THE CATHOLIC LECTIONARY WEBSITE
by Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D.

Lectionary Statistics

How much of the Bible is included in the Lectionary for Mass?
Not as much as you might think, yet far more than was included in the Roman Missal before the Second Vatican Council!

The bishops assembled at Vatican II declared, "The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's word. In this way the more significant part of the Sacred Scriptures will be read to the people over a fixed number of years" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #51). As the following tables show, the current Lectionary for Mass does indeed offer a "richer fare" of biblical readings during the Eucharistic liturgy than was available before Vatican II. However, since many parts of the Bible (esp. the Old Testament) are still not included in the Lectionary, one must go beyond the readings used at Mass to cover the entire Bible.

The following tables compare the current edition of the Lectionary for Mass (1981 Latin, 1998/2002 USA editions)
with the pre-Vatican II Missale Romanum (substantially unchanged between 1570 and 1969, with a few modifications in 1951)
and the complete New American Bible (see the bottom of this page for a key to the column headings).

Readings from the Old Testament:

Before Vatican II, each Catholic Mass included only two biblical readings, which were normally referred to as "The Epistle" (since the first reading was almost always taken from one of the New Testament letters) and "The Gospel." Readings from the Old Testament were never used on Sundays, but only at the Easter Vigil, the Vigil of Pentecost, the feast of Epiphany and its octave, during Holy Week, and on some weekdays (esp. Ember days, weekdays of Lent, the feasts of some saints, and some votive Masses).

Since Vatican II, Masses on Sundays and major feast days include three biblical readings, the first of which is usually taken from the Old Testament (except during the Easter Season, when the first reading is from the Acts of the Apostles). The OT reading is normally very brief and thematically related to the Gospel reading of the day, so there is no detectable order or semi-continuous pattern from one Sunday to the next. Weekday Masses usually have only two readings, the first of which is taken from either the OT or the NT, according to a two-year weekday cycle.

OT Name of Book NAB Pre-Vatican II Missal:
Vigils & Feasts
Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Major Feasts
Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Weekdays
# Chap. # Vv. Total Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used
1 Genesis 50 1533 100** 6.5 % 138 9.0 % 428 27.9 %
2 Exodus 40 1213 28 2.3 % 112 9.2 % 208 17.1 %
3 Leviticus 27 859 0 0 % 9 1.0 % 42 4.9 %
4 Numbers 36 1289 0 0 % 11 0.9 % 81 6.3 %
5 Deuteronomy 34 959 9 0.9 % 52 5.4 % 106 11.1 %
6 Joshua 24 658 0 0 % 9 1.4 % 42 6.4 %
7 Judges 21 618 0 0 % 0 0 % 51 8.3 %
8 Ruth 4 85 0 0 % 0 0 % 21 24.7 %
9 1 Samuel 31 810 0 0 % 31 3.8 % 148 18.3 %
10 2 Samuel 24 695 0 0 % 19 2.7 % 110 15.8 %
11 1 Kings 22 817 0 0 % 37 4.5 % 166 20.3 %
12 2 Kings 25 719 0 0 % 14 1.9 % 100 13.9 %
13 1 Chronicles 29 943 0 0 % 0 0 % 0 0 %
14 2 Chronicles 36 821 0 0 % 8 1.0 % 17 2.1 %
15 Ezra 10 280 0 0 % 0 0 % 21 7.5 %
16 Nehemiah 13 405 0 0 % 8 2.0 % 19 4.7 %
17 Tobit 14 245 0 0 % 0 0 % 71 29.0 %
18 Judith 16 340 0 0 % 0 0 % 0 0 %
19 Esther 16 272 0 0 % 0 0 % 7 2.6 %
20 1 Maccabees 16 922 0 0 % 0 0 % 54 5.9 %
21 2 Maccabees 15 556 0 0 % 8 1.4 % 35 6.3 %
22* Job 42 1068 0 0 % 11 1.0 % 87 8.1 %
24* Proverbs 31 915 0 0 % 24 2.6 % 47 5.1 %
25 Ecclesiastes 12 222 0 0 % 4 1.8 % 34 15.3 %
26 Song of Solomon 8 117 0 0 % 0 0 % 7 6.0 %
27 Wisdom of Solomon 19 436 0 0 % 42 9.6 % 102 23.4 %
28 Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 51 1372 0 0 % 48 3.5 % 208 15.2 %
29 Isaiah 66 1291 24** 1.9 % 166 12.9 % 322 24.9 %
30 Jeremiah 52 1364 0 0 % 38 2.8 % 162 11.9 %
31 Lamentations 5 154 0 0 % 0 0 % 8 5.2 %
32 Baruch 6 213 30** 14.1 % 27 12.7 % 44 20.7 %
33 Ezekiel 48 1273 14** 1.1 % 48 3.8 % 180 14.1 %
34 Daniel 14 530 24** 4.5 % 5 0.9 % 178 33.6 %
35 Hosea 14 197 16 8.1 % 11 5.6 % 38 19.3 %
36 Joel 4 73 0 0 % 5 6.8 % 27 37.0 %
37 Amos 9 146 0 0 % 13 8.9 % 51 34.9 %
38 Obadiah 1 21 0 0 % 0 0 % 0 0 %
39 Jonah 4 48 10** 20.8 % 6 12.5 % 39 81.3 %
40 Micah 7 105 0 0 % 4 3.8 % 24 22.9 %
41 Nahum 3 47 0 0 % 0 0 % 8 17.0 %
42 Habakkuk 3 56 0 0 % 5 8.9 % 12 21.4 %
43 Zephaniah 3 53 0 0 % 8 15.1 % 13 24.5 %
44 Haggai 2 38 0 0 % 0 0 % 18 47.4 %
45 Zechariah 14 211 0 0 % 5 2.4 % 24 11.4 %
46 Malachi 3 55 0 0 % 6 10.9 % 18 32.7 %
* Note 1: The above table does not include the Psalms, since they are used so often in various ways during the Mass.
** Note 2: The 1951 revision of the Roman Missal reduced the number of OT readings at the Easter Vigil from twelve to four,
and omitted all six OT readings from the Pentecost Vigil, thereby further reducing the total amount of the OT read before Vatican II;
remaining were only 33 verses of Genesis, 28 of Exodus, 9 of Deuteronomy, 12 of Isaiah and 16 of Hosea. For details, see the Roman Missal page.

OT Summary:

OT Section NAB Pre-Vatican II Missal:
Vigils & Feasts
Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Major Feasts
Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Weekdays
# Chap. # Vv. Total Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used
Torah/Law 187 5853 137 2.3 % 322 5.5 % 865 14.8 %
Historical Books 316 9186 0 0 % 134 1.5 % 862 9.4 %
Wisdom Books (w/o Psalms) 163 4130 0 0 % 129 3.1 % 485 11.7 %
Four Major Prophets 191 4825 92 1.9 % 284 5.9 % 894 18.5 %
Twelve Minor Prophets 67 1050 26 2.5 % 63 6.0 % 272 25.9 %
OT Total (w/o Psalms) 924 25044 255 1.0 % 932 3.7 % 3378 13.5 %
Note 3: The 1951 revision of the pre-Vatican II Roman Missal (see note 2 above) reduced the total to only
98 verses or 0.39% of the Old Testament (aside from the Psalms) read at Vigils and major feast days.

Readings from the New Testament:

Before Vatican II, the same readings were used each year for the various Masses in the Roman Missal. The first reading was usually from one of Paul's Letters or the Catholic Epistles. The Gospel readings were most often taken from Matthew or John, less frequently from Luke, and only rarely from Mark.

Since Vatican II, much more of the New Testament is included in the Lectionary for Mass. The Acts of the Apostles is used as the first reading on the Sundays and weekdays during the Easter season. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are read semi-continuously on the Sundays of Ordinary Time on a three-year cycle, while passages from the Gospel of John are used mostly during the seasons of Lent and Easter and on several major feast days. Excerpts from all other NT books and letters are used as the second reading at Masses on Sundays and major feasts according to a three-year cycle, and/or weekday Masses on a two-year cycle. (Click on any of the previous underlined links for more details.)

NT Name of Book NAB Pre-Vatican II Missal:
Sundays & Major Feasts
Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Major Feasts
Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Weekdays
# Chap. # Vv. Total Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used
1 Matthew 28 1071 373 34.8 % 594 55.5 % 916 85.5 %
2 Mark 16 678 30 3.4 % 414 61.1 % 653 96.3 %
3 Luke 24 1151 188 16.3 % 650 56.5 % 1011 87.8 %
4 John 21 879 256 30.0 % 526 59.8 % 813 92.5 %
5 Acts 28 1007 35 3.5 % 165 16.4 % 492 48.9 %
6 Romans 16 433 69 15.9 % 117 27.0 % 228 52.7 %
7 1 Corinthians 16 437 75 17.2 % 162 37.1 % 244 55.8 %
8 2 Corinthians 13 256 40 15.6 % 48 18.8 % 123 48.0 %
9 Galatians 6 149 45 30.2 % 47 31.5 % 90 60.4 %
10 Ephesians 6 155 57 36.8 % 96 61.9 % 141 91.0 %
11 Philippians 4 104 25 24.0 % 47 45.2 % 73 70.2 %
12 Colossians 4 95 16 16.8 % 35 36.8 % 62 65.3 %
13 1 Thessalonians 5 89 16 18.0 % 39 43.8 % 69 77.5 %
14 2 Thessalonians 3 47 0 0.0 % 17 36.2 % 28 59.6 %
15 1 Timothy 6 113 0 0.0 % 20 17.7 % 51 45.1 %
16 2 Timothy 4 83 0 0.0 % 25 30.1 % 39 47.0 %
17 Titus 3 46 9 19.6 % 8 17.4 % 28 60.9 %
18 Philemon 1 25 0 0.0 % 8 32.0 % 19 76.0 %
19 Hebrews 13 303 17 5.6 % 84 27.7 % 188 62.0 %
20 James 5 108 11 10.2 % 31 28.7 % 99 91.7 %
21 1 Peter 5 105 33 31.4 % 36 34.3 % 57 54.3 %
22 2 Peter 3 61 0 0.0 % 7 11.5 % 15 24.6 %
23 1 John 5 105 13 12.4 % 33 31.4 % 95 100.0 %
24 2 John 1 13 0 0.0 % 0 0.0 % 6 46.2 %
25 3 John 1 15 0 0.0 % 0 0.0 % 4 26.7 %
26 Jude 1 25 0 0.0 % 0 0.0 % 6 24.0 %
27 Revelation 22 404 0 0.0 % 38 9.4 % 129 31.9 %

NT Summary:

NT Section NAB Pre-Vatican II Missal:
Sundays & Major Feasts
Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Major Feasts

Current Lectionary:
Sundays & Weekdays

# Chap. # Vv. Total Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used Vv. Used % Used
Gospels (4) 89 3779 848 22.4 % 2184 57.8 % 3393 89.8 %
Acts 28 1007 35 3.5 % 165 16.4 % 492 48.9 %
Pauline Letters (7) 61 1493 270 18.1 % 468 31.3 % 846 56.7 %
Deutero-Paulines (6) 26 539 82 15.2 % 201 37.3 % 349 64.7 %
Hebrews 13 303 17 5.6 % 84 27.6 % 188 62.0 %
Catholic Epistles (7) 21 432 57 13.2 % 107 24.7 % 292 67.6 %
Book of Revelation 22 404 0 0 % 38 9.4 % 129 31.9 %
NT w/o Gospels 171 4178 461 11.0 % 1063 25.4 % 2296 54.9 %
NT Grand Total 260 7957 1309 16.5 % 3247 40.8 % 5689 71.5 %

Key to the Column Headings:

Main Lectionary Page 1998/2002 USA Edition 1992 Canadian Edition
Links to Other Websites 1970 USA Edition Roman Missal (Pre-Vatican II)

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This page was last updated on January 2, 2009.
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