The new Thomas Nelson Chronological Study Bible is more than I expected. Swirling around the publishing date of this new Study Bible was much controversy. Many people were skeptical about it and I admit so was I. However, if you purchase this Bible, I think your skepticism will subside (mine has).
I’ve been pouring myself into this Bible, wandering how long it would take me to review it. However, I can’t approach this as if it were a normal fiction or non-fiction book. For me to read every page of this Bible, and then comment on it would take months. I have though, thoroughly looked at, worked with and studied this Bible. In fact I was up past midnight last night pouring into it! Below is a synoptic view of this Bible, starting with what it is.
Before cracking this Bible open, I expected it to be a Bible set up in the Chronological Authorship of the Scriptures. If this were the case, Job most likely would have been first, it being the first of the Biblical books written. However, the Chronological order is of the Biblical Narrative, not of the authorship. It also follows the narrative History of the entire world, placing the Biblical events into a time line, which we can (due to History class) better place in our minds when it happened. The Bible is divided into Nine Epochs (or ages of the Earth). The Epochs Being: Epoch 1: Creation- 2000 B.C.; Epoch 2: 2000-1500 B.C.; Epoch 3: 1500-1200 B.C.; Epoch 4: 1200-930 B.C.; Epoch 5: 930-586 B.C.; Epoch 6: 586-332 B.C.; Epoch 7: 332-37 B.C.; Epoch 8: 37 B.C.- A.D. 30; Epoch 9: A.D. 30-100.
Within these eras, the Chronological Narrative of the Earth and the Bible is placed. Instead of reading the Scriptures as separate books, this places the entire Bible on one Narrative time line.
I was skeptical at first, because I didn’t know this was the approach of this Study Bible before I read it. I thought it would be the same feel as a normal Bible, so I wandered why I should bother spending my money on a product that simply re-arranged the Bible by the first books written to the last books written. However, placed in this narrative chronology, it brings the Scripture into a whole new light! You can follow for example David and his Psalms. We see an event happening to David and we can see the Psalm written by David, directly after the event! That in and of itself allows me to understand the particular Psalm as well as David better! It opens the eyes of the reader to a whole new plain of Biblical understanding.
I believe that Thomas Nelson has done well with this Bible also, because they understand the importance of story to my generation and the generations after me. Connecting to story is a HUGE way for my generation to connect with God. Placing the Bible in it’s narrative chronological order will speak to people of my generation that a normal Bible won’t.
Also, seeing the Scriptures in this ways brings a depth of Study that other Study Bibles don’t bring. It incorporates the history of the world along side the Biblical History, helping the reader to better understand the cultural context of a particular piece of Scripture.
There are MANY features that I haven’t even mentioned, all of which bring amazing things to this Bible. Some a person could do without, but they are all pretty interesting none-the-less. Here is what you’ll also learn about (taken from back cover): Agriculture and Herding, Architecture and Building, Arts and Literature, Beliefs and Ideas, Cults and Supernatural, Culture and Society, Daily Life and Customs, Food and Drink, Geography and Environment, Health and Medicine, Marriage and Family, Plants and Animals, Politics and Government, Religion an Worship, Science and Technology. All of these features are placed in little boxes or bubbles in and around the text. My only issue is that at points it feels very cluttered and hard to follow. Once you get used to navigating the scriptures as well as these extra boxes and bubbles, it connects and makes sense, but it can be difficult at times.
Lastly, the layout of the Scriptures can be difficult to understand. If you are trying to find a specific passage from memory of where it was in your original Bible, chances are you won’t find it. Unless you look at the very back of the Bible, which gives (in Biblical order) the pages certain portions of scripture can be found. It takes awhile to learn how to use, but once you do, this Bible is quite incredible. Read it as a story and it will make reading/understanding this Bible a whole lot easier.
*PS This Bible was given to me for FREE to review. Thomas Nelson has a Book Review Blogger Group, in which Bloggers can receive for FREE books of their choice. However, the blogger must put a 200 word minimum review of the book on their blog, as well as on Amazon.com. If you are an interested blogger, give a shout and I will send you the link!*