One of my most popular posts looks at just how long the Bible is. You can see the whole infographic here, but I want to share a little more with you, specifically:
- How I got those numbers
- How much easier it is for you to get them (hint: I’m giving you access to all the data for free!)
In case you didn’t read the infographic, here’s the gist. I counted all the words in each book of the Bible—in their original languages. I then used that information to show:
- The longest book of the Bible
- The shortest book of the Bible
- How long the Bible is compared to other long books
- Which biblical authors contributed most to the Bible
- And more
As you can imagine, I don’t have the time nor original-language knowledge to tally all these words on my own.
So I used one of Logos Bible Software‘s not-so-famous features: Word Lists. (Heads up: I’m a Logos affiliate.)
I know that a good deal of you use Logos. If so, feel free to open it up and follow along. If you don’t use Logos, you’re about to see why I do. =)
How I got book of the Bible word counts with Logos Word Lists
I’ll walk you through my process step-by-step.
Step 1: pick a Bible
I needed word counts for every book of the Bible, so the first thing I had to do was choose the text I’d be drawing from. I went with the following three Bibles:
- The NA27 Greek New Testament
- The Lexham Hebrew Bible
- The New American Standard 1995 Update (for the little slivers of Aramaic)
Obviously, you could do this using just one Bible. I made a similar list using the ESV.
Step 2: create a word list
Once I chose my Bibles, it was time to start getting word counts. First thing I did was create a new Word list. I did this by going to “Documents” …
… and then selecting “Word List” from the options.
This opened up a new Word List, which looked like this:
And of course, I chose a title.
Step 3: add text
Then I added the words from a single book of the Bible. That was easy. First, I clicked “Add.”
Then I selected the Bible I was using (let’s say the ESV for this post). This tells Logos which text to pull words from when I designate a book of the Bible.
I’ve told Logos where the words are coming from (the selected Bible) and where the words are going (the Word list). Then I just enter in a book of the Bible. Let’s say Ruth.
I click “Ruth,” and blammo—Logos pulls in every Hebrew lemma in the book of Ruth (as far as the ESV is concerned). Here’s what it looks like:
Now I have a list of every Hebrew lemma in the book of Ruth.
What’s a lemma? Good question. A lemma is a word’s dictionary form. For example, “run,” “ran,” and “running” are all different words, but if you were to look up their meanings in a dictionary, you’d look up “run.” “Run” is the lemma. Learn more about lemmas here.
Here’s where it got time-consuming: I built one Logos Word List like this for every single book of the Bible. That should probably count as another step.
Step 3b: repeat step 2 for every book of the Bible
That left me with 66 Logos Word Lists, each giving me every original-language word in a given book of the Bible. We can do all sorts of things with these lists. We could print flash cards, see which words occur most, and more.
But I wanted all the words of the Bible in a spreadsheet, so I had to take it a step further. I exported each Word List as a CSV spreadsheet. To do that, I clicked the Word List icon and selected Print/Export.
Then selected “Spreadsheet” and exported it as a CSV file.
And of course, I did this with all those books, so …
Step 4b: repeat Step 4 for every book of the Bible
Step 5: Add ’em up!
I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say I now have a spreadsheet with word counts for every single book of the Bible—in their original languages. This helped me find all kinds of cool things:
- The longest books of the Bible (by word count)
- The shortest books of the Bible
- The most prolific authors of the Bible
- The heftiest genres of the Bible
That’s just the beginning. I plan to use this spreadsheet for several more infographics and blog posts in the future. It’s a pretty awesome set of data …
I figure if you’re the kind of person interested in all this, you probably want to have all this information to play with. So here’s a CSV with word counts for every book of the Bible, plus the percentage of the Bible each book makes up. Consider it a gift from one Bible geek to another.