Bible distribution tops 34 million in 2015
The number of Bibles distributed by Bible Societies around the world has topped 34 million for the first time. Altogether, 34,396,611 full Bibles were distributed across the Fellowship in 2015 – an increase of just under 1.5% on 2014’s distribution total.
Including Testaments, Gospels and other smaller Scripture items, Bible Societies distributed a total of 418.7 million Scriptures in 2015. That’s slightly down on last year’s total – but still up 14% from distribution efforts back in 2010.
The figures are compiled from annual Scripture distribution numbers reported by Bible Societies around the world, and include local sales and exports of Scripture material*.
* Data was collected between February and March 2016. 79% of Bible Societies responded. In the case of non-respondents, the previous three years’ average data was given as their 2015 distribution data.
Global Scripture distribution in 2015
Meeting demand in the Middle East
Scripture distribution in Europe and the Middle East soared in 2015, up by nearly 50% compared to the previous year. It’s the region that’s seen the biggest rise in global Scripture distribution, reflecting the tremendous effort to meet demand for God’s word among those affected by war, violence and conflict.
In total, 8.4 million Scriptures were distributed within the region during 2015, including 1.8 million Bibles. That’s double what Bible Societies distributed in 2013, before so-called Islamic State began its brutal campaign in Iraq and Syria.
In particular, Bible distribution across Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – the five countries affected most by conflict and the resulting migration of people – rose by a staggering 88% between 2014 and 2015.
There’s been a surge in demand for smaller Scripture items, like calendars and booklets, which can be transported and distributed easily by Bible Societies’ network of volunteers. The total Scripture items distributed in Iraq alone has gone up seven-fold in 12 months, and Bible Society in Jordan distributed three times the number of Scriptures in 2015 than in the previous year.
The director of Bible Society in Syria, whose name remains confidential for his safety, said, “The thirst for Scriptures among Christians here has only increased with the unrest. The past five years have been very traumatic. Every family has a sad story. With this loss of hope, people are turning to God’s word for comfort and encouragement.”
More than 44 million Bibles for Brazil
More Bibles continue to be distributed in Brazil than in any country in the world. In 2015, 7.6 million Bibles were distributed here – more than twice the number distributed in China, the country with the second-highest figures.
Since 2010, more than 44 million full Bibles have been made available in Brazil, enough for almost a quarter of the population.
Rudi Zimmer, Bible Society of Brazil’s Executive Director, said, “Our Society has always been characterised by the outreach work it develops for populations facing situations of vulnerability and social risk, where the Word of God comes as a breath of hope and solace.”
Brazil is also home to one of the largest printing plants dedicated to producing Bibles and New Testaments – and in 2015 this Bible Press celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Scripture distribution in the Americas outstrips Scripture distribution across the rest of the world by a long way. A third of a billion Scriptures were distributed in this region in 2015; that’s 10 items every second. In fact, it’s slightly less than 2014, but an increase of 15% since 2010. The distribution of full Bibles in the Americas has been consistently around 14.5 million for the last three years.
Focus on full Bibles in Africa
More than three-quarters of Scripture items distributed across Africa in 2015 have been full Bibles, demonstrating Bible Societies’ commitment to making the complete Bible available to people on this continent.
By comparison, across the world 8% of all Scripture distributed by Bible Societies have been full Bibles.
Scripture distribution overall in Africa was at its lowest point since 2010. But the distribution of full Bibles has never been higher than in 2015 – climbing 36% since 2010.
Fuelling the Church in Asia
Scripture distribution in the world’s most populous region, where only 6% of people are Christians, has been steady. India and the Philippines both achieved their highest ever distribution of Scripture in 2015, with 30.8 million and 15.5 million Scriptures made available respectively.
China remains the world’s second-largest distributor of Bibles, providing approximately 4.5 million Scriptures in 2015.
Download Global Scripture Distribution Report 2015 Annual Progress Report (pdf 2 MB)