A M’Cheyne/BHS Bible Reading Plan

I will read the whole Bible in 2023 following a variant of the M’Cheyne plan I used in 2022 -- one with a different ordering of the Old Testament books.

In 2022 I followed the M’Cheyne plan to read the Bible in one year. I plan to do this again in 2023, but I adjusted the plan to combine the Old Testament sequence from the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia with M’Cheyne’s New Testament and Psalms cadence. Scroll to the end to download the plan, or read on to learn how I built it.

What is the M’Cheyne Plan?

The M’Cheyne plan, devised by 19th century Scottish minister Robert Murray M’Cheyne, is a popular way to read the Bible in a year. One reads once through the Old Testament and twice through the New Testament and the Psalms, reading about four chapters a day. The original plan divides each day’s readings in two: a private or “secret” section, and a “family” section for family devotions. Canadian minister D.A. Carson created a two-year variant of this plan, in which you read only one of the sections per day. His daily devotional For the Love of God follows this variant.

As I write these lines, I’m on track to complete the original M’Cheyne plan by the end of this week. It’s the second time I read the Bible in one year. I almost completed my first attempt in 2006, and successfully completed it for real in 2017. As the end of 2022 neared I decided to read the Bible in a year two years in a row. I also decided to slighthly alter the plan my second time around.

What is the BHS?

The books in the Hebrew Scriptures don’t follow the same order as our modern Old Testament. In fact, the Hebrew name for Old Testament Scriptures, “Tanakh”, stems from its book order: the Torah or “law”, the Nevi’im or “prophets”, and the Ketuvim or “writings” (everything else). This article details how the Hebrew Bible sequence differs from ours and explains the merits of those differences.

There is some dispute on the actual order of the Hebrew Bible, mostly concerning the placement of Chronicles. The variant known as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, or BHS, puts this book at the very end. (In the Hebrew Bible, Samuel, Kings and Chronicles aren’t divided.)

A M’Cheyne/BHS Plan

For 2023, I took the M’Cheyne plan and copied its New Testament and Psalms cadence, which takes you through these Bible sections twice in a year. I completed the plan with one pass through the Old Testament (minus the Psalms) following the BHS book order. The original M’Cheyne plan splits the Old Testament in two sequential “streams” that one reads in parallel. One stream runs from Genesis to 2 Chronicles; the other runs from Ezra to Malachi. In my variant, one reads through the Biblia Hebraica one book at a time, usually two chapters a day. It gets a bit more intense towards the end of the year; starting in late November you more often have to read five to six chapters a day. Wherever possible, I preserved M’Cheyne’s recommended chapter splits and combinations for both testaments.

What’s the Point?

Reading the Bible in one year is about breadth – about becoming or remaining familiar with how the Bible fits together as one book. The author of the article I linked above refers to the Bible book order as “a silent conversation”. That is something the Bible does at several levels: conveying a message implicitly through its composition and arrangement, instead of explicitly through words. I felt that I wanted to read the whole Bible twice in a row to cement these implicit connections in my brain. However, I felt it was a good opportunity to explore them in another way through a different ordering of Old Testament books.

If you’d like to follow this plan, or just see what it looks like, you can download it here. No strings attached – no email, subscription, or purchase required. Whether you follow this or another plan, I hope you choose to spend time in the Bible in 2023. Like Greg Koukl rightfully claimed in the title of his excellent book, the Bible is the Story of Reality – the narrative that best explains our world. We need it more than ever.

Tags: #bible , #oneyearbible , #reading

Published: December 27, 2022