Bible Endtime Popularity

This post belongs to my “Web Popularity of Bible Books” series.  Below are two graphs showing the popularity of the books of both the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) as found on the web.

The first thing to notice in these graphs is the outliers:  In the Old Testament they are Genesis & Daniel.  In the New Testament they are Acts and Revelations.  In my next posts I will remove these outliers to reveal patterns which they obscure.  But for now, let’s think about the outliers.  In statistics, outliers are handled in many different ways and can tell us a lot.  So let me speculate on these outliers.

Genesis is an outlier because it is the Origin Myth of the Hebrews and thus widely read.  Acts is merely an accident of my search method:  I searched using the phrase “book of ______”  and “Acts”, in English, is actually called the “book of Acts” so I imagine that pages containing that exact phrase were disproportionately more common.  What do you think?

But two outliers, the  Old Testament Daniel and the New Testament Revelation, are both end-time prophecy texts.  I was surprised to find these by-far the most popular Bible pages on the web.  This illustrates one of the negative aspects of Christian ideology: fixation on apocalyptic catastrophe and judgement predominates Bible web pages.

Question to readers: Is it just Christians web-writers that are obsessed with the end times, or does this accurately reflect most Christian obsession?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

5 responses to “Bible Endtime Popularity

  1. Earnest

    Great concept. As a pathetic aimless centrist Christian I would guess that those who are obsessed with correct belief are more likely to blog and more likely to try to use impending disasters to scare wavering believers into line.

    I’m disappointed that the Book of Job, which I consider perhaps the most important book in the OT, got less hits than the stupefyingly boring Numbers. I can’t explain other people’s tastes in Bible verse.

  2. @ Earnest
    “Centrist”? Really? You are at the tail-end of some curve, and in the center of none. Smile! [ps, readers, Earnest is a local buddy]

    I think you are right that Christians who blog (as well as Atheists who blog or Buddhists who blog] have unique qualities in and of themselves. For blogging Christians, I wager they fall into tri-modal distribution at the least: (1) Help the poor (2) Salvation & Healing (3) Damnation & Judgement.

    If you look at my OT popularity post, Job does better than half. Way better than most the prophets!

    I think the “Numbers” thing is also just an anomoly of my poor method. “Book of Numbers” may generate lots of hits besides Bible stuff. For example, “Bill Board Book of Numbers” has > million hits.

    Oh well, it was a fun fishing expedition.

  3. Ha! Your question to the readers echos the possible data problem I just commented on in your first post. Nice!

    Acts is a real surprise to me, as well, but I think you are right that it may be the search itself which turns up a lot of irrelevant hits, like the book of Numbers. You’ve got acts in plays, and plays are often published in books, so there is a possible cross-over there. And the inherent flexibility of the title, the book of Acts, any web-writer could snag for themselves as a diary of their own actions, or that of fictitious characters.

    The obsession with Revelation can be no other than the fascination with the end-time prophesy.

    Daniel, however, is slightly multifaceted. You’ve got Daniel thrown in the furnace and thrown into the lions’ den, and Belshazzar seeing the handwriting on the wall, all of which have spawned expressions in our vernacular. You’ve got Jesus referencing Daniel’s prophesy of the seventy-sevens in Matthew 24:15. You’ve got Daniel’s prophesy of the powerful goat, regarding the epic conquest of Alexander the Great, which is often cited as proof of the historical accuracy of Biblical prophesy (despite there being evidence suggesting that it was written after the fact). And then you also have the fantastic apocalyptic visions, which the author of Revelation borrowed and tweaked.

  4. I agree that Revelation is the favourite child of end-time prophets. Acts may be down to particular ways of referring to the book, but it’s also a real favourite of a certain kind of Charismatic Evangelical who believes that the early church was the only true expression of religion and everything since then has strayed from that ideal.

    People like this tend to see Acts as prescriptive, rather than descriptive, and in the case of any dispute on church governance will refer to the Book of Acts as the manual on running a church. So it’s not inconceivable that Acts gets a disproportionate amount of attention.

  5. @ TWF:
    Interesting — Daniel offers us lots of stuff. I must re-read it again.

    @ Recovering Agnostic:
    Interesting about “The Book of Acts” being a favorite of Charismatics — you may have something there. Searching for +”the book of Acts” +”tongues” yields 3,030,000 hits!
    Acts is prescriptive. Good points. (I am an ex-Charismatic)

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