So I had this thought today: If God is not capable of making his book (or his prophet’s book) a best seller, what does that say about his power? (or its or hers)

Starting with this premise, I sought wisdom with the mighty google. Ok, first off, the phrase “one of the most published books of all time” is one of the most overused statements on the web. Secondly, no one really knows the exact figures for all these books and the most commonly cited reference was ten years old:

When we get asked these questions about bestselling books, we always have to remind our patrons that their question is basically unanswerable. No one really knows which books have sold the most copies in history, because we simply don’t have records that cover all of history! As such, any answer that we find is essentially just a “best guess” that is based upon estimates made by historians and other experts.

Probably the most often cited estimates come from a book titled The Top 10 of Everything by Russell Ash. The following lists come the The Top 10 of Everything, 1997 – Librarians

It’s actually pretty funny how little this information is out there. Many people think their favorite book with a mere 28 million copies or so is actually in the top 10 or 5. The last 10 years, of course, changed the list significantly with Harry Potter. Tho Potter fans need to settle down a bit as several people think several individual H.P. books have outsold the Bible’s total numbers. Which laughable to anyone with a smidge of education, if for nothing else that the Bible has been pretty well published for years and years and years where a Potter book sets a record for a single year. But I digress…

The following seems to be the best data available on the most sold books ever:

  1. 6,000,000,000 The Bible
  2. 900,000,000 Quotations from Chairman Mao
  3. 800,000,000 The Qur’an
  4. 505,000,000 Harry Potter Series (total)
  5. 400,000,000 Xinhua Zidian
  6. 200,000,000+ Book of Common Prayer
  7. 200,000,000+ Pilgrim’s Progress
  8. 200,000,000+ Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
  9. 120,000,000 Book of Mormon
  10. 110,000,000 And Then There Were None

(see the excel file for a full list of 28 with some notes)

So back to my premise. If a god wants to mettle in this world (a prereq for a religion), and has the power to effect things here – why not make your book big to generate converts? All religions on some level want to convert everyone (their approach varies from patience to death threats), so why not get the teachings out there?

Or to put it another way: if Chairman Mao can climb to the #2 spot of all time books through governmental power – is he more powerful than your god? Mao accomplished this feat in a mere 5 years, by requiring every Chinese adult own a copy.

Now, I’m not saying that religious truth boils down books sold or people in the pews – lord knows the Bakers had the numbers – but I think it merits some thought. How much can and will your god help you if he/she/it can’t or won’t help its sacred texts… (at least make the top 10?)