyle of priests and the other speaks to issues regarding the vows of monks.

As I learn more about the capabilities of the Gephi software it is becoming a much more useful and powerful tool for analysis. I plan to do some more research on this topic from both a technology and the theology point of view and will keep reporting what I find.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

An analysis of Bible references in the Augsburg Confession

I'm taking Lutheran Confessions this semester and we just read the Augsburg Confession. Many of the articles include Biblical References so I decided to do some analysis of them and if anything interesting could be found.

For those of you not familiar with the Augsburg Confession it was written by Philip Melanchthon beginning in 1529. The original document was presented at the Diet of Augsburg on June 25th, 1530 in both German and Latin. It was read in German so that the people of Augsburg could understand it but was printed in Latin for submission to Emperor Charles in Latin, as he did not know German. It was later expanded slightly and published in 1531. The purpose of the document was a defense of the positions being taken by Martin Luther and his followers who were attempting to reform the Catholic Church. While the two versions are very similar the wordings in some are different. Surprisingly there are some variations in the biblical references and for the purposes of this research I included references found in both the German and Latin texts.

The confession consists of twenty eight articles; the first twenty one articles set out the doctrinal positions of the reformers and the next seven discuss suggested reforms for the church. The document plays a dual role of defining positions of a movement but also condemning other reform movements at the same time. The Editor' Introduction in The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church includes the following: "In doing so [Melanchthon] sought to show that the theology taught in Wittenberg remained true to the catholic tradition, both by stating the biblical truth and by condemning false teachings also rejected by Roman Catholic opponents." (Kolb, Robert, Timothy J Wengert, and Charles P Arand. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000. 28)

Of the twenty eight articles there are biblical references in eighteen:
4 Concerning Justification
6 Concerning the New Obedience
7 Concerning the Church
8 What Is the Church
11 Concerning Confession
12 Concerning Repentence
16 Concerning Civic Affairs
18 Concerning Free Will
19 Concerning the Cause of Sin
20 Concerning Faith and Good Works
21 Concerning the Cult of the Saints
22 Concerning Both Kinds
23 Concerning the Marriage of Priests
24 Concerning the Mass
25 Concerning Confession
26 Concerning the Distinction of Foods
27 Concerning Monastic Vows
28 Concerning the Church's Power

Within these articles there are a total of seventy seven references to twenty one books of the Bible:

Relationships between articles and books
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 John
1 Peter
1 Timothy

Relationship between articles and book chapters
The image shows a network diagram that indicates the connections between articles and the books of the Bible that they reference. I chose to create this kind of graph because it can make discerning connections between nodes more apparent. By studying this graph it is possible to see which articles rely on material from the same books and it is also immediately clear which article references the most number of books, Article XXVIII Concerning the Church's Power. The weight of the lines is based on the number of connections so you can also see that this article references 2 Corinthians more than other books. We can also see that the books of Matthew and 1 Corinthians are referenced by seven articles but most are only referenced by one.

Since many of the books in the Bible cover more than one topic I thought it would be useful to go down another level and look at the book and chapter references. When looking at this level there are fifty four unique references so the network graph of connections between articles and references will get more complicated.

Since there are so many more nodes in this graph it becomes more difficult to easily spot relationships. The chapters which only have one reference are moved to the outside of the graph so those are quickly apparent. Looking at nodes closer to the center of the graph we can see that Acts 5, for instance, has connections to both Article XVI Concerning Civic Affairs and Article XVIII Concerning the Church's Power. We can also see that Matthew 15 has three connections of varying weight so it is possible to discern that is more heavily referenced than other chapters.

Going another layer deeper things get even more confusing. I tried looking at the book, chapter and starting verse of the references and the graph becomes so populated that it is very difficult to distinguish much of meaning. However, by removing the labels and tweaking the settings of the software you can make a pretty picture.

In a future post I'll share how I developed these graphs and include some of the data that went into creating them.

Update: thanks to Todd Bryant I discovered that these graphs can be exported so they can be explored without the Gephi software. I have posted them here:
Article to Book References
Article to Book and Chapter References
Article to Book, Chapter and Verse References