Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013 Which Bible Book Is the Most Popular?

As many of my readers know, on my other blog I have written and posted chapter-by-chapter summaries of the books of the Bible, up to the Gospel of John so far (plus Romans).  The geeky-cool thing about this is that I get page view stats (hits) for each of these posts, allowing me to get a feel for just how popular certain Bible books are.  I posted a previous article in February 2012 with the stats collected at that point along with possible conclusions from that data, and it was pretty interesting!  But a year and a half has passed, so it's time to take another look at the data as of now:

So, the 2013 winner of "Most Popular Old Testament Book" is Genesis!  No surprise there, right?  If you are going to start reading the Bible, you start with the first book.

What else can we gleam from the data?

Well, the huge drop of page views after Genesis possibly suggests:
  •  People loose resolve and interest in reading the Bible pretty quickly
  • Or people get demotivated from reading the Bible based on the content
  • Or people determine that summaries probably aren't the way to go, and so they go to reading the actual Bible
  • Or my summaries are poor quality, and people quickly seek out more reputable sources!  :-)
There appears to be a small, but significant uptick in views of the later minor prophets, like Micah and Zachariah.  However, that uptick is probably an illusion.  At the last data capture in 2012, I had relatively recently added those minor prophet summaries.  In fact, all of the books were added sequentially, with some lags greater than others between publishing. So from 2012 to now in 2013 is the first time block when all of the Old Testament summaries have been equally available.

It's interesting to see Exodus on basically equal footing with Leviticus, whereas before Leviticus had twice the popularity.  Exodus has the miracle-saturated redemption of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, while Leviticus is primarily just laws and commands.  I suspect Leviticus hits are driven by skeptics seeking ridiculousness and conservatives Christians trying to reign in liberal Christians, while the hits in Exodus represent more of enchantment with the myth.

I also find it interesting that the "wisdom" books of Job and Ecclesiastes both experienced a significant drop in hits.  Depending on how you look at these books, they present God, and life in general, in quite a different perspective than what most Christian pastors would have you believe.

However, the most important and revealing trend in the data is the upticks we see in the major prophets of Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.  Even some minor prophets like Hosea, Amos, and Micah in particular, show an increase in interest.  While I would like to suppose that this means more people are seeking out the truth and context of these prophesies for themselves, my gut tells me something different...

Each of those books has a common theme; they're often cited for reference when discussing God's final Judgement Day and subsequent restoration.  In fact, the little book of Micah, with its disproportionate number of hits, actually contains the phrase "last days" suggesting the end of an era.  So I suspect that this uptick in prophetic interest just indicates an increasing intensity in "the End is nigh" paranoia.

It should be interesting to see if this trend continues in another year and a half.

I will leave you with the hit could for the four Gospels.  Note that Matthew has been posted the longest, and John only recently got published, so the skew in the data is at least somewhat, if not mostly, due to its length of availability.  Cheers!


  1. Most hits on our blogs are simply do popping up on searches and not intentional reads. People rarely stay and read. So, if you'll remember my earlier posts:

    So this data may tell us nothing about reads on your site, but about search habits, keywords and much more.

  2. Oh, absolutely, Sabio! Especially with the advanced search engines providing live previews, there are undoubtedly many more "hits" than "reads".

    And, again, that was a fine series you did. :-)

  3. I also wonder if your Genesis posts were read more often because more people are familiar with the stories in it.

  4. That could be part of the reason too, PK. Good thinking. :-)

  5. I think Genesis would come up more, as people question the creation myth. Its pretty difficult not to as evolution is everywhere now days, so creationists must at least try understand their story from the biblical perspective.

  6. That's a good point, Christian. The story of creation definitely drives people to seek out Genesis, especially to compare it against evolution. Of course, I know several Christians who believe that the language used in the creation account has enough play that evolution could still have happen through God. Funny, that. :-)