How Long Will it Take to Read the Bible?
Today I took out a digital timer, a NKJV bible, and started reading aloud at a moderate to quick pace. One can read faster, if one reads silently, but in my opinion, even the pace I read at is the fastest one the average person should read and if they hope to get anything out the effort.
By “moderate but quick pace” I mean something like the speed at which a preacher might read a longer passage of the scriptures from the pulpit when he wants to read an entire chapter but doesn’t want to take up too much time doing so. You can imagine a preacher trying to both cover an entire chapter but also get to a particular verse at the end that he wants to focus on.
Can You Read Aloud 11 Minutes Each Day? You’ll Read the Bible in a Year. Here Are the Numbers. This may not be ideal though; I’ll explain why. Either way, here are the hard facts.
Bible Used: NKJV Ultra Slim Bible from Nelson Publishers (ISBN: 978785200277; you can type the ISBN into Amazon’s search and see it). Its pages have no comments, pictures or footnote apart from the occasional one line of text critical notation.
Method: I read only pages that had full text covering the entire page; without notes, pictures, etc…I read six different sample pages, because reading speed may vary based on genre (i.e. type of literature) being read). Reading a page in the Psalms will go much faster than reading in the Torah or the Epistles. This is due in part to how Hebrew poetry is spaced out in modern Bible typesetting, or how narrative reads more smoothly than Apocalyptic genre.
Obviously I timed each full page. The times of all six were averaged together. This gives a better sense of the time needed to read an average full page of my Bible aloud. (Note: your Bible may have larger font, more pages, different typesetting. Yet the final results for reading the whole Bible will be the same since the number of words in each NKJV should be the same regardless of typesetting.) The Bible I used has 854 pages of actual Bible text.
It took the following lengths of time to read one page aloud at a moderate but quick pace:
- One full page of Pentateuch (Leviticus) – 5:59 min or (359 seconds)
- One full page of the Wisdom Lit (Psalms) – 3:57 min or (237 seconds)
- One full page of the Prophets (Jeremiah) – 4:47min or (287 seconds)
- One full page of the Gospels (Matthew) – 4:29 min or (269 seconds)
- One full page of an Epistle (Ephesians) – 5:06 min or (306 seconds)
- One full page of Apocalyptic (Revelation) – 4:45 min or (285 seconds)
Results And Averages
Average time to read one page: 4:51min or (290.6 seconds)
Minutes needed to read the entire NKJV Bible: 4136 minutes or (248,087 seconds)
Hours needed: 69 hours (58:56 hours:minutes)
Minutes per day needed to read the entire NKJV Bible in a year. 11:20 minutes:seconds
Why This May Not Be Helpful
I was reading absolutely non-stop, at a moderate but quick pace. The reality is that a careful Bible student would read more slowly, and deliberately, pausing… thinking… underlining… and then continuing. The goal of Bible reading is not – to just get it done.
While one could walk through a museum, without stopping, time themselves, and conclude that “One can see the entire museum in 10 minutes”, this would not be the goal of the average museum attendee. The goal is not to get through as quickly as one can. I find that reading at such speeds feels like one is being dragged along at an uncomfortable pace.
So one may wish to double the above times, even triple it to leave time to underline and perhaps look up a quick verse or two. Being more conservative, one could deliberately and carefully read through the Bible in 20-30 minutes a day. Even here we should acknowledge this is reading and not studying a particular passage.
The two are very different endeavors. If one left themselves 30 minutes in the morning before breakfast, with coffee or tea, one could enjoy the entire Bible in a year at a careful and meditative pace of reading.
How the Above Times Are Helpful
What the above does do help us with are planning and motivation. They show us the absolute minimums needed. Those of us who say we have no time, are in fact saying we do not have 11 or 12 minutes in our entire day to sit down, and read aloud. Even this minimal investment would take us (or a family after dinner) entirely through the Bible in one year.
It also helps to plan out those unique things that persons do from time to time; such as plan to read the entire Bible non-stop in public, or on a retreat. Rounding up, 70 hours are needed. If one were to read 10 hours a day, breaking one hour for each meal, one could read the entire Bible in a week if they kept up the above pace.