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Friday, November 09, 2007

Reading Levels at Amazon

Many thanks to the ESV Bible Blog for joining the conversation on reading level statistics. They have posted a chart representing reading level statistics from Amazon. I am unsurprised to see that the King James Version has less complex sentence structure than most other translations.

It is a good bit of fun to compare the stats provided by the ESV blog with those found here. Just as you don't want to read only one Bible translation, you also don't want to read only one set of reading level statistics.

On the ESV chart, which displays statistics generated by, the order of reading level from high to low is NRSV, ESV, KJV. On the chart supplied at the order is KJV, NRSV, ESV.


At Fri Nov 09, 10:21:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Interesting post, Suzanne. Thanks. And thanks for keeping this blog going while Elena and I are helping her parents transition to a nursing home. We hope to return home toward the end of next week.

It would have been nice if the chart would have included stats on Bible versions which are even more idiomatic, such as CEV, TEV, NCV.

At Fri Nov 09, 11:01:00 PM, Blogger J. K. Gayle said...

Welcome back to the blogging, Wayne. Sounds as if you all are having a good time doing a good thing all together.

Suzanne, I'd love to hear John Hobbins comment on the assumptions here. First, reading level assumes that the original-language Bible texts are flat stylistically or have across-the-whole simply ONE reading level. Second, when it comes to translations, such as ESV and those others charted, "reading level" assumes qualities in English lexis (and, horrors, in English textual mechanics such as "syllable" in alphabet) that flatten the entire Bible on the SINGLE level. John puts it so much better when he says:

"The Bibles currently used in those settings in my congregation (for the record, NIV, etc.) tend to simplify the diction of the original language texts and under-represent their literary qualities." Of course, John here, wasn't talking about reading level per se at all. But he makes some great points about varied literary qualitieS within the textS we reduce to THE Bible.


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