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The Chronological Guide to the Bible

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  • Posted March 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Attractive but Unhelpful

    In an attempt to be all things to all people, Thomas Nelson's The Chronological Guide to the Bible widely misses the mark. The book uses the same chronological progression popularized in the Chronological Study Bible and coupled it with additional information intended to allow the reader to, "See the people, places, and events of the Bible come alive." The book divides biblical history into nine epochs. Each epoch is introduced with a brief historical overview. It goes on to include individual introductions for the biblical books of that time period, as well as outlines, overviews, timelines and relevant historical and archaeological tidbits. The format, design and layout of the book are beautiful. The exceptional graphic design is worthy of far more than the paperback binding.

    If format, design and layout were the criteria used for judging this book, it would be worthy of the highest recommendation. But ultimately, books must be judged on their content-especially biblical reference books. And the content of this book is weak. In an attempt to appeal to the broadest audience possible, the editors chose to present most matters of biblical authorship and dating as open to question. "In the case of debated issues this biblical guide avoids presenting a single, biased, perspective. Rather it treats evenhandedly the entire spectrum of credible opinion on disputed matters-both the views of traditional, conservative Bible students and those of modern, critical scholarship." The only dates and data that are represented concretely is the particular interpretation of archaeological data they present. The entire spectrum of credible opinion is not considered and particular interpretations of archaeological data are presented as indisputable facts. Meanwhile, everything from the route of the Exodus to single authorship of Isaiah to dating The Revelation is called into question. Many informational inclusions are incomplete and misleading at best. For example, the Gilgamesh Epic is presented as being very similar to the flood account in Genesis, when they are in fact completely dissimilar. Likewise, the book of Job is compared to Mesopotamian "Jobs" when in actuality, the stories are opposite in meaning. Those are but two of the many examples of inaccurate or misleading historical "facts" placed alongside the "debatable" historicity of Scripture. In its quest for unbiased evenhandedness, this book is helpful to few and, due to its biased inaccuracies, has the potential for harm.

    Thomas Nelson provided me with a complimentary copy of this book to review. In no way did that influence my opinion of the book or my review.

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