hAPAX LEGOMENA revisited

From: McKay family (music@fl.net.au)
Date: Sun Aug 03 1997 - 09:36:08 EDT

4th August, 1997
Two weeks ago I tried to work out which NT books are easiest and hardest
to read based on the number of rare words they contain. My computations
were "quick and dirty" and not very reliable.

I have since figured out a way to use the BibleWorks program, Micro$oft
Word and Excel to get more accurate figures.

I have made 2 lists, based on ratio of hAPAX LEGOMENA to total words in
a book, and also the ratio of words that occur 3 times or less in the NT
to total words in a book. [I chose 3 times or less because I remembered
that Metzger said that more than half the words in the NT occur 3 times
or less.]

Before I give you my results, I thought you might be interested in a few
statistics I came across on the way:

Luke and Acts make 28% of the NT. The Pauline corpus is 24%. If John
wrote the gospel, epistles and Revelation, he wrote 21% of the NT; if he
did not write Revelation, but only the gospel and epistles, he is pared
back to 13%.Matthew takes up 12% of the total words in the NT.

There are about 1550 hAPAX in the NT, and 4022 words that occur 3 times
or less. However, if you learn just 26 words, you can read half of the
words in the NT. [Psst! Don't tell the newbies that this is not taking
account of parsing and conjugating!]

Of course, being able to read KAI and DE, etc will not really help you
to actually read the NT, but if you learn 200 words, you certainly
could, because you would be able to read 75% of the NT. [I got these
figures from James Tauber's website. It doesn't look like it, but James
is an Aussie,too!]

So here are the books in order of supposed difficulty:

by highest hAPAX by highest 3 words or less
2 Peter 2 Peter
Titus 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus
1 Timothy 2 Timothy
Jude James
1 Peter Jude
James 1 Peter
Hebrews Hebrews
Colossians Philippians
Philippians Acts
Acts 2 Corinthians
Philemon Ephesians
2 Corinthians Colossians
1 Thessalonians Philemon
Romans 2 Thessalonians
Galatians Romans
Ephesians Galatians
Luke Luke
1 Corinthians 1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians 1 Corinthians
3 John Matthew
Revelation Mark
Mark Revelation
Matthew John
2 John 3 John
John 2 John
1 John 1 John

The correlation between the two columns, is interesting, don't you

However, would you agree that a larger book, with many rare words, is
more formidable than a short one, whatever statistics may say?

David McKay

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