The Bible Backbone Plan


A few years ago I ran into Professor Grant Horner’s 10 Chapter a day reading system. It was beautiful but in my mind a bit too much. I tried it several times and it always felt a bit too artificial to keep breaking on chapter boundaries in the middle of a story. (More on that at a later date perhaps.) I kept getting frustrated and eventually broke off the reading plan and just did it my way.

As a result I developed my own Bible reading plan very similar to Prof Horner’s. I call it the Bible Backbone plan. It is a plan that works quite well for me, perhaps because it’s just a little smaller in size, and a thus a bit more flexible for my brain to work with.

I’ve broken the scriptures down into six areas which I felt should be read every day.

List 1: The Historical Backbone of Scripture tells the main story of the Bible from beginning to end. Read this looking for the overview of God’s plan
Did you miss a day? Don’t panic, dwell in grace and read today.
Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, Luke, Acts, & Revelation.
List 2: The Informational Books add to the storyline with extra information. They don’t tell the historical story as much as the first group, but they add information we should know.
Did you miss a day? Don’t panic, dwell in grace and read today.
Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Ruth, 1 & 2 Chronicles, & Esther.
List 3: The Wisdom Literature.

Did you miss a day? Don’t panic, dwell in grace and read today.

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations.
List 4: The Prophets are typically grouped around the period of the monarchy but are worth reading all year.

Did you miss a day? Don’t panic, dwell in grace and read today.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi.
List 5: The Gospels. Reading the story of our savior every day. Luke is part of the Historical Backbone so here we have the remaining three.
Did you miss a day? Don’t panic, dwell in grace and read today.
Matthew, Mark, & John.
List 6: The Letters. This is a longer section which probably means that you’ll need to dwell here a little longer. Read prayerfully.
Did you miss a day? Don’t panic, dwell in grace and read today.
Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude.

Now one of the benefits of this plan is that while Leviticus is one of my favorite books, it’s not everyone’s. But because group 2 is so short, you can read just a little every day and move on.

Unless you’re using a computer generated reading plan you can read this plan at your leisure. Go ahead and read Genesis 1 thru 5, then half of Leviticus 1, the first two chapters of Job, the opening of Isaiah, Matthew’s genealogy, and the first chapter of Romans. It’s quite liberating to know you’re making progress. It is also quite phenomenal to see the how the various texts suddenly seem interrelated.

You also can print out the above as bookmarks and use them.

Here is how I would do it: Place each one where it goes to start your reading this year and focus on reading stories rather than chapter numbers. If one story unit is three chapters then just read it in one sitting. If it’s half a chapter, just read that (unless you want to read more!).

EDIT: Emphasize flexibility here.  How much should you read? How should you read it? Remember, you’re not only attempting to read all of God’s word, you are trying to meet with God in it’s pages.

  1.  Try to read stories, not just chapter divisions.  Especially in group one. Look for the natural edges of the episode you’re reading, and just read.
  2. Read prayerfully, if a thought strikes you such as “I should pray about that when I’m done.”  Stop and pray about it right now, you are engaging in dialog with the Almighty.
  3. Read to enjoy your time. For example, if you get caught up in something the prophets are saying, just read longer.

/End Edit

Once you finish one of the sections (like the shorter section of the gospels) just restart that section as you keep reading the rest.

As you can see this is heavily based upon Grant Horner’s plan, it just happens to work better for me this way.

If you have Logos Bible Software you can generate this plan by using the following string and setting it to break on pericope boundaries rather than chapters. I seriously prefer that option. I also set it to go for about seven months, which is a good pace for my personal reading.

Ge; Ex; Nu; Jos; Jdg; 1 Sa; 2 Sa; 1 Ki; 2 Ki; Ezr; Ne; Lk; Ac; Re | Le; Dt; Ru; 1 Ch; 2 Ch; Es | Job; Ps; Pr; Ec; So; La | Is; Je; Eze; Da; Ho; Joe; Am; Ob; Jon; Mic; Na; Hab; Zep; Hag; Zec; Mal | Mt; Mk; Jn | Ro; 1 Co; 2 Co; Ga; Eph; Php; Col; 1 Th; 2 Th; 1 Ti; 2 Ti; Tt; Phm; Heb; Jas; 1 Pe; 2 Pe; 1 Jn; 2 Jn; 3 Jn; Jud