I typically look at the absolute use of a single word, but sometimes interesting observations can be found be looking at the ratio of how frequently one word is used, in comparison to another word.
This week I look at the ratio of “Jesus” to “God.”
As always, see here for an intro to Google’s ngram viewer if this is new for you.
For every 100 times we talk about God, here is how often we talk about Jesus:
On average, Jesus gets mentioned about 15 – 30 times (in English literature) for every 100 times that God gets mentioned. I found a few interesting things about this chart.
First, on the whole, there isn’t a whole lot of variation. From 1800 to about 1960 it stays fairly level, other than some bumps around 1880 and 1920. But there is no steady trend over that period of time. As an interesting aside, Mormonism, Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), and the Church of Christ, Scientist, were all formed in the nineteenth century, with the latter two arriving toward the end of the century. That might partially account for the first bump observed during that time period; pseudo-Christian religions were on the rise.
The second interesting observation is the somewhat more pronounced increase after 1960. While we have always been prone to discuss God more than Jesus, since 1960 the ratio has somewhat steadily shifted toward Jesus. As we have seen numerous times in these ngram studies, something significant happened around 1960, and it would seem our religious discussions (at least, with respect to the Christian faith) also saw a subtle shift.
No massive observations, I just found this interesting. In the coming weeks I’ll have a few more observations around this theme that should prove to be a little more insightful.