If one were to put together all the words that are recorded to come out of Jesus' mouth in the New Testament, for how long would such collection of speeches amount to?

Naturally, the answer depends on:

  • the speed at which Jesus spoke, which we do not know. Yet, self-description of Jesus as "gentle" (Matthew 11:29), and perhaps influence of classical movies about Jesus might incline us to assume he spoke slower than a normal person would do, particularly when preaching.

  • how the translation of words from Aramaic (Jesus main spoken language) to the original Greek of the gospels, and then latter to Latin (Jerome) and English are inflated. This is, the ratio of words between Aramaic and e.g. English, for an original phrase of Jesus). (we also know Jesus spoke Hebrew and perhaps Latin).

  • whether to consider duplicates or not (e.g. same parable in different gospels). Surely having two metrics, one with and one without is informative. I would be satisfied however with a metric that does include duplicates.

  • maybe there are other issues to be considered, but those are the ones I can think of.

Thus, in my view, a transparent and satisfactory calculation would include the number of words (mainly) in Aramaic that Jesus pronounced, and adjust this by the ratio of works from Aramaic and English, and then assume a certain words per minute metric, from where we could produce a final amount of minutes/hours Jesus speaks in the New Testament.

Are you aware of any such calculation? My search of phrases like "for how long did Jesus speak" or "hours of jesus speech gospels", or etc gives me nothing.

  • how would you handle duplications and close duplications with minor variation between the gospel accounts? It would be possible to put an upper bound on this question, but getting an accurate figure would require more parameters. Sep 25, 2017 at 7:33
  • @bruisedreed Accuracy is of course impossible. But an approximate idea would be sufficient. 10 hours versus 20 hours are quite different numbers imo.
    – luchonacho
    Sep 25, 2017 at 7:35
  • In that case, then you need to address the question I put to you as there are four gospels which include a significant amount of duplication. Sep 25, 2017 at 7:57
  • @bruisedreed Updated. Either is fine with me. The more information the better. Regarding the primarily-opinion based, the exists an answer which is purely technical, given explicit assumptions. So a precise answer is not opinion-based. Of course, as with every question, it could get opinion-based answers. But that is not a problem of the question.
    – luchonacho
    Sep 25, 2017 at 12:19
  • Downvoters, please explain. This is a perfectly answerable question.
    – luchonacho
    Sep 25, 2017 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


Here is a rough estimate for you:

  • Audio Bibles are typically 75-85 hours in length, but the gospels collectively constitue approximately 10% of the total word count of the entire Bible.
  • There is a small amount of additional words of Jesus that are found elsewhere in the New Testament but they do not change the overally percentage too much to warrant confurther consideration (less than additional 1% of the total word count of the entire Bible).
  • The percentage of each gospel that is actually Jesus speaking varies significantly, but an overall rough percentage of 50% is a rough figure suitable for this sort of estimate.
  • Assume duplication between the gospels and other comparative issues are irrelevant (by the way the duplication issue would be a more significant issue than the issue you've identified of difference in language lengths which is completely unknowable to us anyway).

Given the above, then roughly 5% of the length of an average audio bible is not an unreasonalbe estimate - ie approximately 4 hours.

  • 50% of the gospel is Jesus speaking? Do you have a source for that? Sounds too high for me.
    – luchonacho
    Sep 25, 2017 at 12:19

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