Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Book Review :: The Chronological Study Bible, NIV by Thomas Nelson

The Chronological Study Bible, NIV is a fantastic new study Bible from Thomas Nelson. While the biblical text (Scripture) is ordered based on chronology, this study Bible contains more than just biblical chronology. (Just to clarify, the chronology of this study Bible is based on the timeline of occurrence of events, not that of the time of each book's writing.) This study Bible includes extra-biblical events in timelines, commentary, overviews, and notes. This is incredibly helpful to the reader to be able to place what they are reading within the larger scale of world history.

The Chronological Study Bible is divided into 9 epochs (periods of time), with every verse of the Bible included. Epochs 1-7 include the books of the Old Testament, and Epochs 8 & 9 include the books of the New Testament (Epoch 8 contains the 4 gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). The individual books of the Bible do not always appear as a whole piece (such as they do in the re-ordering of the books in The Books of the Bible, NIV by Biblica/Zondervan), but many have pieces of different books mixed together to provide a full look at the time. (In The Chronological Study Bible, for example, the Psalms are placed throughout Epochs 3-6.) The arrangement in The Chronological Study Bible differs from that of The One Year Chronological Bible, NIV by Tyndale. (For example, The One Year Chronological Bible places portions of 1 Chronicles and the book of Job among the text of Genesis, while The Chronological Study Bible presents Genesis-Ruth uninterrupted). Transitions in the chronology of The Chronological Study Bible are clearly marked and include a small explanation. As with any chronological ordering of Scripture, there are bound to be people who disagree with the timeline and ordering - but overall, the impact of reading this way is going to be beneficial. I highly recommend reading the sections at the beginning of The Chronological Study Bible ('Introduction', 'Reading Theological History', and 'Rearranging the Bible's Canonical Order') to get a better understanding for why the passages were arranged in the way that they were.

The Chronological Study Bible places many helpful glances at time throughout the scriptures in the form of 'Time Panels' (which are portions of a time line), 'Time Capsules' (which include "events inside and outside of the Bible"), and 'Time Charts' (which are "visual overviews of important chronological topics in the Bible").

There are 47 in-text (full color) maps included, with additional maps in the back. (The maps in the back are the maps you would traditionally find in a Bible, on thicker paper.) The pages of The Chronological Study Bible feel a bit thicker than traditional Bible pages, but are thinner than regular book pages - and have a coated, magazine-type quality to them. Every page is full color and beautiful to look at. (The pages have a similar style to the pages of The Archaeological Study Bible by Zondervan - the "old page" design.) I've included a picture on the right for those who may be curious about text size and page appearance.

In addition to the chronological ordering, timelines, and maps, The Chronological Study Bible includes many interesting study notes - clearly indicated in the design of the pages so that the reader can know they are reading study notes/commentary and not Scripture. The study notes are well written and easy to understand, and provide a good background for the Bible text.

Additional features include daily reading plans (for 1 year or 2 years - the 2 year plan is divided up the same as the 1 year plan...just with double the time), an index of Scripture passages (in canonical order), and index of cultural and historical topics, and more.

Here is my simplified pro/con breakdown:
- Includes world history
- Full color pages
- In-text maps
- Timelines throughout
- Good size concordance (119 pages)
- Listing of 'Cultural & Historical Topics'

- Hardcover has a fake printed "leather" look - I would have preferred the image on the dust jacket to be on the cover instead
- Many picture inserts throughout do not have a description or explanation. (For example, on the picture I included to show text scale - the image is of water/rocks, and only by reading the text on the facing page with the story of the water from the rock does this picture placement make sense.)

Here is my simplified great for/not so great for breakdown:
Great For:
- Personal study & growth
- Those interested in chronological history (I think this is a great resource for homeschoolers who are studying history in a chronological order)
- Those interested in how world history and biblical history fit together
- Help in understanding the context of Scripture

Not So Great For:
- Following along in church or Bible studies (it would be much harder to find the passage you are looking for)
- Those who are opposed to breaking up the text of the individual books and mingling it with others. (Although I do recommend that you read the introductory sections and give the contributors a chance to explain why they have done so.)

All in all, The Chronological Study Bible is truly a useful tool for studying the Bible, reading the scriptures, and I highly recommend it as an addition to any bookshelf.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

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