(or, how to import complex customized reading plans into Logos)
In this blog post, I explain how I imported a complex Bible reading plan (the Horner plan) into Logos, using a combination of programmatic methods and manual import. While people can just download the end product directly, I include my methods here for anyone else who is interested in implementing other complex reading plans, whether of the Bible or other Logos resources.
Update 6/30/22: added links to text files for Berean Tracker reading plans (see below).
I have usually read the Bible once through every year, using one of the many yearly plans available. (In 2020, I used the Bible Project plan in the YouVersion app.) However, I recently learned about a different type of reading plan devised by Prof. Grant Horner of The Master’s University, See this PDF for a full introduction to the plan, and more reviews of the plan here and here.
The plan divides up the Bible into 10 groups of books of differing length.
- Matthew-John (89 chapters)
- Genesis-Deuteronomy (187 chapters)
- Romans-Colossians, Hebrews (78 chapters)
- 1 Thessalonians-Revelation (65 chapters)
- Job-Song of Solomon (62 chapters)
- Psalms (150 chapters)
- Proverbs (31 chapters)
- Joshua-Esther (249 chapters)
- Isaiah-Malachi (250 chapters)
- Acts (28 chapters)
Each day, a chapter is read from each group. Once a group is finished, it is repeated. This exposes the reader to a great variety of genres within Scripture. Because there is a different number of chapters in the groups, the selection of passages for a single day is never the same. In fact, assuming one reads a chapter a day, I calculated that the same reading plan will only repeat after about 16 billion years!
Existing options for tracking the plan
Given the complexity of the p[an, some external aid is useful to keep track of which chapters have been read and which to read on a given day. There are already several extant options. The most basic one is to print out a plan on paper. This website called evangelism.org provides PDFs writing out the system for 100 years which you can print out. For electronic options, the plan is available on the popular Bible app YouVersion.
However, lately I’ve been making a lot of use of the program Logos to study the Bible and read theological works. This is a powerful software program which makes it easy to take notes, integrate different versions of the Bible with concordances, commentaries, Bible dictionaries, theological works, and so on. (The basic version can be downloaded here.) Naturally, I wanted to start using Logos to track my reading of this plan so that it would be easier to integrate it with all my other Bible notes.
Logos 8 (which I currently use) has several decent reading plan capabilities, although they are not really optimized for a reading plan which is practically of infinite length. There have been several attempts to integrate the Horner reading plan into Logos. The most prominent of them is this Faithlife group which contains some plans you can download to your account. If you go to their documents section, there are several options, but none of them seem to be completely customizable. The “Grant Horner 10 Chapters a day” document seems to be closest to what I want, but for some reason it is fixed to the NASB 1995 version of the Bible and cannot be changed within Logos, even if you make a private duplicate of the group document. Another option is to copy the 10 reading plans (one corresponding to each group of books) and read them everyday. But that also seems clunky.
Eventually, I figured out a solution to generate the Horner plan in Logos with fully customizable features. It is rather peculiar and ended up needing some programming, which may not be accessible to everyone. However, I include all the documents I generated in this blog post for the benefit of anyone else who wants to use it. Finally, another part of the problem is that the Reading Plan feature of Logos 8 is not completely customizable programmatically, so in the end a fair amount of manual clicking still has to be done.
Overview of the plan
The basic idea is to use Passage List feature in Logos, which can be directly imported to the customized Reading Plan feature with a few clicks. Passage Lists can in turn be imported from text documents, which in turn can be generated using any external program (I used Mathematica, which happened to be the programming language I’m most familiar in).
Step 1: Generate text documents
First, I create a spreadsheet containing information about which books are in each of the 10 groups, and how many chapters are in each book.
The XLSX file for the above can be downloaded here. To be clear, this is not needed if you just want to copy the 3-year plan that I generated using my program. For that you only need the 10 text files to be imported into Logos (scroll down).
I then create an algorithm in Mathematica to generate lists of chapters of appropriate length from each groups of books. (To start with, I chose 1095 days, or 3 years.) The list for group 1, for example, looks like the following:
and so on (a total of 1095 elements, one for each day). The algorithm is pretty simple, as you simply need to find out the quotient and remainder of the division between 1095 and the number of chapters in each book.
There is the special case of Psalm 119, which is 176 verses long. I decided to divide it into 5 sections of 32 verses + 1 section of 16 verses. Thus the book of Psalms is divided into 155 readings although there are only 150 psalms.
The Mathematica notebook containing the algorithm can be accessed here. If you don’t have Mathematica and am not comfortable with programming your own algorithm, it is still possible to make the above list manually using Notepad or Microsoft Word (but save document as .txt).
What we have now are 10 text documents, each containing lists of passages.
Here is a zip file containing the 10 text files I generated for the 3-year plan. You will need to download this if you want to copy my plan into your own instance of Logos. (EDIT: if you’re OK with reading the plan in the ESV, it is easier to just copy the document in the Horner plan Faithlife group, which I link to at the end.)
Update 6/30/22: Here is a new link has several subfolders corresponding to text files for different reading lists. There is the original 3-year Horner plan, a 10-year Horner plan, and 10-year Berean Tracker (inspired by a request from Facebook). Feel free to contact me if you have any other plans that you need text files for – I may do them if I have time.
(Link updated 9/13/22)
Step 2: Import documents into Passage Lists in Logos
We now import each of the 10 text documents as a separate Passage List into Logos. First, go to Docs->New->Passage List. Then go the upper left hand corner of the new list and click Add->Add passages from file, and choose one of the 10 text files we generated earlier:
This is the result we get. We can also change the Bible version to a preferred one (mine is the ESV).
This process has to be repeated a total of 10 times until you have 10 passage lists from the 10 texts. It will be helpful to give clear names to each of the passage lists for ease of access in the next step.
Step 3: Build a Reading Plan from Passage Lists
In Logos, we select Docs->New->Reading Plan->Custom Reading Plan. At first we will just get a completely empty document. Select Add->Add passages from a Passage list, and choose one of the 10 passage lists you just made in Step 2. Now the list will be populated with one chapter per day, just as we inputted it into the Passage List:
We then repeat this process for the remaining passage lists. They will automatically be slotted into the same dates as the first list. (Note: don’t mess around with the start date of the plan before you have finished adding all of the lists).
Here is what a completed plan looks like:
As you can see, the list starts on Friday, January 1 2020 and runs for three straight years until the end of 2023. (By that time, I hope to re-evaluate and choose whether to continue on with this plan or not. If yes, I can just modify the algorithm to generate a customized list to start where I left off.)
To read in Logos with the newly created plan, I can just click on the relevant day, and here we get the passage together with convenient links at the top to select other passages for the day:
How to access the reading plan I made with the above steps
I have now shared the new reading plan in the same Faithlife group associated with Horner’s reading plan, called Horner 3-year Bible Reading Plan (ESV). (I think the link only works if you join the Faithlife group and “Connect” to the document. You can also duplicate the document for private use, which may make it more customizable.) However, I’m not sure if the plan will be fully customizable (e.g. allowing changing Bible version) if you just download it through the FL group. This is why I have written this blog post to help you generate your own version of the Reading Plan if you need to.
Update (Jan 2021): another reason I initially started with a 3-year plan is because I was afraid very long reading plans would require too much memory on the computer. However, eventually I successfully made a version of this plan which runs for 10 years (see the Google Drive folder linked above). My computer has a lot of memory, though, so this plan may not work on everyone’s computer.