ELEVENTH IN LINE
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A blog about my life, universe, etc. At any given time you might find something endlessly interesting or just me ruminating on something else, which no one (not even myself) finds interesting. That's the way blogs go, I suppose. Anyway, I was eleventh in line, and you weren't. Hah!
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Friday, April 21, 2006
A Unified Theory of LDS Scripture Ranking [edit: see the next post up; I've had to correct the rankings somewhat -- the Old Testament benefits, while poor Doctrine & Covenants 13:1 is demoted substantially]
I ran across, finally, the list of the original 160 Scripture Mastery scriptures (they reduced it to 100 before I even joined the Church) and thought, hey, why not incorporate this into my list of important LDS scriptures?
These are the 25 most important scriptures, in order, taking into account whether or not they were on the old list, whether or not they are on the current list, their ranking on the BYU index of conference citations, and whether or not I'd run into more than one citation of them as "really important missionary scriptures." That last is totally random, but I wanted some kind of folklorey component, and that was the easiest one to find. I added together the yes/no questions (old, new, recommended), multiplied them by the total number of citations in General Conference, and then added the total number of citations in General Conference (the formula is: "((2*C2*J2)+J2)"), then sorted them with the highest scores on top.
Moses 1:39 -- 1330 -- 1
2 Nephi 2:25 -- 485 -- 2
Romans 1:16 -- 440 -- 3
D&C 14:7 -- 415 -- 4
John 17:3 -- 414 -- 5
Mosiah 3:19 -- 395 -- 6
1 Nephi 3:7 -- 385 -- 7
Moroni 10:4-5 -- 350 -- 8
John 14:15 -- 325 -- 9
Matthew 5:16 -- 315 -- 10
Alma 41:10 -- 305 -- 11
D&C 82:10 -- 300 -- 12
D&C 130:20-21 -- 285 -- 13
John 7:17 -- 275 -- 14
2 Nephi 31:20 -- 265 -- 15
D&C 13:1 -- 260 -- 16
Moroni 10:4 -- 260 -- 16
1 Corinthians 15:22 -- 260 -- 18
Revelation 14:6 -- 255 -- 19
D&C 1:38 -- 255 -- 19
Matthew 25:40 -- 243 -- 21
2 Nephi 2:27 -- 240 -- 22
D&C 59:9 -- 240 -- 22
James 1:5 -- 234 -- 24
D&C 84:38 -- 220 -- 25
(the list gets less useful the further down you go, because the citation index is biased in favor of shorter books -- the top 100 Pearl of Great Price citations gets you down to just five citations each, whereas the top 100 Old Testament citations only goes down to 8 citations, and the heavily cited Book of Mormon only to 12.)
As you can see, the one thing that keeps recurring is that Moses 1:39 is a LOT more important than any other scripture out there. Which makes me once again say that the March Madness showdown (which I can't even find anymore, but rest assured, " For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" did NOT win -- I don't think it was even running!) was totally off-kilter and wrong.
Interestingly, these are the scores for the different books (across all my rankings):
Old Testament: 3211 (0)
Pearl of Great Price: 3285 (1)
Book of Mormon: 6145 (8)
Doctrine & Covenants: 6295 (7)
New Testament: 7653 (9)
I'm surprised by that. The numbers in parentheses are the instances of each in the Top 25 -- that surprises me rather less. I knew that a lot of our really basic doctrines are expressed mainly in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenenants, and New Testament. I just hadn't realized how much we rely on them (verses the Pearl of Great Price and particularly the Old Testament) on even the smaller or more unusual stuff. The top Old Testament scripture is, ironically, #26 on my main ranking -- Isaiah 29:14, with a score of 210. LDS readers shouldn't be surprised that Malachi 4:5-6 is right behind it, at #29, with a score of 195.
In case you're curious as to how the Scripture Mastery and recommendation bonuses impacted the rankings, the top 25 in my version are 1st, 6th, 8th, 11th, 3rd, 15th, 18th, 54th, 23rd, 24th, 28th, 29th, 35th, 36th, 41st, 46th, 46th, 46th, 50th, 50th, 13th, 63rd, 63rd, 17th, and 78th in pure citation order, respectively -- there are a LOT of ties, since that ranking is just based on how many times they've been cited; my rankings have a lot fewer ties, thank goodness. The reason that, say, Daniel 2:44 (#1 in Old Testament citations, 46th in overall citations) ranks lower than the Isaiah and Malachi scriptures is because it's only on the current Scripture Mastery list -- the Isaiah and Malachi scriptures are on both.
In case it's not obvious, I'll point out now that this system is not very sensitive to changes over time -- I gave the most weight to the continually popular (as evidenced by the citation index, from 1942 to the present) and that which both the CES of 1986 and the CES of today, and in a very few cases, returned missionaries of today, thought most helpful. I thought about giving a bonus to, say, everything that President Hinckley has cited personally, but decided against it.
I may or may not add in the hymnal and children's songbook references. It'd be a lot of data entry, so I'm already biased against it, and I'm not sure how much overlap there would be with the other two lists (the biggest victims in my scheme are the Scripture Mastery scriptures that aren't on the Top 100 of any of the five citation indices -- they all have scores of 0.) It'd be a fun experiment, anyway. I have a strong suspicion that the overall winner, Moses 1:39, can't be unseated under any responsible method of calculation.
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Because only so many people can be eleventh in line.