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1189 Chapters


First day back at work today so time to get my geek on. I now know that the Bible (*) has 1189 chapters. Furthermore, I didn’t derive that figure by laboriously counting them by hand but I set a computer to work to figure out the answer. In fact, that was a trivial task (wc -l booklist.txt) using a standard Linux command line tool; what took more work was deriving the book list in the first place.

I started with a Google search for bible books and chapters and the first link, to a listing of all the books and chapters of the NIV version on the BibleGateway site, was ideal. That gave a tabular result, with book names in column one and chapter numbers in column two. Copying and pasting this into a text file showed that there was a space and a tab after the book name and a space between each chapter number. I used vim to simplify that space and tab to a tab (%s/ \t/\t/) but realised that the task was complicated by the fact that some book names include spaces (such as 1 Corinthians) so it was time to break out a proper programming tool.

My choice was Python and I used the iPython3 program to interactively work up a short script. The resulting code (reading from a file called biblebooks.txt and outputting to booklist.txt) was as follows:

bbdata = open('biblebooks.txt','r').read().strip().split('\n')
bl = open('booklist.txt','w')
for line in bbdata:
   book = line[:line.find('\t')]
   chapters = line[line.find('\t') + 1:]
   for chapter in chapters.split():
      bl.write('unread\t{} {}\n'.format(book,chapter))

The result was a list that looks like:

unread Genesis 1
unread Genesis 2

unread Revelation 22

which I have pasted into Evernote. I can now use this to keep tabs on what I have read (by deleting “un” from the chapters covered). The structured format also means I can easily copy and paste back into a Linux environment if I want to get a report on my progress. In the past I have used a sequential reading list (just the New Testament last year and the whole Bible the year before that and in several previous years) but the advantage of this method is that I can mark in everything that comes in via following a Daily Office, attending church services and other sources to help me cover all the ground and limit the patches when I try to speed read chunks just to keep up with the plan.

(*) Standard Protestant edition, such as the NIV or NASB, so no deuterocanonical or further apocryphal material included


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