Bible Reading Plans: Print Drives Digital(?)

Bible Reading Plans: Print Drives Digital(?)

Stephen Smith has recently graphed 91 Bible reading plans available through Bible.com (a YouVersion website), sorting them into four basic kinds: continuous (i.e., sequential), semi-continuous, chronological, and selections. When overlaid, they look like this:

Bible Reading Plans
Graphic by Stephen Smith, openbible.info (CC BY 4.0).

Interestingly, Smith suggests that these plans reflect a print-Bible mindset:

The similarity among these plans suggests to me that they originate from a print-first mindset: what’s convenient to read in a physical Bible. You’re not, for example, going to flip to passages all over your print Bible every day unless you have unusually strong dedication to your reading plan.

But digital reading plans don’t have this limitation. Thanks to transclusion, a digital plan can collect content from all over the Bible (and elsewhere) and show it to you in one place, which means you can read much more widely on a single day if you like.

While I largely agree with these points, I suspect that the preference for sequential reading of larger units of a particular book or section of a book (e.g., Genesis 1, Jude)—rather than, say, reading one verse from every book of the Bible every day—will prevail even in a ‘digital-first’ design of a yearly reading plan. (I am assuming a number of things about the typical user of a Bible reading plan and I would not necessarily say the same thing about digital Bible reading in general).

It is also worth noting that from ancient times, scriptures have been read from various sorts of compilations similar to the kind of transcluded text envisioned in the excerpt above. To name one modern example: The Book of Common Prayer orders daily readings of texts ‘from all over the Bible’, and ‘in one place’. Granted, the selection is not computed on the fly, nor can it be user-generated.

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