Chronological And Background Charts Of The Old Testament, by John H. Walton
This has to be the second time that I have bought and read this book, as I am sure another copy of it exists somewhere in one of my libraries, but this is definitely a book that is worth looking at more than once, and worth having in one’s library where one is as an aid to one’s Bible study, especially if one is doing a lot of biblical research on subjects of biblical history and one wants a handy visual representation of matters as a way of making more sense of things like the chronology of the kings of Judah and Israel in your head. While most people would not necessarily read this book for fun, it is the sort of book whose value as a resource and a reference is obvious, and which has been a standard reference for some time and certainly likely for years to come. If this is not a flashy book, and by no means will it create a message for you, the information it provides is very handy for doing Bible study where one wants to see the structure and organization of something in a visual way. Given the way that this book has been recommended multiple times at least in the religious circles I am in, it is certainly a book that has been helpful for others and it is easy to see why this is the case given the information that it provides and its ease of storage and ease of use.
This book has 8 1/2 x 11 pages, roughly, and is a bit less than 1250 pages long. The book is divided into three large sections and numerous smaller ones. For example, after a brief preface the book’s proper contents begin with a discussion about sections of the canon (1). This begins with an introduction on the holy scriptures, which is followed by a look at Genesis, the Pentateuch as a whole, the Bible’s historical literature, battles, poetic literature, and prophetic literature. In each of these sections there are numerous charts and chronologies. After that the author turns his attention to the ancient near east (2), where there are sections on history, archaeology, as well as comparative literature and religion which look at the parallels (and contrasts) between ancient near east literature and the Bible. Finally, the author includes charts that are particularly helpful for use in Bible study (3), including discussions of the text and language of the Bible, a comparison of positions on various disputed issues, theological topics, and an additional and small miscellaneous section (4) of a few charts that include other interesting information, as well as a subject index.
There are, to be sure, some basic ways that this book will be used, but what interests me the most is the way that this book not only looks at internal biblical questions and charts and timing but also the relationship between biblical history and the greater history of the ancient near east. In fact, one of the main reasons why this book was likely revised and expanded in 1994 was to showcase the advances in archaeology that had shown more external evidence of biblical personages, such as the noted Mesha stone and Tel David stela, two give two examples of several. If it would come as pleasant and enjoyable news to you to see ways in which the Old Testament prefigures the New Testament or is confirmed as a serious historical source by archaeological research, this book is definitely one that is worth having, especially since given its length it is not a large or difficult book to carry around. And that gives the book enough value for this reader, at least, to highly recommend it to others who can use it.