I have many times heard the claim that only very few people who identify themselves as Christians have actually read all or most of the Bible.

  • Have there been any studies to approximate the percentage of Christians who have read the Bible? I have found several numbers, but none of them cite any reliable sources.
  • Are there any significant differences between denominations?
  • You might want to start with "how many people have read the Bible in its entirety?" Then you could try to figure out what percentage of those identify themselves as Christians.
    – styfle
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 4:34
  • 4
    Put me down has a yes, I've read the entire Bible. That's one.
    – Narnian
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 13:24
  • 6
    "Not enough" :) In all seriousness, is there a way to do a poll within the Christianity.SE framework? I mean, I'm a yes, and certainly this is a biased, self-selected group of Christian geeks, but even on this site, I think it would be interesting to find out the correlation of self-identified Christian and 100% Bible Reader. (Ideally, we'd also have a bronze badge for that fact too..) Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 15:34
  • I've never read the whole Bible but I read everything but Jeremiah and Sirach, and then I listened to those on tape, does that count? Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 17:06
  • Do we get a point for each time we've read it? Or just one point whether we've read it one or many times? Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 21:21

2 Answers 2


Catholics who attend daily Mass for 3 years will have read through the entire Bible, or at least enough to disqualify themselves for St. Jerome to count them among the ignorant of Christ.

Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ

St. Jerome (famous bible translator)

I won't attempt to extrapolate numbers that don't exist, but you might as well assume the number is non-negligible, but probably no more than 3% in North (of Mexico) America and Europe.

Personally, I don't go to Mass every day any more because of work, commute and family, but I did read the whole Bible when I was a telerelay operator and had the time.

  • Note: 1. This has only been true for the past 50 years. 2. If you compare all of the passages, you will notice that certain passages may be omitted and some are definitely omitted. Most of the time, however, this is because they are a literal word-for-word repeat of some other passage (I believe the requirements for a deacon only appear once while they appear twice in the New Testament). Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 16:52
  • @cwallenpool prior to translations in the vernacular, people probably read more of the bible since A.) Mass attendance was higher, in percentage at least and B.) AFAIK people often had their own copies of the Roman Missal that they'd read along with the Mass readings. But yeah, the readings are cut up in precise ways, mainly to join the OT message to the Gospel reading or to adapt the reading to the day's feast.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 17:07
  • The Roman Missale prior to VAII does not include all of the Gospels, let alone all of the Bible (and if you ever find a sedevacantist, this is one place where the new way far outshines the old in my opinion). As to Bible reading, that is doubtful as there is a strong history of prayer apart from study of the Bible (and considering literacy rates of the past 2000 years, that is far from shocking -- you don't need to read to be able to pray the Rosary). They may have had missales, but "reading the whole Bible" would have been practically unheard of. Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 17:22
  • Wow, that's totally true, still, I doubt they were any more ignorant then. And that's just Mass readings from the Lectionary, not including Liturgy of the Hours and the parts of Mass which are only becoming visible now given the new translation.
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 17:40
  • I actually am a daily communicant and do the full office, but there are still things which I miss, even in a full three year cycle. Psalm 110:6, and 137:9 come to mind. (Sad but true) Commented Dec 12, 2011 at 19:33

According to the Barna research group:

  • 20% of Americans (USA) claim to have read the whole Bible
  • 61% of Evangelical Americans (USA) claim to have read the whole Bible

To be honest this is a lot more than I expected!

(These numbers are based on a random sample with a probable maximum error of ±2.8%.)

  • That's actually pretty impressive. It's a long book. Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 17:51
  • Keyword being claim. I'm sorry, but I just don't believe those claims reflect reality, even with the margin of error. 1 out of every 5 people you meet on the street have read the whole bible? Over half the people you meet in any local church have read the whole bible? I think that poll just shows that people think they do more than they actually do.
    – LCIII
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 12:34
  • Sure, but flawed as they may be, these might be the best stats available.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 22:37

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .