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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New Bible Arranged Chronologically

If you've ever read through the Bible, you've probably figured out that not all the books are arranged in chronological order. Rather, they are mostly grouped according to type.

For instance, the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) are attributed to Moses for their authorship, and do run pretty consistently in order. They cover events ranging from "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth..." to preparations for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land.

Other divisions include historical books that primarily record the events of the nation of Israel, such as the Kings and Chronicles. There are the "wisdom" books such as Ecclesiastes, Job and Proverbs. There are the books of the major and minor prophets. There are the Gospels, the historical book of Acts, the epistles of Paul and other apostles, and the prophetic book of Revelation.

While there are definite advantages to this arrangement, it can be difficult for the Bible student who wants to get a feel for the flow of history and events.

For this reason, Christian publisher Thomas Nelson has come up with a new chronological Bible where not just books but passages within books of the Bible are chopped up and rearranged according to their historical sequence.

According to the Christian Post, some people like this approach, while others definitely don't.

"I do think you do lose something when you start demolishing any book of the Bible," said Richard Hess, professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary in Colorado, according to The Tennessean. "You lose the literary and theological context."

I'm currently reading through the new Archaeological Study Bible published by Zondervan. It contains archaeological references on practically every page from countless archaeological sources. Many include references to similar historical notations in other extra-Biblical writings of the ancient world, such as the "serpent motif" mentioned on page 14 of this sample of the Bible.

I would have to read this chronological Bible to form a solid opinion of how I liked such an arrangement...but I would like read the Bible in this manner, and plan to get this new Bible.

I've read through the Bible in it's traditional order several times, and that arrangement does have it's advantages. The divisions by type can help the reader to get into a certain frame of mind to better absorb the type of material being discussed.

But having done that several times, and being an avid fan of history, I'd like to take that journey again in chronological order.

I don't think I would recommend a Bible arranged like this for the new Bible student, but it sounds like it could be an enlightening experience for someone who's traveled the road before and comfortably knows the way.

Maybe I'll try and remember to come back sometime and write about it after I've read the chronological Bible...which could take quite a long time, with my heavy reading list and still working my way through the Archaeological Study Bible.


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