Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review - NKJV Chronological Study Bible

The Chronological Study Bible (New King James Version) by Thomas Nelson Publishers is an outstanding resource for those who want to explore the Bible in a fresh and novel way. A chronological Bible arranges chapters and passages of the Bible in chronological order (rather than canonical order), which at times presents quite a challenge for the authors. This particular chronological Bible does a very good job at arranging the Bible in historical order and in providing a great wealth of supplemental material about the historical and cultural contexts. It earns the title of a study Bible due to a variety of notes, charts, pictures, and maps. While it does not replace a traditional Bible or study Bible (e.g. one with extensive cross-references and grammatical notes), it provides an excellent supplement for the reader who wishes to better see the dynamic landscape of scripture from creation to the end times.

How are the materials arranged? The study Bible starts with a number of introductory notes about the chronology and about the NKJV, then the text itself is broken down into nine epochs: Before the Patriarchs, Time of the Patriarchs, Rise of a Unified People, From Tribes to a Nation, The Fall of Two Nations, Exile and Return, Between the Two Testaments, The Coming of the Messiah, and The Church Age. At the end are several nice articles on historical and cultural topics, a generous concordance, and a (very important) index of scripture passages which is needed to find where a given verse is located in the book.

The quality of the book and of the notes is really quite good. The paper is extremely thin, but durable, and the book is well bound. The format of short articles with relevant historical and cultural info right alongside the biblical text is not only useful, but highly engaging. At each point where there is a change of book or other break in the narrative, the study Bible has a "Transition" section that I found very helpful in keeping the narrative flowing, as well as in alerting the reader that they're entering a new book of the Bible. That sounds trivial for a regular Bible but it's important for a chronological ordering which might go back and forth between two or more books of the Bible. Some other highlights I enjoyed: Historical Charts on other Kingdoms (like the Timeline of Persian Kings), frequent Time Capsules of key historical events, the use of a large number of small maps directly on the pages next to scripture rather than a small number of large reference maps in an appendix, and a lot of material on the influence of Greek and Roman culture. It was particularly interesting to read through New Testament books and missionary journeys via the interspersing of chapters of Acts along with Galatians, James, Thessalonians and others.

For in-depth understanding of the meaning of the text and for discipleship Bible study there are better tools available, but this book serves its purpose well in helping us understand the historical flow of the events of scripture, and in given us a better understanding of the cultural background present in the lives of biblical characters. As supplemental study material, or for those looking to read through the Bible in a year, this NKJV Chronological Study Bible is an excellent and enjoyable resource. The retail price is $44.99 (Hardcover), and is available at places like Amazon for $29.69.

(Disclaimer: As a blogger I received a free review copy - no requirement to give it a positive review, just for the reviewer to call it like they see it. It took a while to get to get through the bulk of it!)


Theresa said...

Bible should always start with a capital B.

Larry Baxter said...

You're right - sorry I missed that! I've edited the post to correct this.