Never been done before: MN church group tallies women's words in the Bible

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A group of women in the west metro did something that's never been done before – they sat down and counted all the words spoken by women in the world's most-read book.

It turns out, it's not very many.

For three years, Episcopal priest Lindsay Hardin Freeman (a former priest at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior) and her team – a high school student, the church's librarian and the head of the altar guild – pored over the Bible, marking the words women spoke with colored markers and sticky notes, Freeman wrote on her website.

The process

She started this project to gather more insight into the women in the Bible, the broad themes among those who spoke, and what their words mean for people today.

The research group meticulously documented every one of those words and recorded them on spreadsheets, adding analysis and context to the Scripture. Until now, this type of analysis had never been done before, Freeman wrote.

The findings

What they knew going into their research was that 93 women (only 49 of whom are named) are quoted in the Bible.

But how about the number of words those women say? And how does it compare to how much men say?

Overall, there are about 1.1 million words quoted throughout the book, the Star Tribune reports.

Freeman's group discovered only 14,000 of those are spoken by women. That's 1.3 percent of all quoted words in the entire New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

A 'groundbreaking' book

The group compiled their findings in the 480-page book "Bible Women: All Their Words and Why They Matter",which was published by Forward Movement in September 2014 with the support of a research grant from Episcopal Church Women.

The "groundbreaking book" not only documents every word women spoke, but also provides context and historical background to give people a better understanding of women during biblical times, a news release said.

Freeman's book was recently awarded the Gold Medal by Independent Publishers as one of the 2014's best books for Bible study, a news release noted.

The group of women are not quite done with their project, however. They are creating a Jeopardy-style game to go along with the book, the Star Tribune says.

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