Bible Facts and Figures

Here are some interesting facts and figures about the Bible

The books of the Bible

The word 'Bible' comes from the Greek and Latin words which mean 'books' and 'the book'. This is because the Bible is a collection of books as well as a single book.

Although Christians largely agree on the number of books in the Bible, the exact number varies from one Church tradition to another.

  • Most Protestant Christians recognise 66 books in the Bible
  • Most Catholics recognise the 66 plus 7 deuterocanonical books, bringing the total to 73 books
  • Greek Orthodox Bible has 75 books
  • Ethiopian Orthodox Christians recognise 81 books in the Bible

Writing of the Bible

The Bible was initially spoken and then written over about 1300 years, roughly between 1200 and 100 AD.

The books were written in what is now Israel and Palestine, Egypt and different parts of the then Roman Empire.

There were over 40 writers of the Bible, including scribes, fishermen, kings, royal officials, prophets, musicians, secretaries and poets as well as the odd doctor or tree-surgeon.

The Bible contains many different types of documents: poetry, legal documents, songs, letters, eyewitness accounts, people stories, historical documents and advice material.

The Bible and languages

Originally, some of the Bible was written in Hebrew, some in Aramaic and some in Greek. Today, about 2,500 of the world’s 7000+languages have part of the Bible translated into them.

  • The entire Bible is available in at least 426 languages
  • The New Testament is available in 1,115 languages

However, over 4,500 languages still wait for even one book of the Bible. This means millions either have no access to the Bible at all or can only encounter it in something other than their ‘heart’ language.

The process of producing a translation of the Bible is slow, difficult and lengthy. Recently, computer-aided programmes have now reduced the time involved.

Bibles printed and sold

The Bible is by far the best-selling book of all time. However, no one can be absolutely sure exactly how many copies have been printed, sold or distributed.

Bible Society’s attempt to calculate the number printed between 1816 and 1975 produced the figure of 2,458,000,000 – almost 2 and a half billion.

Another survey, for the years up to 1992, put it closer to 6 billion.

The Bible is the most shop-lifted book in the world.

Well known phrases from the Bible (King James Version)

  • All things to all men
  • The blind leading the blind
  • Can a leopard change its spots?
  • A fly in the ointment
  • The writing on the wall

Other Bible facts

  • About 50 Bibles are sold every minute.
  • A shepherd boy discovered old clay jars in a cave by the Dead Sea in 1947. The old jars contained dusty scrolls, which turned out to include ancient copies of the Old Testament.
  • The oldest parable in the Bible is in Judges 9:8-15.
  • The New Testament contains more than 260 Old Testament quotations, the majority from the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible.
  • The shortest book in the New Testament is 2 John with 13 verses.
  • The longest book in the New Testament is Acts. It has 28 chapters. Matthew also has 28 chapters, but it is shorter.
  • The New Testament has about 8,000 verses.
  • The word Christian is first mentioned in the Bible in Acts 11:26. The word Christian is found in only two other places in the Bible: Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16.
  • The shortest Old Testament book is Obadiah. It has 1 chapter with 21 verses.
  • The shortest verse in the Old Testament is 1 Chronicles 1:25.
  • The Old Testament has more than 60 passages which Christians believe are prophecies of Jesus.
  • 'Do not be afraid' appears around 365 times in the Bible (depending on the translation, of course).
  • A popular translation of The Bible contains around 774,000 words (depending on the version). It would take you approximately 70 hours to read the whole Bible out loud.

With many thanks to Bible Society for these facts and figures. For more information like this on the Bible and its history you may be interested to read the 'Bible Style Guide'. This was a document originally produced by Bible Society to help inform journalists about the Bible, but we think it is an excellent resource for a wider audience. You can download it from the Related downloads section.

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