Monday, June 28, 2010

Chronological Guide to the Bible

In a unique approach to the Bible, this book lays out history from Creation to A.D. 100 in nine epochs. Into each epoch is fit each book of the Bible, with an outline of each book and a summary of authorship, date, purpose and audience. So, for example, Epoch One includes sections called “Before the Patriarchs”, “The Beginnings of Human Civilization”, and then “The Book of Genesis”, with subsections, “The Creator God is Not Sun or Moon,” “Where was Eden?”, “Records of the Descendants,” “The Flood Through Other Eyes”, “The First World Empire,” “The First Major City,” and “Babel and Its Tower.”

Much information about world history and world cultures is included in this book. Because of the book’s layout, which, instead of looking like chapters, appears more like patchwork on pages, both in content and in style, the book reads like a research or resource book rather than a textbook. It is not a book easily read from cover to cover but more the kind of book you pick up as you begin to study a book of the Bible so that you gain a little insight into historical context.

The sections on the epistles often include just a couple of subjects in addition to the summary and outline, so the intent of this book is obviously not to provide extensive commentary. For example, the section on Ephesians includes only one topical section, “Wives Submitting to Husbands”.

The Guide is 217 pages for the Bible’s 66 books, so it is does not aim to be exhaustive.

I do not believe this book would be helpful to someone not thoroughly acquainted with the Bible. The brevity of some of the commentary assumes the reader has a broad background of Bible knowledge. For example, one of the sections for Acts is called “The Day of Pentecost,” and it begins, “The Day of Pentecost came 50 days after the offering of the firstfruits (Lev. 23:10, 15, 16) at the Passover observances. It was a celebration of the wheat harvest, with pilgrims gathering from various nations of the Roman world. . . .” I think only someone acquainted with the Old Testament would understand this; a new(ish) believer likely would not be enlightened.

I recommend this guide to those who need a little brushing up on the background of each biblical book.

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