Q. I have a question that I thought was straightforward but seems to be a point of discussion even among bible scholars. Who was the most prolific writer in the New Testament? I always thought it was Paul, but I heard a well-respected pastor say it was Luke. When I researched the answer online, there seemed to be some debate. How can this be? It seems to me that a person could count the words, chapters, or books written by each and come up with a definitive answer. Why the confusion? Who does deserve the credit?
As I understand it, Luke is the writer responsible for the largest part of the New Testament. This is if we go by word count, i.e. “by volume.” I think that’s more accurate than by book, chapter, or verse, as these can vary greatly in length. (This is true even if Paul wrote Hebrews, which I think is doubtful, but which many believe on the basis of tradition.)
In other words, Luke-Acts (originally written as a single work, though divided and separated in most Bibles) is by itself longer than all thirteen of Paul’s letters combined. You can get a rough idea of this by counting the pages, especially in an edition that has no headings or chapter numbers, like The Books of the Bible (in which Luke-Acts is also restored to unity as a single work). In that edition, Luke-Acts is 99 pages while Paul’s letters are 97 pages–and that number is inflated by the blank space frequently left on the last pages of his many letters. Luke-Acts only has one “last page,” and its page count suffers accordingly. But once again, if we go by words, we discover that Luke actually wrote the largest part of the New Testament.