The Bible isn’t called the Book of books without just cause. Here are twenty interesting facts about the Bible:
- The Bible is the world’s best-selling book of all time and the best-selling book of the year, every year! Fifty Bibles are sold every minute. It’s never shown on the best seller lists because it dwarfs the sales of all other books.
- The Bible was written over the course of 1,500 years (beginning in about 1,400 B.C.) by more than 40 individuals, from many backgrounds (prophets, fishermen, kings, philosophers, scholars, poets), who lived in 10 different countries on three continents (Asia, Africa, Europe), writing in one of three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek) about God and His interaction with 2,930 different characters from more than 1,550 different places.
- Worldwide, there are 80,000+ versions of the Bible with full Bibles in 530+ languages and portions of the Bible in about 2,900 languages. A full Bible translation in a person’s native/heart language is available for 70% of the world’s population. In whole or in part, the Bible is accessible to 98% of the world’s population in a language in which they are fluent. Bible translation continues to be a major undertaking by the United Bible Societies, Wycliffe and many other agencies.
- After three years of constant printing, the 1454 Gutenberg Bible (Latin) was the first book to be printed on a movable metal type printing press (China invented woodblock printed books during the Tang Dynasty). Johannes Gutenberg, after whom the Bible is named, printed about 180 copies without any printing errors (major parts of 48 copies exist today).
- There are about 900 printed English versions of the Bible (complete and incomplete translations and paraphrases). The first hand-written English manuscripts were written by John Wycliffe, translated from the Vulgate (Latin) in the 1380’s A.D. In 1525-1526 the Tyndale New Testament became the first printed English edition of the Scriptures (2 known copies exist today). The first English translation of the entire Bible was published by Miles Coverdale in 1535.
- The King James Version (KJV) is the most popular English Bible (first edition published in 1611). The New International Version (NIV) is the second most popular English Bible (New Testament first published in 1973 and the full Bible in 1978). Worldwide, the NIV outranks the KJV as the best-selling Bible translation.
- The least popular Bible is the Coptic translation of the New Testament by David Wilkins. Since 1791 when it was first published, it has never sold more than 2 copies a year.
- The 1631 edition of the KJV was named the Wicked Bible because the word “not” was omitted from Exodus 20:14. This changed the 7th Commandment to, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” When the error was discovered the copies were recalled and destroyed (11 copies exist today). The 1716 edition of the KJV was named the Sin On Bible because the printer accidentally inverted the ‘n’ and the ‘o’ in ‘on’ of John 8:11, so it read, “Go and sin on more”.
- Between 1815 and 1975 an estimated 2.5 billion Bibles were distributed with more than 100 million new Bibles printed every year since, making a staggering total of 7.5 billion in print (one copy for every person!).
- The Gideons, founded in 1899, distribute about one million Bibles, free of charge, every week (about two copies every second). By 2015 the Gideons will have placed 2 billion Bibles and New Testaments in schools, hotels, prisons, hospitals and among the military.
- Sadly, for merchants, in some cities in the USA, the most shoplifted book is the Bible! Happily, for the Gideons, thousands of their Bibles are stolen from hotels!
- The usage of online Bibles continues to increase. In 2014 Bible Gateway had 1.5 billion page views by more than 150 million unique visitors. The YouVersion Bible App offers more than 1,000 translations of the Bible and has been downloaded more than 150 million times. The Bible.is App offers the Bible in full or in part in more than 1600 languages.
- Surprisingly, the largest Bible factory in the world is a Communist government sanctioned NGO – the Amity Bible Printing Company in Nanjing, China. An atheist, Trevor McKendrick, makes $100K a year selling a Spanish Bible App!
- It takes 70 hours to read the whole Bible aloud (at “pulpit rate”). Reading the Bible silently with an average reading speed of 250-300 words a minute takes 54 hours. People who can read 800 words a minute can read the Bible in a day. If you’re short on time, read Philemon, it only takes a minute!
- There are hundreds of Bibles purposed for hundreds of niche markets. The Way features psychedelic lettering, Revolve looks like a girls glossy magazine, and Divine Health has comments from Don Colbert, the author of What Would Jesus Eat. The Outdoor Bible is printed on plastic sheets that fold up like maps, Psalty’s Kids Bible features Psalty the Singing Songbook, and the Soul Surfer Bible has notes by Bethany Hamilton, the surfer who lost her arm to a shark.
- The 2011 St. John’s Bible produced by British calligrapher Donald Jackson and a team of calligraphers is the first hand-written hand-illuminated Bible since the invention of the printing press. It cost $8 million and took 12 years to complete.
- The smallest Bible in the world is the New Testament Jerusalem Nano Bible, a chip measuring 4.76 mm. It can only be read with a microscope because each letter is 18 millionths of a metre wide!
- The Devils Bible (Codex Gigas – English for Giant Book), so named because of a large illustration of the devil, is the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world. It weighs 78.4 kg (165 lb), is 92 cm (36 in) tall and is allegedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys.
- The largest Bible in the world is the 1930 Waynai Bible (pictured). It weighs 496 kg (1094 lb), is 110.49 cm (43.5 in) tall, and 248.92 cm (98 in) wide. For moving purposes it can be disassembled into 31 sections.
- There are many fascinating details in the Bible – like the man who walked around naked for three years (cf. Isaiah 20:2-3), a bed that was 4.1 m (13.5 ft) long and 1.8 m (6 ft) wide (cf. Deuteronomy 3:11), a man’s hair that weighed 2.83 kg (6.25 lb) when it was cut every year (cf. 2 Samuel 14:26), and, there’s no mention of the domestic cat (sheep are the most frequently mentioned animals).
And a bonus short animation from the Digital Bible Society that charts the history of the spoken and written Word of God from tablets to digital:
Please share additional interesting facts about the Bible …
© Scripture Union Canada 2015