Continuing with my list of helpful items to start a New Year, today I’ll mention The Chronological Study Bible: New King James Version from Thomas Nelson.
Through my life, like many Christians, I’ve read the Scriptures from various perspectives. For too many years, it was a Law-heavy rulebook, filled with long lists of things to do (or don’t). In recent times, it’s been more of a relationship-strengthening love letter. It’s definitely classic literature and food for the philosophical mind. And while there’s a valued place for serious scholarship, the Bible is ultimately so much more than a textbook.
It’s a story. It has a beginning, an ending, and an awful lot going on in the middle (albeit, with some very long periods of seeming inaction).
It’s more of an epic, really, but how often is it read that way? We certainly don’t start novels or biographies in the middle and then skip around with no regard to history or plot.
Here’s a bit from a reviewer that makes an excellent point:
Can you imagine reading through a book of American History that was out of order? Let’s say the narrative started with man stepping on the moon, then moved to the war of 1812, then to the Great Depression, then the signing of The Declaration of Independence and next to the War Between the States, finally ending with the Golden Era of Industry beginning in the 1900′s. You would indeed have individual stories of historical fact about America and Americans, but it would be difficult to fully see the grand picture of the historical timeline of the USA. The bible most of us read and study from everyday is much the same way. Each book is truth and points to The Truth but, many times the narrative timeline is out of order.
The Chronological Bible does much to alleviate the problem. The editors carefully attempt to move books, chapters and verses of scripture from their canonical location to a location in the narrative that best reflects the historical order of the story of the bible, God and Jesus.
You will see and experience the beauty of the bible narrative in a new way. Freed from the canonical order, the bible becomes a giant story novel of God and His relationship with His planet and creation. (quoted in Frank Viola’s post that first exposed me to this volume)
I’ve read the Bible through many times, often following read-through-in-a-year guides (here’s an interesting one, if you’re into that). Even with an intermediate-to-advanced level of Bible knowledge, I’d sure hesitate before trying to place characters in a precise historical context, and I am certain that I’d not be able to recreate a timeline of events with more than 50% accuracy. It’s high time to end the confusion and, literally, get the story straight.
I chose this particular tool because of the added features like historical commentary and scholarly charts and graphs sprinkled through the text, and because the NKJV is one of my preferred options for study. (My favorite is the English Standard Version; while there are reading plans available that arrange the ESV text in historical order, I really wanted something that was already laid out for me in sequence, bound in one volume, and included robust study helps.)
This year, I’m really excited about reading the Bible as a narrative story for the first time. I’m looking forward to seeing history unfold in an orderly way through the Old Testament, and to understanding the thoughtful progression of theological concepts in the New Testament.
Have you ever read the Bible chronologically? I’d love to hear about your reading plans for 2013!