A couple of years ago, I came across Professor Grant Horner’s Bible-Reading System. It seemed like a really good system for getting through the whole Bible in a systematic way, but those flimsy paper bookmarks really drove me nuts.
The first time I head of Professor Grant Horner’s Bible-Reading System was through Tim Challies blog post Ten Chapters Per Day. His description, coupled with the explanation from Professor Horner were enough to convince me to give it a try. I had been accustomed to either reading straight through or haphazardly, so it sounded like a nice change of pace.
It turns out that I really enjoy it. I like the way the topics from one section of the Bible blend with that of another. It’s interesting when you read an Old Testament reference in the New Testament and think, “Hey, I just read that last week!” as opposed to six months ago when reading from front to back. I also appreciate the variety. Let’s be honest. Would you rather read tens chapters from Leviticus per day, or one?
In case you haven’t heard of it, you can get the original instructions and bookmarks here, but a real basic overview is that the Bible is broken down into ten sections of different lengths. Professor Horner explains:
Since the lists vary in length, the readings begin interweaving in constantly changing ways. You will NEVER read the same set of ten chapters together again! Every year you’ll read through all the Gospels four times, the Pentateuch twice, Paul’s letters 4-5 times each, the OT wisdom literature six times, all the Psalms at least twice, all the Proverbs as well as Acts a dozen times, and all the way through the OT History and Prophetic books about 1-1/2 times. Since the interweaving is constantly changing, you will experience the Bible commenting on itself in constantly changing ways — the Reformer’s principle of ‘scriptura interpretans scripturam’ — ‘scripture interpreting scripture’ IN ACTION!
Despite really liking the plan, there was one thing I didn’t like: the bookmarks. While they were certainly functional, there were things I found annoying about them:
- They’re paper. I figured at some point they’re going to rip. Sure they’re easy to reprint, but I was always worried they would rip any way. The bookmark would be pushed back towards the spine as far as it would go, and when I tried to open the page, they just felt flimsy. It always felt like I was going to rip it trying to open to the page.
- They’re ugly. Not the bookmark itself, because they have a nice design, but the ten bookmarks sticking out the top of the Bible.
- They’re crowded. The bookmarks were so crowded together that they were a pain to figure out which was which. The lists don’t move from the front of the Bible to the back, they bounce around. List 1 starts in the Gospels, List 2 in the Pentateuch, List 3 and 4 are New Testament, List 5 is Old Testament… You get the picture.
- They weren’t a good bookmark. Sometimes, I would come back the next day and think, okay, what chapter did I read yesterday? This was especially common in the Psalms when I would look at a two-page spread and see chapters 92-97. Now, did I read 93 or 94 yesterday?
Okay, so they’re all little things, but sometimes the little things can be annoying. I’m sure we all have little things that people would look at us and go, really? So, I started looking into different ways that people kept track.
I found a few different ways on the Internet, but none of them were really what I was looking for. It wasn’t until I came across a couple of checklists that I started thinking, “Hey, they’re on to something!” While the ones I came across weren’t quite what I was looking for, they gave me the inspiration to design my own.
The basic design is that each list takes up half of a full-page of letter-size paper. You can simply cut it in half, or do like I did: cut it in half and take about a half-inch off the margin on each side. They fit perfectly inside the back cover of my Bible without sticking out.
When I sit down to read, I pull the stack out of the back of the Bible and start with whatever list is on top. As I finish each chapter, I start a new pile turning the top page over, until I reach the end of the stack. On days that I work, I seldom get through all ten chapters, but I know that when I come back the next day, the next reading will be sitting there on top. When I’m finished reading for the day, I cross each chapter off list with a pen, put those finished pages in the back of the stack, and put the stack back in my Bible.
One of the unintended benefits was not having a bookmark. It forces you to look up each chapter, and very quickly, you get a feel for the location of each one in the Bible. I’ve gotten much quicker at finding verses in the Bible without a table of contents, and it’s becoming something that’s very natural.
Finally, some of the lists are short. List 10, for example, is simply made up of Acts. I was able to put Acts on the checklist eight times, which means you won’t need to print a new checklist for eight months, saving you a little paper. List 2, containing the Pentateuch has 187 chapters. That would only fit once, but again, you won’t have to reprint the checklist for about six months. The checklists aren’t fancy, but they’re neat, orderly, and functional.
I hope you enjoy them.