The World’s Most Widely Distributed Book
“The Bible is the most widely read book in history. . . . More copies have been distributed of the Bible than of any other book. The Bible has also been translated more times, and into more languages, than any other book.”—“The World Book Encyclopedia.”1
IN SOME respects, most books are like people. They appear on the scene, may grow in popularity, and—except for a handful of classics—become old and die. Libraries often serve as cemeteries for countless books that are obsolete, unread and, in effect, dead.
The Bible, however, is exceptional even among classical works. Although its written origins go back 3,500 years, it is still very much alive. It is by far the most widely circulated book on earth.a Each year, some 60 million copies of the entire Bible or portions of it are distributed. The first edition printed from movable type came off the printing press of the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg about 1455. Since then an estimated four billion Bibles (the whole or in part) have been printed. No other book, religious or otherwise, even comes close.
The Bible is also the most widely translated book in history. The complete Bible or portions of it have been translated into more than 2,100 languages and dialects.b Over 90 percent of the human family have access to at least part of the Bible in their own language.2 This book has thus crossed national boundaries and transcended racial and ethnic barriers.
Statistics alone may not provide a compelling reason for you to examine the Bible. Nevertheless, the circulation and translation figures are impressive, testifying to the Bible’s universal appeal. Surely the best-selling and most widely translated book in all human history is worthy of your consideration.
a The next most widely distributed publication is thought to be the red-covered booklet Quotations From the Works of Mao Tse-tung, of which an estimated 800 million copies have been sold or distributed.
b Statistics regarding the number of languages are based on figures published by the United Bible Societies.
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Gutenberg Bible, in Latin, the first complete book printed from movable type