Interesting Facts about the Bible
There’s a lot of really interesting stuff to learn about the Bible beyond its core message. I’m keeping a running list of really interesting facts that I’ve learned about the Bible—feel free to comment with some that you think should make the list!
1. The Bible was written in three languages
Those languages are Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of our Old Testament was written in Hebrew, which was the language the original readers spoke. A few bits of the Old Testament were written Aramaic (looking at you, Ezra and Daniel). The New Testament was written in Greek, the commonly-spoken language of the time.
2. The Bible is about 611,00 words long
In those original languages, the Bible’s word count is about 611,000.
That word count is not going to line up with your Bible though, for a few reasons:
- When translating the Bible from its original languages to English, translators tend to use more words to get across the original author’s point.
- Different translations word passages differently, which results in a variation in word count.
But even so: it’s interesting to think that while the Bible is longer than Moby Dick, it’s nowhere near as long a read as the Harry Potter saga. You can learn more about just how long the Bible is here.
3. The longest book of the Bible is Jeremiah
This prophet had a lot to say. He even wrote in the twentieth chapter of his book:
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)
Granted, Jeremiah is the longest book based on how we currently arrange the books of the Bible. If we did it the old school way, the two-part book of Kings would be the longest book.
And if we did it really, really, really old school, the five-part Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) would dwarf all other contenders. This megabook alone makes up about one fifth of the whole Bible!
You can learn more about the longest books of the Bible here.
4. The shortest book of the Bible is 3 John
5. The Bible was written by more than 40 traditional authors
The books of the Bible are traditionally attributed to heroes of the Jewish and Christian faiths. Moses is given credit for the first five books of the Bible, most of the prophets are given credit for the books named after them, etc.
The reality is a bit messier than this, of course. Moses probably didn’t pen every word of Genesis–Deuteronomy—he died before some of the events happened! And there’s a good chance Jonah didn’t write Jonah, and Isaiah may have had some help over the centuries, and so on and so forth.
6. The Bible was written by people from diverse occupational backgrounds
But other parts of the Bible are written by farmers, fishermen, a tentmaker, homeless prophets, a doctor, a professional scribe, vocational musicians, pastors, etc.
7. The books of the Old Testament are arranged differently in Judaism
The English Bibles we use group the books of the Bible loosely by type of literature. So in the Old Testament, you have the books of law first, then books about Israel’s history in the promised land, then books of wisdom and poetry, then books by the prophets.
But the Old Testament isn’t always arranged this way. For example, in Judaism’s Hebrew Bible, the books of law come first (the Torah), followed by the former and latter prophets (a blend of prophets and history), followed by “the writings” (a blend poetry, history, and prophetic books). In this arrangement, the last book is Chronicles, not Malachi.
I’ll be docking more facts here as I keep studying and writing about the Bible. Stay tuned. =)