Friday, April 29, 2016

NKJV, The Chronological Study Bible from Zondervan, 2016

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The Chronological Study Bible presents the text of the New King James Version in chronological order - the order in which the events actually happened - with notes, articles, and full-color graphics that connect the reader to the history and culture of Bible times. It is the only NKJV study Bible arranged in chronological order.
Features include:
The entire NKJV text with translators’ notes, arranged in chronological order, provides absorbing and effective Bible study
Full-color illustrations of places, artifacts, and cultural phenomena give the reader a dramatic, “you are there” experience
Fascinating articles connect the Bible text to world history and culture
Daily Life Notes explain how people lived in Bible times
Time Panels and Charts show the flow of Bible history
In-text and full-page color maps of the biblical world assist study

(1728 pages)

I've been fascinated by the idea of reading the Bible chronologically for . . . maybe two years now? One day the idea just popped into my head: it would be so cool to read the Bible in the order that it was actually written. I talked my brother into joining me on a "read the Bible in two years" challenge, with a document I'd printed off of the internet that listed daily readings in chronological order. But you know how it is - life happened, I got busy, and soon I fell so far behind I felt guilty even looking at the reading schedule. It's been so long since I worked on it that when I went to find the sheet to figure out where to start reading in this Bible, I couldn't even find it. I guess my only consolation is that my brother stopped remembering to do it before I did!

Anyway, when I saw that BookLook Bloggers had some chronological Bibles available for review, I immediately shifted my review schedule so I could clear up a credit on the site to request one when it came out. I even seriously considered requesting two Bibles, one in each of the colors, because I'md developing quite the Bible-collecting fetish and because maybe my brother would be motivated to start reading with me again if I gave him a cool new chronological Bible. I decided it would be wrong to take two Bibles when I only needed one to write this review (considering they're identical in all but the cover), so I just stuck with this one. And what a joy it is!

I mean, honestly, this Bible is everything I could have hoped for. It has a beautiful soft-bound faux leather cover in calm shades of brown (which are lighter than the ones in the picture, BTW), and a pretty light brown ribbon I can use to mark my place. Right there it's already leaps and bounds ahead aesthetically when compared to the two Bibles I've gotten the chance to review in the past - both of those were hard-bound, with no ribbons, and had frankly ugly covers. This is a dignified Bible that actually looks like people would use it in a Bible study, whereas the others looked like Bibles they'd hand out to church newcomers or something.

Once you actually crack the spine, there's a plethora of details that put the biblical events in a historical context. Rather than being divided into the traditional "books of the Bible," because it's a chronological Bible it's organized into nine epochs that literally cover every time period from creation to the end times. Each epoch begins with a page or two of explanations that describe what we know about the time periods covered by that epoch. Scattered throughout the text are further details and explanations in areas like art, beliefs, science, etc., as well as boxes that answer questions raised by the text. If you're looking for a particular verse or word, there's a large concordance and a passage index that can help you find whatever you're looking for; there are also plans for a one-year and a two-year reading plan (which I definitely think I'll give another go), and a few pages for writing notes if you're a note-writing sort of Bible reader (I am not).

Honestly, the only real trouble I have with this Bible is the translation itself. Now don't be me wrong, I haven't got anything against the NKJV. The trouble, though, is that the translators had to add a few words to the text to make many of the sentences actually make sense. And when they did, they didn't just say "this is a translation, so we had to add some words here or there to make it readable." No, they said "we'll add all these words, but we'll put them in italics so you know that they're not original." And that's fine for people who care about which words are original and which ones the translators added, but it does make for some choppy reading when every few lines I come across some really funky italics in the middle of some otherwise ordinary sentence about, like, heads of sheep or something. Because they're not "heads of sheep," they're "heads of sheep." I can get used to it, but I do wish that the italics weren't there.

Anyway, if you have any questions about this Bible that I didn't answer feel free to leave them in the comments section below. And if you've ever tried to read the Bible chronologically, let me know how it went or if you have any tips!

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program.

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