On Your Mark (and Matthew, John, and Luke) — Go!

There are a variety of plans for reading the Bible in a year but — call me a cynic — I bet it has happened more than once that a person embarking on one or the other fails to finish the Bible by December 31.  Let’s face it:  The Bible is a pretty long book, and — while it gets off to a good, reader-friendly start with Genesis — some books are slow-going.

On the other hand, while there’s really no excuse for failing to read all of God’s Word, the most important books for us Christians are the Gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  Whether you are a Christian or not, it makes sense to start there.  (I have a post here on “Top Books of the Bible.”). These four books tell us about the life and teachings of the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

And how about starting by reading just one of those books every month?  That’s probably a good thing to do even if you have already read the Bible.  For what it’s worth, it’s what I’ve started to do.  And that’s not a heavy lift:  Each gospel is in the 10,000 – 20,000 words range; for comparison’s sake, note that George Orwell’s Animal Farm — the book you chose in high school because it was the shortest on the summer reading list — is 26,000 words long.

So I’ve set out below a plan for doing that.  Note that, if you followed it, you would read each of the four Gospels three times in the course of a year.  Here you go:

January — Mark

February — Matthew

March — John

April — Luke

May — Mark

June — Matthew

July — John

August — Luke

September — Mark

October — Matthew

November — John

December — Luke

The order in which I’ve placed the books is not essential, but there is some logic to it.  I wanted to begin the reader with Mark, since it’s the shortest, so it’s given January and May (today being May 1, in case you want to start now).  Note that Mark has 16 chapters, so if the month has 31 days (as January and May do), then you just have to read a half chapter a day, until the 31st, when you can bravely read all of Mark’s final chapter (which is the shortest chapter  in that book and has only 20 verses).

Also:  I wanted Matthew to be assigned to February, since they have 28 chapters and 28 days, respectively — a chapter a day.  Of course I wanted the reader to read all four books once before reading any a second time, and to read all four twice before reading any a third time.  And I stuck John in between Matthew and Luke, since the latter two are the longest and are both synoptics.  Make sense?