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Length of the Apocrypha

Length of the Apocrypha

I’ve started preparing a 7-week study on the Apocrypha/deuterocanonical books that we’ll (hopefully) go through sometime next spring. Bruce Metzger had a fantastic, 268-page treatment of the subject that Oxford is offering for the price of your firstborn or other valuable offspring. Fortunately, used options are significantly cheaper.

In that volume, Metzger compares the length of the Apocrypha to the length of the Old Testament and New Testament, with results that look like this:

KJV (Metzger, p. 4) Words
Old Testament 592,439
New Testament 181,253
Apocrypha 152,185

That, of course, immediately struck me as interesting and I wondered what the comparison of a modern translation would look like. So I took the NRSV (1989) and did a similar comparison.

NRSV (Bibleworks) Words
Old Testament 569,174
New Testament 176,424
Apocrypha 161,466

So, whether it’s the KJV or NRSV, the Apocrypha is roughly the length of the New Testament:


That said 44% of the apocrypha (70,817 words) are housed in just three books: Sirach, 2 Esdras and 1 Maccabees.


Lots to explore!