NKJV Chronological Study Bible, by Thomas Nelson Publishers
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
As someone who enjoys the chance to review and examine new Bibles from time to time , I am continually impressed and also puzzled by the level of marketing that goes into Bibles, as well as the intents that different Bibles are made for. Some Bibles are fairly low-frills while other Bibles are designed, at least within the levels permitted by modern printing, to be objects d’art. This book is designed on the artistic level, and from an aesthetic perspective it is immensely pleasant. With a two-toned brown leather cover and fine paper pages with frequent drawings and shaded areas for commentaries of a historical, geographical, or theological nature, the book is one that is pleasing to the eye and also to the mind. This is clearly a Bible that was designed with great care, and the people responsible for its graphic design are worthy of immense praise, as are the people who did the research on historical maps and the factual commentary of the book. The book’s frequent timelines and cross references with other contemporary biblical passages help to put the Bible on a firm and somewhat non-contentious chronological perspective, commenting upon different opinions but seeking not to be drawn into a disputatious spirit and leaving the reader to decide between, for example, different timings of the Exodus after presenting both arguments.
In terms of the contents of this Bible, much of its basics will be familiar with many who are aware of the standard Thomas Nelson format for the NKJV, including its textual apparatus and its marginal notes, which give comments on literal meanings and alternative readings for various verses, as well as cross-references. The real differences from most NKJV versions on the market is in the way that the Bible itself is structured, with a focus on being a chronological Bible, where the Bible’s passages are placed in nine numbered and sequential epochs in the following eras: Before the patriarchs (Creation to 2000 BC), the period of the patriarchs between 2000 and 1500 BC, the rise of a unified Israel from 1500 to 1200 BC, the political centralization from 1200 to 930 BC, the divided kingdom between 930 BC and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC, the exile and post-exilic Persian period from 586 to 332 BC, the intertestamental period between 332 and 37BC, the Messianic age between 37BC and 30 AD, and the early Church between 30 AD and 100 AD. Not all of the choices of chronology are without controversy, such as the placement of Job, for example, in the post-exilic period rather than in the Patriarchal period given the apparent knowledge that David had about the contents of Job  and the placement of the vast majority of the Psalms as well as the latter part of Isaiah in the post-exilic period, neglecting their historical content during the first temple period (or before, in the case of many of David’s psalms). These misplacements of scripture will draw well-deserved criticism from those who have a properly high value of scripture and great criticism towards corrosive higher textual criticism. More praiseworthy to the fair-minded reader will be the book’s large number of maps, explanatory notes, and chronological charts, time capsules, answers to noteworthy textual questions, notes on science and technology, and comments on beliefs and ideas of the biblical contemporaries as best as the Bible’s editors understand them.
Besides these stumbles when it comes to misplacing scripture in the wrong chronological period, there are a few aspects of the book that are worthy of some comment and criticism. For one, the book nowhere conveniently contains an index showing the precise place where passages can be found in order, forcing the reader to hunt around for the placement of widely separated fragments of books that are split across several sections, unless the reader can find the index of scriptures after the concordance. While this is not a problem if the reader of this Bible is expected to view the book in a front-to-back fashion as part of a desire to read the Bible in a year (or some other such scheme), if someone is attempting to use this Bible to follow along with a sermon speaker in church services, the simple task of locating verses is a hazardous and difficult task, and possibly a very embarrassing and unsuccessful one. Additionally, this is a Bible that is designed to be a definitive statement, and does not contain either wide margins or a congenial atmosphere for writing notes within the Bible itself, which would likely make it harder to read the book’s notes or contents and would destroy much of the aesthetic appeal of the Bible itself; this is not a book, in other words, that one will want to highlight or write inspired marginal notes in, which will likely make it less appealing for many readers as well. It should also be noted that like some authors , the editors of this book have repackaged previously published material from the Life and Times Historical Reference Bible of 1997 in this version. Readers who are offended by this sort of repackaging are hereby given due notice of its practice here. This is, in short, a worthy Bible for reading and home study, but a Bible that is not ideal in its adoption of dubious higher criticism or for use as part of one’s participation in public worship.
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