The counting has been done using the New International Version of the Bible and Hodder and Stoughton's BibleMaster program. By selecting appropriate settings for the part of the Bible to be searched, counts have been made independently for the Old Testament and the New Testament. Using BibleMaster's facility for combining searches, it is possible to include in a count both the singular and plural form of a word (e.g. son and sons) and for all words beginning with the same stem.
To show how counting can produce interesting and unexpected results, the ratios of the occurrence of corresponding masculine and feminine word-pairs has been calculated for the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT). As would be expected in all cases the masculine word occurs more frequently than its feminine equivalent. But, in nearly all cases, the ratio is substantially higher in the New Testament, as shown in the table below.
One implication of this table is that the role of women in society was more prominent in Old Testament times. The differences in the ratios are very large with the one exception of the father(s)/mother(s) ratio which has a typical value on the Old Testament but an abnormally low value in the New Testament. This implies above average frequency of the word "mother" in the New Testament, probably connected with the importance of the birth of Jesus.
The same technique of counting can be applied to counting the occurrences of the ordinal numbers. Doing so reveals some interesting insights.
The number "seven" has had, since antiquity, a special significance. This is possibly because in primitive astronomy seven celestial bodies (Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) were observed to move against the background of the fixed stars. These heavenly bodies were worshipped by the ancients and in many modern languages the days of the week are named after them. The seventh son of a seventh son is a very special person! Every Muslim who makes the pilgrimage to Mecca is required to walk around the Ka'bah seven times.
In the Bible in general, the larger a number is, the less frequently it occurs - with the exception of the mystic number seven.
Another technique to reveal interesting differences between the New and the Old Testament is to compare the frequency of usage of particular words having religious connections. This has been done in the table below by assuming that the length of the Old Testament is 3.36 times the length of the New Testament. (The value of 3.36 was obtained by counting pages in the N.I.V. Bible. The small error in this crude procedure will not affect the overall conclusions).
In the table below, RATIO is the relative frequency of use of a word per page in the New Testament (NT) compared to its use in the Old Testament. (OT)
It is calculated from the formula:
RATIO = 3.36 times the NT frequency divided by the OT frequency
If RATIO is greater than 1.00, the word being considered is used more frequently (per thousand words of text) in the New Testament (NT) than in the Old Testament OT).
Note that * at the end of a word indicates any ending has been included in the count (e.g. forgiv* will include forgive, forgiveness, forgiving)
In comparing the New Testament to the Old Testament, a striking feature is that truth, love, peace, mercy and forgiveness are much more common. On the other hand war, punishment and jealousy are less common. There is the special case of the devil or satan, references to whom appear almost exclusively in the New Testament.
The analyses above are based on one particular translation and the numerical values quoted above would vary slightly for other versions of the Bible. But it is doubtful if the overall pattern would change significantly.
What has been shown is that the simple process of counting words can reveal insights and suggest questions for further investigation. This is one of the by-products of having a computerised version of the Bible.