The Chronological Study Bible- Review

After starting a trial program with The Faith of Barack Obama and Through the Storm, Thomas Nelson has decided to formalize a program of allowing bloggers to receive free copies of books in exchange for a minimum 200 word review. TN does not require positive or negative; only that the book be read through and reviewed. Don't believe me? Here's a negative review of one of their books, with a comment by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson.

When Thomas Nelson rolled out their Book Review Bloggers site, there were 8 books up for review, two of which I had already reviewed. I decided to take on the Chronological Study Bible for review. I figured if I like it, it would be an asset to me. If I didn't like it, it would prove to me that I don't like chronological Bibles. I once downloaded a piece of software called "The Bible Planner." I don't know if it's still available. I never used the calendar, tasks, or other organizer utilities, but it came with a daily Bible reading plan. The Bible was arranged roughly in order. I read it for 3 months, but didn't like it. It was in the King James, which I was using heavily at the time. For some reason, I just stopping liking the trusty old KJV for daily reading (though it's still superior for quoting and memorizing) and settled on the New King James, which is the translation used for Thomas Nelson's Chronological Study Bible.

Reading the Bible chronologically can be a challenge, and I expect that producing a chronological study Bible can be equally as challenging. The book of Psalms, for instance, contains 150 Psalms, which span a timeframe of more than 1000 years. Psalm 90 was written by Moses, whereas a few Psalms were written after the Babylonian Captivity of Israel. When reading the Psalms, it can often be difficult to keep in perspective when and under what circumstances each Psalm was written. Placing them chronologically can provide a great deal of perspective. Reading the prophets outside of historical context can also be difficult. Isaiah’s life was about 80 years, and his ministry spanned the lives of 4 kings. Placing his prophesies into their historical context provides a high degree of utility for studying Isaiah and his fellow prophets. Likewise, the New Testament is not canonically arranged in chronological order. The Chronological Study Bible does place the New Testament into an order. The Gospels are arranged in order of events, and the epistles are arranged roughly in the order in which they were written. Those that were written during the span of the book of Acts are included in Acts, and Paul’s prison epistles are included in order after Acts 28. Jude is arranged before Hebrews.

However, placing the Biblical narrative into chronological order cannot be easy. Even good and committed scholars can disagree over which order certain events in the Bible happened. When I received the Chronological Study Bible, I decided to see where the book of Job was placed in the narrative. I personally hold the view that Job occurred prior to the Exodus of Israel, as there is no evidence in the book of a Torah or Levitical Priesthood or any of the Israelite customs or requirements laid out during that time frame. I decided that this was as good a time as any to explore the tools laid out in the Chronological Study Bible, and on page 1665 I found the Index of Scriptural Passages. This index is laid out in canonical fashion as we would find in most Bibles. I found that Job 1 is on page 901, directly following Proverbs 31. At the top of the page, I find that Job was placed in 586 to 332 B.C. I'll just say that I respectfully disagree on the dating of Job, but you can take that for whatever you believe it's worth. On page xi, the editors state:

Rearranging the Bible is, of course, a fallible human effort. Even those who have earned advanced degrees in the various fields of biblical studies would disagree on any particular rearrangement. The editors of The Chronological Study Bible have been forced at times to make hard decisions, to choose one location at the neglect of another that is equally plausible. In such instances, an honest effort has been made to acknowledge another possible arrangement and to present its case fairly. This allows readers to decide the issues for themselves.

I flipped to the back for some reason, and thought that the maps looked familiar. I thought that perhaps there is a standard stock of study Bible maps that can be used. I went through some of my other study Bibles, and found these exact same maps in the John Hagee Prophesy Study Bible, which by looking at the cover I realized is also a Thomas Nelson product. I looked at some of my other study Bibles and found different maps in them according to the publisher. This isn't a problem; just an observation.

While in the back, I decided to see what other tools were included for study. I found the concordance to be fairly comprehensive for a study Bible. Obviously, it's not Strong's, but it will help you find some high profile words. I decided to test a few, using E-sword for backup in the New King James. I noticed that the concordance in the Chronological Study Bible had one entry for the word "wizards", in Isaiah 8:19. E-sword backs that up. I next randomly picked out the word "watch". The Chronological Study Bible's concordance lists 17 entries. E-sword returned 53. I'm only putting this here for comparison. Most study Bibles aren't known for having superior concordances. This one seems like it will be good if you want to look up a word off the top of your head. You won't be doing extensive word studies from a study Bible concordance. I think this concordance is adequate for what it will be used for in most cases. I don't expect to use it often myself as I have plenty of other tools available.

The Chronological Study Bible is divided into 8 epochs, or time periods. Epochs 8 and 9 cover the New Testament, 8 being the life and ministry of Jesus, and 9 being the Church Age and Revelation. Epochs 1-7 cover the Old Testament. Time Charts and Time Panels are included throughout the study Bible in relevant sections. Maps are also included throughout when they will be helpful. Also included are transition points which appear whenever the order changes (such as II Samuel 12 transitioning to Psalm 51) or when the narrative within a book changes, such as the end of Genesis 20 transitioning to the birth of Isaac in Genesis 21. Also included are some translator's notes. I'm not sure how helpful these actually are. Sometimes when I'm studying in depth, it does help to see notes like "NU text leaves out Christ", but when I'm doing my daily reading I can find those distracting. There are text blocks throughout the study Bible with culture, notes on religion and worship, beliefs and ideas, and in-depth explanations of certain events.

I would surmise that this Bible was developed so that a person could begin in Genesis 1 and read the Bible through on a day to day (or other periodic) basis through to the end. It most likely would make a good daily reader. The chronological organization would make this Bible difficult to use for church or Bible studies. The notes are not designed for in-depth study, but will shed some light for you as you read through the Bible's timeline and cultures. I have several study Bibles, and they often are developed by to meet different objectives. When my wife and I first started attending church (before I became a Christian), she bought me the Promise Keepers Men’s NIV Study Bible. I also have both the Tim LaHaye and John Hagee Prophesy Study Bibles, the John MacArthur Study Bible, The Evidence Bible, the Defender’s Study Bible, and now the Chronological Study Bible. To date, my favorite is the MacArthur Study Bible, which is the most comprehensive. However, each is useful for certain purposes. I would place my recommendation on the Chronological Study Bible for daily reading and surface study. I think it’s very well done, the New King James text is very accurate and readable (a difficult balance to achieve, believe me) and the notes and helps are as I said useful.

I’ll skip my discussion on price. MSRP for the Chronological Study Bible is $44.95. You can purchase it from Amazon, conveniently through my affiliate link above and below, for $29.69 new.

The Chronological Study Bible

Burgundy, Jacketed Hardcover

The Chronological Study Bible is the only study Bible that presents the text of the New King James Version in chronological order-the order in which the events actually happened-with notes, articles, and full-color graphics that connect the reader to the history and culture of Bible times and gives the reader a dramatic, "you are there" experience. Features include translators' notes, full-color illustrations of places, artifacts and cultural phenomena, contextual articles that connect Biblical times and world history and culture, daily l
ife notes, time panels and charts that show the flow of Biblical history and in-text and full-color maps.

  • The entire New King James Bible with translators' notes, arranged in chronological order-the order in which the events and writings actually happened, for absorbing and effective Bible study
  • Full-color illustrations of places, artifacts, and cultural phenomena that give the reader a dramatic, "you are there" experience
  • Fascinating articles that connect the Bible text to world history and culture
  • Daily Life Notes that explain how people lived in Bible times
  • Epoch Introductions and Historical Overviews that provide vivid chronological context
  • Transition Comments that set the stage and prepare the reader for the biblical text that follows
  • "Time Capsules" of world history that accompany the Bible text
  • Time Panels and Charts that show the flow of Bible history
  • In-text and full-page color maps of the biblical world
  • A handy scripture finder index that provides rapid access to any passage
  • Topical Index and Glossary to facilitate study

If you enjoyed this review, read some of my other book reviews here.

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