Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Beautiful, Flawed Bible

Tyndale recently sent me a free hardback copy of their new Chronological Life Application Study Bible for review.  For someone like me who loves books in general, and the Bible specifically, this book is hard not to like.
  • It's beautiful.  Full color throughout: photographs of Bible places, paintings, parchments, charts.  It's not only a book, it's a work of art.  It is by far the most aesthetically pleasant Bible I have ever seen.
  • It's heavy.  If you like Bibles that feel solid (I do), this is definitely one!
  • It's helpful.  There are tons of notes, a concordance, color maps, etc.
  • It's unique.  The biggest selling point of this Bible is that it is arranged chronologically, not in the traditional canonical order.  For example, Job is placed between Genesis and Exodus.  The Psalms are interspersed with David's life in 1 and 2 Samuel.  Samuel and Kings are interwoven with parallel passages in Chronicles.  The four gospels are interwoven, making it easy to compare each gospel writer's account of each story.  The epistles are inserted in the appropriate places in Acts.
Having said that, there are several weaknesses in this Bible.
  • The very fact that it is arranged chronologically becomes an irritating slowdown if you are trying to find a particular passage.  Despite the extensive canonical table of contents in the beginning, it's not a Bible you would take to church or Bible study, where you want to be able to find passages fast.  I think I would enjoy this Bible much more if it were arranged canonically.
  • There are also disadvantages to blending the four gospels into one.  Each gospel writer aimed to bring out specific aspects of Jesus' ministry and character.  Each author's sequence and selection of stories from Jesus' life were not random, but carefully planned.  This gets lost in the "combined" version.
  • Tyndale has only released this Bible in the KJV and NLT, both of which are inferior for serious study to the ESV, HCSB, or NASB.  It has no cross references.  In this sense, it is not a true study Bible. 
  • While overall the commentary notes are accurate and concise, there are evidences of a bent towards evangelical liberalism.  The notes on Genesis leave room for theistic evolution, and the notes on the role of women in church lean towards egalitarianism rather than complementarianism.
So how would this Bible best be used?  Who should buy one?  A person who is seeking to absorb a lot of information about the Bible efficiently.  Such a person would gain a very broad and organized education by reading through the entire Chronological Life Application Study Bible from cover to cover.  It is not a Bible to keep on the shelf for occasional reference; it's a Bible to read through carefully, and then pass on to a friend.  If you would like my copy, let me know!

For more information, check out the video.

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