Sometimes an idea consumes me for a little while. Sometimes it goes for years. Sometimes it takes me years to string together enough interest to finish. This is one of those projects that took years.
I have created a simple tool for Bible reading/study.
Here’s what it does:
Provide word counts for every part of the Bible. Get counts by Testament, Section, Book, Chapter. Also provide word clouds for every part of the Bible. How often does your pastor say something like “the word ‘grace’ was used 24 times in this book of the Bible”. Well, now that information is very easy to come by. Perhaps you’ll spot patterns.
Want to know where a word is used? Click on it to get to a listing of everywhere it is used in the whole Bible. Shows the books and chapters where the word is used the most.
Read the Bible
Read the Bible right from the website if you want. Click a word to see the concordance of that word. Probably not how you’re going to do your everyday reading, but could be valuable to dig into words.
Track Your Progress
Now for why I started this whole thing in the first place.
Years ago I was reading two different books at that same time. On the same day I came across these two passages:
From “Knowing Scripture” by R.C. Sproul:
If you have read the whole Bible, you are in a small minority of Christian people. If you have studied the Bible, you are in an even smaller minority. Isn’t it amazing that almost every American has an opinion to offer about the Bible, and yet so few have really studied it?
From “Love Your God With All Your Mind” by J.P. Moreland:
I don’t want to belabor the point about the Spirit and biblical interpretation, but it is crucial to grasp the implications of what I am saying. When cultists come to my door, I often point out that they take passages out of context. To prove my charge I ask them to state the historical setting, main theme, and basic structure of just one of the sixty-six books of the Bible . It would be unfair to expect someone to do this for all the books, but if someone is in the habit of studying Scripture properly and with an eye to context, then over the years that person should have a growing ability to do this. I have never once had a cultist answer this question.
Could you do this? If the answer is no, you should ask yourself whether your approach to the Bible is adequate. I fear that our inaccurate emphasis on the Holy Spirit’s role in understanding Scripture has become an easy shortcuts to the hard work of building a personal library of study tools and using them. As Gallup poll after Gallup poll has shown, the result of our inaccurate emphasis on the Spirit, along with our intellectual laziness, is that modern Christians are largely illiterate about the content of their own religion and feel inadequate because of it. We need local churches dedicated to the task of training believers to think logically and biblically. We must develop intelligent Christians; that is, Christians who have the mental training to see issues clearly, make important distinctions carefully, and weigh various factors appropriately. If we are not really planning to see this happen, then at the end of the day, we are really saying is that a deep understanding of the Scripture, creeds, and theology of Christianity just doesn’t matter that much.
I felt like God was trying to tell me something. That was: Dave, you need to read the whole Bible.
Being a nerd, I tried to understand what that would mean and make a plan I could follow that would get me through the whole thing. How does one read take on such a large task. Reading the whole Bible is like eating an elephant and there’s only one way to do that–one bite at a time.
So I analyzed the Bible to figure out a number of things:
- What was a reasonable amount to read every day?
- How many of those units were in the Bible?
- How many of those units had I not read?
- What was a reasonable target for completion?
From that, I came up with a paper copy of what I called he “Bible Reading Checklist” (a tool I have used for the last 15 years). That checklist let me check off chapters from my daily reading and track my progress toward reading the whole Bible. Since initially finishing the Bible, I use it to help me complete “laps” of the Bible. This makes sure I don’t just keep reading the same sections over and over. The paper version was nice, but I always envisioned a tool that told me every day just how I’m doing.
That’s what this tool is for. To tell you just how you’re doing in reading through the Bible. Use it to track your progress. Read on the website if you want, or in your Bible (what I prefer) but come back here from time to time and check off your progress and see how you’ve done. Read one chapter and you’ve finished very little of the whole Bible (that feels defeating). But you might be 5% of the way through a book. In a week you might be 5% of the way through the Historical Books. In a month you might be 5% of the way through the Old Testament. These are small victories and I needed small victories to help me finish.
So, here’s the checklist. Check off what you’ve read and watch the progress go. I’m apparently currently 73.37% of the way through the Poetic Books (as I read through Eccelesiastes). I’ll probably move to Job next and finish up that section.
- All of this is from the ESV Bible.
- The Checklist tracks your progress through the Bible as a percentage of words. This is helpful because chapters and verses are a poor indication of your progress. Some books are wordier than others.
- This thing might not be perfect. It is a hobby. Bear with me. Comment here and I’ll fix what I can when I can.
- This isn’t a Bible reading plan. I don’t do that. That’s too strict and rigid for me. I read what I want to read and track the progress. I’m in no real hurry and these days I don’t even have a goal to get through in a certain time. I just read and track. You could certainly use this along with a Bible reading plan to track your progress and help keep you motivated (something which most plans don’t do well).
- I hope this helps people engage in the whole of God’s Word. My experience is that every read through the Bible will confront you with some nuance of God’s character you didn’t really expect. Passages will have different emphases depending on where you are today.