Stichometry in the New Testament
Stichometrie im Neuen Testament DE

Every speech must be put together like a living creature, with a body of its own;
it must be neither without head nor without legs;
and it must have a middle and extremities
that are fitting both to one another and to the whole in the written work. (Plato)[1]
A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end. (Aristotle)[2]

Discover the New Testament from a new perspective:

Each of its books is structured carefully, as was expected of ancient authors. They measured the size of prose texts exactly according to a standard line (stichos). With this method they were able to define the proportions of a book in advance.

We attempt to trace the original disposition of the author as far as possible. Starting point in each case is a thorough and detailed analysis of the book’s content. Then the number of lines is registered for each paragraph, each part and the whole of the book. Next we ask: What is the relation between the size of a book and the size of its parts? The mathematical structures very often turn out to be astonishingly simple.

The results of this structuring and counting are displayed for each book in table form. For two books, the Gospel of Mark and Ephesians, the Greek texts are added. They are partitioned into stichos lines and then subdivided into units of different levels. Thus the way from the text to the structuring table can be demonstrated by an example.

Now, enjoy a tour of discovery through the New Testament!

Friedrich G. Lang

[1] Plato, Phaidros 264C:
Δεῖν πάντα λόγον ὥσπερ ζῷον συνεστάναι σῶμά τι ἔχοντα αὐτὸν αὑτοῦ,
ὥστε μήτε ἀκέφαλον εἶναι μήτε ἄπουν,
ἀλλὰ μέσα τε ἔχειν καὶ ἄκρα,
πρέποντα ἀλλήλοις καὶ τῷ ὅλῳ γεγραμμένα.
[2] Aristotle, Poetics 7,3:
Ὅλον δέ ἐστιν τὸ ἔχον ἀρχὴν καὶ μέσον καὶ τελευτήν.