Suzanne recently posted on Bible version reading levels. Here is a followup guest post by English teacher Tim Carr:
I looked at that chart which the ESV Blog has recently posted. And it has been mentioned on your site also. I’m speaking of Bible Text Stats. I thought I would summarize only some of the info which I find interesting. First the syllables per word category. I was stunned that the KJV, ESV, NASB all had only a 1.3 average. More amazingly the NIrV was in this group. The NLT, NIV, NRSV, HCSB, and NKJ all were in the 1.4 range. ( BTW, I am not sure if the NLT is the 96′ or 04′ version ).
I’ll go from highest to lowest in the next two categories. And I will only reference 8 versions.
This section reflects how many sentences were used.
1) NIrV– 95,999 –That was no surprise. That version is thick !
2) NLT — 52,787– I like that amount of sentences. Not too many and yet not too few.
3)HCSB–46,394– That’s better than the mid to low 30’s.
4) NIV — 39,873– If it’s almost the same as the TNIV, then the number of sentences need to increase.
5) ESV— 36,457 — Too few.
6) NKJ — 34,837 — Ditto the above.
7) NRSV -34,217 –Same
8) NASB -33,224 — The rankings of 5-8 are within 3,233 sentences.
1) NIrV — -873,450 — That’s too many for a person of average or above average reading ability. But, I like some of the wording.
2) HCSB -872,271 — Is that surprising or what ? It came so close to the range of the NIrV.
3) ESV –804,566 —
4) NKJ — 803,611 —
5) NASB -784,841 —
6) NLT –782,244 —
7) NRSV -780,660–
8) NIV –741,065 —
I’m not sure how to react to this data. The number of words alone doesn’t mirror the reading level. But I like thinner Bibles! Did you notice that the NRSV came in 7th place twice ? We knew that the NIrV would rank as it does.
Words per sentence
1) NASB — 23.6
2) NKJ — 23.1
3) NRSV —22.8
4) ESV —–22.1
6) NIV ——-18.6
7) NLT ——-14.8
8) NIrV ——–9.1
I think being in the mid-teen range is ideal. So the NLT gets my vote. Translations 1 through 4 are too wordy. These versions need to reduce the number of words per sentence so texts will read more smoothly.