Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Bible Review: NKJV Chronological Study Bible
The Chronological Study Bible (2008) (NKJV) is not my first experience with a chronological bible. I received The Narrated Bible In Chronological Order (NIV) in 1999, and for a few years, this was the one bible I'd try to read through each year. I agree that this "chronological" reading might take some adjusting on the mindset of the reader. But I feel it's an invaluable way to read--or reread--the Word of God.
Later, I even had (for a short while) The So That's Why Bible (2001). Which turned out to be a quick-name-change from a Bible my mother had purchased a year or two before titled, The Life and Times Historical Reference Bible (1997). Both of those later books were the New King James Version.
So when I first saw The Chronological Study Bible in stores, my thoughts were is this really new?
The answer? Yes and no. There are portions of this Bible that were originally published in The Life and Times Historical Reference Bible. But there is new material as well.
First, let me say that I have no problem with them reprinting and retitling an old book. Unless your family is like my family--you probably don't have a copy of practically every bible that's been released in the past thirty years. The other book is out of print and unavailable, so why not bring it back?
The book has had quite a face lift, let me tell you. It's been redesigned. They just weren't publishing Bibles like this ten or fifteen years ago. Everything is in color. And not just one or two colors. (While formerly Bibles may have made use of some color--some more successful than others--I mean colors. For example, there have been a few Bibles printed all in purple or all in turquoise or all in blue, etc.) This is more than a small number of colored maps at the end of the Bible. This is a fully colorized, heavily illustrated bells-and-whistles edition of the Bible. The end result is very attractive. It's visually pleasing.
The translation. This is the New King James. It's published by Thomas Nelson. Personally, I probably own more copies of this translation than any other--but that is because they consistently offer the best and the most in study bibles. Other translations, I feel, are perhaps better for my own uses. But there's a certain familiarity about the translation after using it for so long. That familiarity can be a good thing. There are other chronological bibles--NIV, KJV, and NLT. Which means that you've got a few options. I would encourage anyone to try out a translation before buying it. Because honestly, if you're going to spend the money for a bible, it should be the one that you will actually want to use. So be practical. Owning the Bible in and of itself doesn't do you much good unless you actually read it, use it, study it, enjoy it.
The pages. I don't want my pages too thin. I don't want to be able to read the other side. This one appears to use good, quality paper. This shouldn't be a problem. It's two column format. The inner columns--closer to the spine of the book--are more difficult to read than I'd like. But this is a standard problem facing most hardback Bibles. Leather bibles, I feel, have more flexibiity and are of better quality--typically--and are in some ways easier to read. The top corners of the pages are stuck together--this happens often whether in hardback or leather--and they should become unstuck with the actual reading of the Bible. You have to use it to make it user-friendly.
The arrangement. It's too soon to say on the arrangement of the chronology. The introductory notes warn that there is some degree of uncertainty when it comes to assigning dates and times to books. And that there are legitimate alternative theories on some of the placements. As I said, it's too soon to say. I doubt there is anything too major (or minor) to stress over.
One thing that seems obvious but I'll mention it nonetheless is that the arrangement does differ from the traditional bible. At times this means: moving whole books, moving portions of books, and/or combining portions of books. Examples? Some of Paul's letters (epistles) are inserted within the book of Acts. The gospels are whole, but wholly combined. Just to give you an idea of what I mean--here is the presentation of Christ's birth and childhood beginning with John 1:1-18, followed by Luke 1:1-80, then Matthew 1:1-25, then Luke 2:1-38, then Matthew 2:1-23, then Luke 2:39-51, etc. That brings us to John the Baptist.
This rearranging may be beneficial and helpful in private study. But it might not make the best choice for bringing to Sunday School classes, Bible Studies, and Church Services.
I actually feel, however, that it would be fun to read through the Bible chronologically as a group for Bible Study. It's something I'm considering (I teach an adult class) for when I finish my current study.
It would make an excellent gift for any occasion--be it birthday, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, confirmation, baptism, etc.
From the publisher:
* 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