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Episcopalians in Minnesota count number of words spoken by women in the Bible

Book cover for Bible Women, depicting women talking in close-up with a stain-glass motif/style

Episcopalians in Minnesota count number of words spoken by women in the Bible

A recent book by the Rev. Lindsay Hardin Freeman catalogs the words spoken by women in the Bible. The book, Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter, is the result of 3 years of research by Freeman and her collaborators, a fellow priest, a librarian and a high school student.

The group studied dozens of books on women in the Bible but couldn’t find any quantification of the number of words, the speakers, or much analysis of the content. Most work focused on the actions and repercussions of their actions. They reached their tally by manually counting and storing the words and their speakers in spreadsheets, which Freeman used as a resource for her book.

The book has received two awards since its publication. Illumination Book Awards recognized it with a gold medal and Independent Publishers awarded top honors for Bible study books.

A local paper, the Star Tribune, provides highlights from their research, and the total word count: 14,000 words by 93 women, 49 of them named.

From the article:

• Judith, who murders an enemy general in the Book of Judith, gets the most ink with 2,689 words. She’s followed by the Shulamite woman in the Song of Solomon, with 1,425 words, and Esther, with 1,207 words.

• High-profile women don’t fare as well. Mary, the mother of Jesus, utters all of 191 words. Mary Magdalene says 61. Sarah, the wife of Abraham, gets 141.

• The Samaritan woman, who has the longest recorded conversation with Jesus in the Bible, speaks all of 151 words.

The book, printed by Forward Movement and supported by a grant from Episcopal Church Women, is available for purchase from Forward Movement and other book sellers. The author and researchers plan to release a Jeopardy-style board game next.

Have you tried to find a resource on Biblical women and their words? What other resources have you used to learn the stories of women in the Bible?

Posted by David Streever

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