How Many Words are in the Bible?

Allison Dexter

People look at the Bible in different ways. Christians see the Bible as the Word of God. Other people see the Bible as just a historical text. Whatever your personal belief, the Bible is a controversial text. Its origins and religious significance are subjects of debate.

Depending on the version of the Bible, word count can vary quite a bit
Depending on the version of the Bible, word count can vary quite a bit.

Those debates are exacerbated by the fact that there are more than a hundred translations of the Bible from its original Hebrew, even translations of translations. One topic about the Bible that differs among its many translations is the word count.

King James Version

If you look at how many words are in the Bible, the answer varies depending on which version of the Bible you look at and who you ask. One popular version of the Bible is the King James Version. How many words are in the King James Bible? According to Open Thou Mine Eyes the King James Bible has a word count of 783,137 words. However, another source, Bible Believers, states that the 1611 King James Bible has a word count of 788,280 words. The King James Bible is the oldest version of the text, and as changes occurred in subsequent editions it is no wonder that sources report different word counts.

Other Bible Versions

The same is true for other versions of the Bible. The website Open Thou Mine Eyes lists the New International Version as having a word count of either 727,969 words or 726,109 words, the English Standard Version having 757,439 words and the New American Standard Bible 782,815 words. Another source states that the New American Standard Bible has 807,36110 words. Also, there are hundreds of translations of the Bible into other languages as well, each with different word counts. Here are the word counts for the some of most common versions of the Bible:

  • The King James Bible: 783,137 words.

  • New King James Bible: 770,430 words.

  • The New International Bible (NIV): 727,969 words.

  • English Standard Version (ESV): 757,439 words.

  • New American Standard Bible (NASB): 782,815 words.

Why does the word count vary among different versions of the Bible? The King James Version was released in 1611 and is the oldest version of the Bible still being used today. The New International Bible and the English Standard Bible are modern versions that, according to a few sources, have removed verses and words found in the King James Bible. If you're curious check out the website Bible Believers for a more details regarding the versions that have been changed or contain ommisions.

Words per Page

Another area where each version of the Bible varies considerably is in how many words per page. A large-print Bible has fewer words per page than a Bible with smaller print. The physical dimensions are also a factor. There are millions of Bibles in print. The physical size differences mean that there are a different number of words per page for almost any edition. It’s all down to how the publisher prints the final product that will be put on store bookshelves.

Comparison to Other Print Formats

How does the number of words in the Bible stack up to other texts? Let's look at how a novel compares to the Bible. A typical novel has around 80,000 to 109,000 words as we mentioned before in our article on how many words are in a novel. That is around 1/8th of the word count in the King James Bible, New International Version or New American Standard Version. Regardless of the version, it's safe to say the Bible is usually longer than most commercial novels.

One such exception is the Harry Potter series. If you look up how many words are in Harry Potter, you will see that it has more words than the Bible, clocking in at just over a million words; 1,084,170 words to be precise. That is a 28% increase from the word count in the King James Bible. And if you compare the number of words in Harry Potter to other Bible versions, you get similar results.

Overall, it is difficult to pin down exactly how many words the Bible had when it was written in its original Hebrew language. The many translations of the text all have different word counts. This is due to differences in language as well as the omission of obsolete words in modern versions.