Why I Stopped Following Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System

Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System is a fascinating one. The system involves reading 10 chapters of the Bible a Day, but not consecutive chapters. Each chapter is taken from a different section of the Bible basically divided as:

  • The Gospels
  • The Pentateuch
  • New Testament Letters (Part 1)
  • New Testament Letters (Part 2) and Revelation
  • Wisdom Literature
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs
  • Old Testament Histories
  • Old Testament Prophets
  • Acts

Each day you would read one chapter from each of those different categories. The idea being that as you are reading you are finding new parallels you never expected between various sections of the Bible. It’s an interesting theory.

The benefits are basically what I said up front. You begin to see different patterns emerging in the Bible. You can see parallels you may not have expected in places like Acts and Judges. Or Revelation and 1 Samuel. What this also does, is it allows you to break up more challenging or difficult to read through sections of scripture. Instead of reading through 10 chapters of “begats” you read one chapter that day, then move onto a different section of scripture. In theory, it sounds great. In practice, I had to give this system up.

For starters, 10 chapters a day feels overwhelming. It isn’t necessarily on some days, but when you have a family, a full time job, occasional travel for work/family, and other personal responsibilities – the 10 chapters can feel daunting at times. So, some days you miss. You end up reading 1-2 chapters or maybe 5. What happens then? You try to catch up the next day at least to where you were supposed to be. This is fine, but it requires a great deal of memory of where you left off. As you are reading 10 chapters a day from 10 very different parts of the Bible, you now have to remember exactly what chapter you are in, in each of these books. If you are diligent daily, then you may be okay. If you are not and have other personal matters to deal with which drain you of energy and time, it becomes even more challenging. For me, I was fine at first. Then the first day missed. Then the catch up. Then the remembering where I was in the letters or in the prophets. Once you’ve actually read through a book and are now on chapter 60 in one, chapter 2 in another – it gets even more complicated. For me, it became too much and tracking it became a chore. I know there are “apps for that,” but that’s not what I want when I’m reading the Bible. I don’t want an app to track things for me and I don’t want to dread it as a difficult chore. For me, this attempt to see the grand narrative made it more and more challenging to keep track of the individual stories I was reading. It was hard to follow what was being said by Paul in 1 Corinthians while simultaneously remembering what was happening to Job and David in the days before he became King. That coupled with life led to missed days. Days became weeks, which turned into a month. That’s when I took the 10 bookmarks out of my Bible and started fresh. Not with this system, but back to reading the Bible on my own.

Now I’m trying a new approach. I’m alternating 4 chapters from the Old Testament one day and 4 chapters from the New Testament the following day. For me, it’ll give me the opportunity to see different passages at the same time, without having to remember 10 different narratives, writing styles, and locations in the Word concurrently. It all became too jumbled for me. This isn’t.

This is not to say the system is bad, it just isn’t for me. For me, it made Bible reading a chore and the complex nature of the concurrent readings made it challenging for me to keep track of the local narratives, which in turn made me lose sight of God’s grand narrative. Feel free to look into it and if you like it, let me know in the comments. For me, though, I’m done with the system.

So, for my Christian friends – what Bible reading plan are you following? Feel free to discuss in the comments.

About the Author

Matthew Newman
Matthew Newman is a Christian environmental engineer (Professionally licensed in Maryland). He’s also a husband, beard aficionado, Dad of four beautiful children, blogger, and all around geeky guy from Baltimore County. When he’s not chasing his kids or working, he’s probably asleep.

1 Comment on "Why I Stopped Following Professor Horner’s Bible Reading System"

  1. Having grown up in the church my entire life and being the son of a pastor, I have seen it all when it comes to Bible reading plans. For me personally, I have boiled down my plan to reading passages of Scripture that are either led by the Holy Spirit or fit my current situation. These help me to learn and give God the reigns to dealing with the trials and troubles that I face on a daily basis. Also, I listen to one thirty minute preaching message (Faith Promise Church, Andy Stanley, etc.) that helps me to grow in my faith and explore the Bible from other perspectives. Odd to other Christians, I include an hour-long comedy podcast to my time with God, most of the time Tim Hawkin’s Poddy Break, that helps me to relax and enjoy a good couple of hearty laughs. Many people may think this is strange, but the fact that God made comedy like He did everything else and called it good means that He intended for His people to enjoy it, and it is a lot of fun to add into my time with the Lord every morning!

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