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Thinking About a Chronological Bible?

December 26, 2013

On Sunday evenings at our church I teach a small passage of Scripture and then open the floor for questions. After an awkward minute or two of silence, and after some prodding, the floodgates open as the questions come from all directions. Two weeks ago a really good question came in and I answered it there, but I felt it would be good to take a moment to share the question and my answer here.

Q. I have heard about Chronological Bibles. I am wondering, would you recommend one? What are they good for?

A. That is a wonderful question. Here in America we have almost as many choices for Bibles as we do for fast food and the Chronological Bible is a unique on the Bible landscape. I will take a moment to answer your question.

For those who are not sure what a Chronological Bible is, it is a Bible which takes the text of the Bible and, for lack of better words, cuts-and-pastes it in the chronological order of the events occurrence. In other words, it puts each verse in the historical order of the events it describes. For example, in the Old Testament you may find of a verse of 1 Kings next to a verse from one of the prophets and one of the wisdom books.

What is the Chronological Bible good for? The strength of the chronological nature of this type of Bible is found in the Old Testament. It paints a fairly clear picture of the historical events and how the prophets fit in with the kings and the events surrounding each party. In a way, it turns the Old Testament into a historical account of the Israelites. This is the great strength of this type of Bible.

Are they weakness to this type of Biblical approach? There sure is! Sound Bible study requires you consider the text as it was intended for the original audience, or receiver. The Chronological Bible frequently fails in this account because of its nature of the parsing different passages together to maintain chronological integrity. This is clearly an issue in its presentation of the Gospels. The Gospel authors had four different target audiences in mind for the writings. When they are all piecemealed together for chronological purposes you lose the integrity of the teaching.

Would I recommend a Chronological Bible? I would recommend one to those who are having trouble putting all of the historical accounts of the Old Testament in order. I would recommend one to someone who wants to see how the four gospels fit together in a chronological fashion. Under those two circumstances, I feel this type of Bible might be useful. If you do not fall into either of those categories, pass on this type of Bible and save your money.

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