Searches for 'sorcery' and 'soceries' saw largest increase on Bible Gateway in 2021

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Keyword searches for “sorcery” and “sorceries” had the highest percentage increase in 2021 on the Bible Gateway, a resource website used by millions throughout its 28-year history to search biblical terms and scriptures online.

The platform released data in its “2021 In Review” summary detailing the biblical terminology that received the most traffic this year in its search engine. 

“The topics people search the Bible for on Bible Gateway are always interesting but this year may be the most intriguing,” the review states. 

Out of the well over 700,000 words that make up the Bible and could have been looked up using Bible Gateway, the searches for “sorcery” and “sorceries” showed a 193% increase compared to last year.  Searches for those words nearly tripled from 2020. 

According to the platform, those words likely got more attention based on heightened interest in the Greek word “pharmakeia.”

According to the Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, “pharmakeia” means “employment of drugs for any purpose; sorcery, magic, enchantment.” The term is used in Galatians 5:20.

“Pharmakeia is where we get our word pharmacy from,” Bible Gateway Senior Director Stephen Smith told Premier Christian News. “The terms themselves are actually not related, but I think that heightened interest in this word has led to additional heightened interest in searches for sorcery.” 

In addition to searches for sorcery, other topics that seemed to draw the most attention on the site were “slow to anger” and “abounding in love,” which both saw increases of 169%. 

The phrase “in my Fathers house there are many rooms” jumped up 140%. The saying “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” shot up 102%, and “your body is a temple” increased 77%. 

The words love, hope, peace, joy and faith were among the most popular keyword searches in 2021. Terms such as pestilence, plague and disease saw a 71% decrease in searches in 2021.

Biblical phrases, such as “you have not because you ask not,” “in this world you will have trouble,” “be not afraid” and “if my people who are called by my name” also saw decreased interest on Bible Gateway

John 3:16 and Jeremiah 29:11 received the title of most-popular Bible verses on the site for 2021. And Luke 10:18 — “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” — showed a 518% increase in searches. 

“This is related to the shoes in March that had the drop of blood in them,” Smith said, referring to sneakers released by rapper Lil Nas X called the “Satan Shoes.”

“That entire increase was essentially from those two days.”

The controversial shoes, which garnered much media attention, were a modified pair of Nike Air Max 97s that had a drop of human blood in the sole and Luke 10:18 printed on the side. 

The Bible verse that saw the largest decrease in searches on Bible Gateway in 2021 was Isaiah 26:20-21 (92%), while 2 Chronicles 7:14 saw the second-largest drop (72%) after an increase in searches in 2020. 

“Last year, there was a big focus on repentance,” Smith was quoted as saying. “And sort of seeing in some circles as COVID-19 as a divine judgment in some circles, and that has fallen away to some extent.” 

Bible Gateway had roughly 3 million searches per day this year and saw increased usage from 2020 going into 2021.

Founded in 1993, the searchable online Bible is available in more than 200 versions and 70 languages. Also available as an app, Bible Gateway allows users to read and research Bible verses, engage with a library of audio Bibles, complete devotionals, email newsletters and access other free Bible resources.

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