Saturday, 30 May 2009

This is starting to push the bounds of usefulness, I realise, but I applied the same analysis of the most readable verses to chapters.

By the time you get to reading chapters, you need a lot of words, and it is unlikely you are going to worry about having to look up a few in the lexicon. So I realise this is artificial, but still, here are the results. The most readable chapters in the NT are:

* John 17 (the 'High Priestly Prayer' of Jesus before his arrest).

* John 16

* Rev 15 (not surprising - a very short chapter about the seven plagues).

* Rom 14

* 1 John 1 (the start of a book - many of the simplest chapters start books, as much of the language is formulaic - 1 John 1 is also very short).

Now, the thing that is most surprising about this list is just how far John 17 is ahead of the others. It it not a particularly short chapter, but is highly repetitious, and scores only 1000. John 16, coming in second, scores 2216, and then there is another gap before we get lots of chapters around the 3000 mark.

Reading through the greek of John 17, it is remarkably simple.

I think there's probably very little information in the result (no speculating that it was written by a different hand or anything like that), but I do find it interesting. And it is useful to now have a list of chapters that are pretty easy to read and that (importantly) any words I don't already know will be as useful as possible for my future reading.

FYI, the top 20 with scores are:

PositionDifficulty ScoreChapter
11000John 17
22216John 16
32753Rev 15
42893Rom 14
530331John 1
630331John 3
73096John 1
83191Rev 11
93211Rev 17
103314Matt 20
1134171John 2
1234171John 4
1334242Cor 5
1434312Thes 2
153478Rom 5
163563Matt 10
173580Matt 7
183696Rom 6
193781Matt 28
203966Rev 1


  1. J. P. van de Giessen said...
    A great weblog
    Anonymous said...
    Thanks for this. Very helpful. We've noted it on our blog.
    Levi said...
    yeah, this is really cool. I very much enjoy your blog. Thank you!
    Anonymous said...
    Great stuff. I suggest you expand your readability equation to include syntax. For example, John 17 has several "hina" clauses, requiring the subjunctive. Perhaps you could assign parsing values for nouns and verbs, for example 1 point for indicative, 2 for participle, 3 for inf 4 for subjunctive, 5 for optatitive; 1 for present tense, 2 for future, 3 for aorist, 4 for perfect, 5 for imperfect; 1 for active, 2 for passive, 3 for middle, 4 for deponent; etc. Or a point value for number of words in a sentence, number of clauses, etc. Other difficulty points for unusual word order, information that must be supplied from context or presuppositional information.

    I think a combined score would be more helpful.
    Ian said...

    Yes, absolutely. This is very sketchy. What I've been wanting to do is to perform the calculation based on statistics again. So rather than assigning scores, use a statistical analysis of the grammatical categories in the NT to come up with those.

    I've done the latter bit, but not turned it into scores yet. As well as for chapters, I'm aiming to do it with pericopes in the gospels. So that should be a really sound list then.

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