The Chronological Study Bible (NKJV) by Thomas Nelson Publishers, is a very well done study Bible. The hardback book is beautifully designed with color and graphics on every page. In fact, pages without some kind of article or note are few and far between. The Bible is arranged chronologically, which means individual books and the order of groups of books are arranged according to a chronological ordering. Sometimes this is done according to the presumed date a book was written, often it relates to what time period the section describes. In any case, the Chronological Study Bible will always let you know why each section is included where it is.
What makes the book valuable for study are the many discussions of the history, customs and culture of the time period that the Scripture is addressing. Many parallels are drawn between ancient near-eastern culture and the writings of Scripture. Key archaeological finds which often testify to the historical veracity of Scripture are described or even pictured. Time-lines are given for the Biblical events as well as historical events of that same era.
I flipped through every page of this massive volume (1600+ pages), and read or skimmed through each article. It is both fascinating and educational, and brings the Bible alive. Such a view of the historical time-frame of Scripture, however, does bring up some questions. The introduction highlights this fact and explains that this study Bible “takes with equal seriousness the views of traditional, conservative Bible students and those of modern, critical scholarship.” (pg. xi) It doesn’t try to “persuade readers that one particular view is correct”, leaving that for the reader to decide.
This in my mind is the only real drawback of the book. In the main the Chronological Study Bible presents multiple views on various issues (such as the dates for the Exodus), but occasionally the perspective shared is not what I’d agree with. Sometimes the notes state that the Bible borrowed concepts from previous cultures, and the role of inspiration is ignored. See for instance the discussion of Satan on pg. 902. It also presents a consistent egalitarian view regarding the role of women in the church, in the notes on the relevant passages.
Often, however, the historical insights enlighten the text and help the reader better understand what’s going on. There’s a fascinating discussion of the phrase “offspring of vipers” on pg. 1124 which stands as a positive example in this light.
Ultimately, those who are serious Bible scholars will find this resource very helpful. And these kinds of questions do need to be addressed and thought through. For new Christians, an uncritical endorsement of this book may not be best, however. In every other respect this study Bible far exceeded my expectations.
I encourage you to check out the Bible for yourself at chronologicalstudybible.com. You’ll find a preview and other great information on the study Bible there. You can also order a copy of the Chronological Study Bible at Amazon.com.
This review is also available in pdf format at CrossFocusedReviews.com.