Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Grant Horner's Bible Reading System

For those of you not familiar with the system, you may find it online here:

If you use Horner's Bible Reading system, and find it helpful, please keep using it. Don't stop on account of anything I might say in this post if you indeed find it helpful.

I was reminded today that in the past I have recommended Horner's system (see the GPTS January newsletter here:

I used it myself for about a year, long enough to become familiar with it, and also long enough to discover what, to me, are its weaknesses. It is these weaknesses that I want to deal with in this post. First, I really don't see the point of reading Acts through every month. Horner's comment that if you don't know why you should read Acts (or Proverbs) every month shows that you need to read them that often strikes me as unhelpful, and verging on snarky.

Second, I think the reading system gives short shrift to the Old Testament. It is, to my mind, essentially a dispensational way of reading the Bible. The Old Testament is really about Israel, and hence isn't all that important for the church. You read Acts almost nine times in the time it takes you to get through the larger Old Testament sections (historical books take 249 days, prophets take 250 days).

Third, I think that reading through Proverbs every month may contribute to the sort of legalistic piety that we see so often in dispensational, fundamentalist churches here in the South. The book is not read (really) in the larger context of the Old Testament, but is dealt with as a separate entity.

Fourth, most Christians are too unfamiliar with the Old Testament. Reading it once per eight months is better than nothing, but not if you're reading the New Testament two or three times in that same period.

If today I were to recommend something like Horner's system, it would be thoroughly modified toward a more thorough familiarity with the Old Testament. Working with Horner's ten chapters per day, my proposal would look something like this:

1. Pentateuch (187 chapters, approximately twice per year)
2. Historical Books, part 1. Joshua through 2 Kings (151 chapters, about two and a half times per year)
3.Historical Books, part 2. 1 Chronicles through Esther (98 chapters, almost four times per year)
4. Poetic Books (minus Psalms). Job through Song of Solomon (93 chapters, almost four times per year)
5. Psalms. (150 chapters, about two and a half times per year)
6. Major Prophets. Isaiah through Daniel (183 chapters, twice per year)
7. Minor Prophets. Hosea through Malachi (67 chapters, almost six times per year)
8. Gospels and Acts. (117 chapters, about three times per year)
9. Epistles and Revelation (143 chapters, about two and a half times per year)

This approach accomplishes the mixed reading that Horner is promoting, while doing a more thorough job of acquainting the reader with the Old Testament. Notice that it accomplishes this in one less chapter per day than Horner's system.


Stan Blackburn said...
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Stan Blackburn said...

Prof. Shaw,
I like your revised Horner system. Any ideas for a revised Horner system including the deuterocanonical books? Thanks.