A Review of The Chronological Study Bible
A REVIEW OF THE CHRONOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE
All Scripture quotations in this review are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. Original work copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1998, Parsons Technology, Inc., all rights reserved.
I recently saw an advertisement for The Chronological Study Bible, published in 2008 CE by Thomas Nelson, Inc. of Nashville, Dallas, Mexico City, and Rio De Janeiro. I asked them for a copy to review on my blog. Pleasantly surprised, they sent me a beautifully bound hardback New King James Version. Just pulling the Book out of the box, I was impressed by its solid weightiness. This Bible is ready for serious use by the serious Bible student. Holding this Bible in my hands, I realize I’m not equipped to review the Word of Yahweh. Who am I? just a student of His Holy Word, not a scholar or academician. At first glance, this big Book could intimidate the casual reader, but there appears to be plenty of information to sink your spiritual teeth into. 1,430 pages of Scriptures, with hundreds of notes and time charts included within those pages. It has a 195-page concordance and an index to Scripture references with page numbers, necessary since Thomas Nelson rearranged the canonical order of the books and passages of the Bible into a reasonable chronological order. The rearrangement of canonical books and passages of Scripture was a bold step out of religiosity, which I personally feel was about 1,900 years overdue. Kudos to Thomas Nelson, Inc. for making the “it’s about time” decision to rearrange the canon into chronological order. That alone makes this Bible worth purchasing.
Thomas Nelson, Inc. took on a monumental task in publishing a Bible in chronological order. I quote from page xi of the Introduction, “The goal of The Chronological Study Bible is not to replace the time-honored canonical arrangement, but instead to honor time as the setting in which the biblical record appeared.” The end-time arrival of The Chronological Study Bible ensures that Thomas Nelson, Inc. has met that goal. Since we are entering the time of the end, it’s time for the people of Yahweh to understand the times. This Bible should help Yahweh’s children gain spiritual understanding in the historical context of our presently degenerating world.
The Chronological Study Bible is divided into nine epochs, defined on page x of the Introduction as “a period of time that is characterized by peculiar features or events.” I believe this is a brilliant way to present Yahweh’s holy Word. It provides a framework for the flow of Yahweh’s interaction with humans throughout our history. Kudos to Thomas Nelson, Inc., for making that epochal decision, another great reason to buy this Book. A friend introduced me to the Hebrew lunar calendar back in 2005 CE. Once I started studying and learning about biblical calendars, time, and Yahweh’s purpose for the sun, moon, and stars, I was irretrievably hooked on Bible history and chronology. My background is in accounting, so I know a date stamp when I see one, well, once my spiritual eyes are opened to it anyway. Another quote from page xi of the Introduction, “One goal of The Chronological Study Bible is to help Bible readers join the scholars’ quest for historical truth.” Ok, count me in. I love the truth. I love Yahweh’s truth more each day I live. Reading the Scriptures in a chronological order allows the reader to enter history, get into the heads and lives of the people writing the Word and into the lives of those whom they are writing to and about. In your spiritual imagination, you can now experience the white-hot fiery furnace with Yeshua and the three sons of Israel. You need to get used to living in the fiery furnace, because life for Yahweh’s believers is soon to get seven times hotter for seven times (years). As Hebrews 4:12 states the Word of Yahweh is living, The Chronological Study Bible brings the Word to life like no other printed Bible I know of. Your Bible reading now becomes a “you are there” experience.
There is an extensive amount of information packed into this volume. Included are transition commentaries between passages, epoch introductions, historical overviews, background notes, daily life insights, time panels, time capsules, time charts, maps, cultural and historical topics, a glossary, the concordance and the index of scripture passages, and more. Thomas Nelson even included a one-year and two-year reading plan. Over 1,700 total pages, enough material to keep the Bible student devouring the Word for years to come. The New King James Version is my favorite version today, so I’m a little biased toward it. Now I’m imagining The Chronological Study Bible in a digital format, that is a product I would love to see in my lifetime. Imagine your favorite Scripture version in a printed and/or digital chronological format.
This review would not be complete without sharing some of the negative side of the equation. This may give the reader an appreciation of the difficulty scholars have in producing a chronological Bible. On page xv of the Introduction we read, “The Chronological Study Bible adapts the system of dates for the kings found in The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings by Edwin R. Thiele.” My heart sank a bit when I read that, because Dr. Thiele’s work has some serious flaws, as does any work by any man. One example is where Dr. Thiele relates King Hezekiah’s 14th year to the 3rd year of then Assyrian King Sennacherib. The 3rd year of Sennacherib was 702 BCE. 2 Kings 18:10, “And at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken.” (emphasis mine throughout) 2 Kings 18:10 is what is known as a synchronism. The ninth year of Hoshea was 723 BCE, the year Samaria was captured and the northern 10 tribes of Israel were hauled off to Assyria by co-regent King Sennacherib, acting as tartan for his father, King Sargon II, thus ending the northern kingdom of Israel. A simple calculation then reveals that the 14th year of Hezekiah cannot be any later than 715 BCE, the year co-regent Sennacherib first assaulted the southern kingdom of Judah, as tartan for his father, Sargon II, king of Assyria. During the co-regency of Sennacherib with his father Sargon, crown prince Sennacherib reigned from Nineveh in Assyria, while King Sargon II reigned from Khorsabad, Babylon. 702 BCE, the 3rd year of Sennacherib is then shown to be the 27th year of Hezekiah, not his 14th. There are many more proofs, but do you see how difficult it is to write a chronology, especially when you have co-regencies involved? It’s difficult to sort out events of different, but related individuals. The men and women involved in the writing of Bible chronology deserve our praise and respect. Any Bible chronology written by any man can be refined, updated, and corrected in the pursuit of Yahweh’s truth.
I was tipped off to Hezekiah’s 14th year dilemma through the research and books of Mr. Eugene W. Faulstich of the now inactive Chronology History Research Institute in Ruthven, Iowa. Mr. Faulstich used astronomical computer software and calendar conversion programs to tie down many anchor dates in the Scriptures. You can find out about his work and books at: http://biblechronologybooks.com
Again, look at page 526 in the Chronological Study Bible. According to Thiele’s timeline, which the CSB adopts, Hezekiah’s first year was 715 BCE. But look at what the Scriptures clearly teach in 2 Kings 18:1, “Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign.” Hoshea’s 3rd year was 729 BCE, not 715 BCE. 715 BCE was eight years after Hoshea was deposed!! Thiele’s work is shown to be 14 years off in synchronizing the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah.
Another point about Hezekiah’s 14th year relates to the article in the Chronological Study Bible on page 654 regarding Merodach-Baladan of Babylon. In 715 BCE, Hezekiah’s 14th year, Hezekiah was gravely ill. Merodach-Baladan, alive and well in 715 BCE, sent him letters and a present per 2 Kings 20:12, “At that time Berodach-Baladan (Merodach-Baladan) the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick.” In 704 BCE, during Sennacherib’s 1st year as sole king of Assyria, Sennacherib drove Merodach-Baladan out of Babylon into the swamplands, where he was never heard from again, another proof that Hezekiah’s 14th year and Sennacherib’s 3rd year were not the same year.
No translation of the Scriptures is perfect. Look at 1 Chronicles 5:26 on page 964 of the Chronological Study Bible, “So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, that is, Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria. He carried the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh into captivity. He took them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan to this day.” If you look at any good literal translation of this verse, it shows that in the Hebrew it reads better as “the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, and the spirit of Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria”, clearly showing that Pul and Tiglath-Pileser III are two distinctly different individuals. Pul of the Scriptures, uncle to Tiglath-Pileser, was Assyrian King Ashur-dan III, also known as Ashur-danin-pal III, who ascended the throne of Assyria back in 773 BCE, almost 30 years before his nephew Tiglath-Pileser became king. Pul began carrying off the Israelite tribes east of the Jordan River back in 765 BCE. He attacked again 10 years later in 755 BCE, when Menahem, king of Israel, paid him tribute according to 2 Kings 15:19-20, “Pul king of Assyria came against the land; and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that his hand might be with him to strengthen the kingdom under his control. 20And Menahem exacted the money from Israel, from all the very wealthy, from each man fifty shekels of silver, to give to the king of Assyria. So the king of Assyria turned back, and did not stay there in the land.” Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, 9.11.1, makes a clear distinction between Pul and Tiglath Pileser III. Pul harassed Jeroboam II, king of Israel in 765 BCE (see 1 Chronicles 5:26) and carried off the Israelites dwelling east of the Jordan River. Pul harassed Menahem, king of Israel in 755 BCE (see 2 Kings 15:19-20). Tilglath-Pileser III harassed Pekah, king of Israel from 734-732 BCE (see 2 Kings 15:29). This may seem petty to some, but if you’re going to build a chronology of ancient Israel, or a Chronological Study Bible, the more accurate the better.
Open your Chronological Study Bible to page 986 and read the box about Nehemiah. Thomas Nelson, Inc. states that Nehemiah lived during the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus, king of Persia from 465-424 BCE. But look at the Scriptures in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:6-7 (by the way, Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries), you see that Nehemiah returned from the exile with Zerubbabel in 549 BCE, telling us that he was among the captives taken when Mordecai, Esther, and King Jehoiachin were taken in 598 BCE by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Nehemiah was about 100 years old by the time he became governor of Judah for the first time during the 20th year of the reign of Darius I of Persia in 502 BCE, but Thomas Nelson, Inc. would make him to be over 150 years old in 445 BCE, way down in the 20th year of the reign of Longimanus. That’s a bit of a stretch to believe.
A couple other things in The Chronological Study Bible bother me personally. In the Epoch One explanation we read, “Very early dates are based on theories of evolution and geology, and interpreters of the Bible differ on how such dates relate to the creation accounts in Genesis.” The use of the Theory of Evolution in the production of a version of the Scriptures seems a radical departure from conservative Christianity. It is a theory, after all, a poor unproven one at that. Maybe we should not assume that Thomas Nelson, Inc. is a conservative Christian publisher. Whether they are or not, they’ve unleashed Pandora’s Box into the realm of the written Word of Yahweh. Reader and buyer beware, the Darwinian demonic theology of evolution is now attacking you through your Bible.
So, because primitive cultures in our 21st century world use wooden wagons, are we now in the Wooden Age? In my early youth, I collected American Indian arrowheads with my grandfather. Does that mean the 18th-19th century American Indians should be placed in the Flintstone Age? Take a look again at the Great Pyramid of Giza, written about on page 20 of The Chronological Study Bible. It was never used as a tomb for any king of Egypt. It was built with precision to tolerances that we cannot duplicate in the 21st century, with all our technology and know-how. How do you place a 50-ton slab of rock, requiring thousands of men to move, in a space where only a few men could stand, or crouch? The sea salt found over halfway up the Great Pyramid reveals that it survived Noah’s Flood, telling me that those who built it were very advanced very early in human history. Adam and Eve’s generations were the most advanced generations in our history; we have degenerated by many percentage points since. Maybe today we live in one of those Stone Ages. We know we live in an age of stony hearts. We are not evolving, we are devolving into a depravity never before seen in human history.
Dear reader, you will ultimately have to discern for yourself whether or not including the Theory of Evolution into the production of the Scriptures is appropriate. Just reading Genesis 1 and 2 reveals to you that Yahweh created the heavens and the earth. Is that so hard to grasp? Just by studying Genesis 1 – 11, you find that the Flood of Noah occurred in the 1656th year of creation, not too difficult to grasp. Now track the patriarchs, judges, kings of Israel and Judah, Daniel’s 490-year prophecy, Messiah’s and Paul’s life, and you can understand that Yahweh created the heavens and the earth not much more than 6,000 years ago. Really, it’s not rocket science or pyramid building, or is it? You decide. The so-called higher criticism in scholarship over the last 160 years has only tried to destroy the authority of the Holy Word of Yahweh. He takes that kind of shenanigans personally. Fair warning to Thomas Nelson’s fairness doctrine. I believe Thomas Nelson, Inc. broke out of one religious ditch by rearranging the canonical order, only to fall into the ditch on the other side of the Pathway, into pagan humanist evolutionary theory.
Another point of concern is the presentation of an early and late Exodus timeline. Why not pick one? I understand the fairness doctrine, but does it really apply when presenting two scenarios that could possibly cause confusion in the minds of young disciples? Look at 1 Kings 6:1, again from Nelson’s own NKJV, “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.” In the early Exodus scenario (page 88), the Exodus occurred in 1446 BCE, in the late Exodus scenario (page 89), the Exodus occurred in 1275 BCE. Again, a simple calculation reveals the reasonableness of one of those dates. 1446 – 480 = 966 BCE, a reasonable year for the 4th year of Solomon. 1275 – 480 = 795 BCE, not reasonable because you are now deep into the reigns of kings of the DIVIDED kingdoms of Israel and Judah, long after Solomon’s death. Come on Thomas Nelson, Inc., be reasonable, pick one. If you are graced enough to receive a PhuD, ThuD, or Thum, you should be graced enough to humble yourself before your Heavenly Father and . . . pick one.
In the next edition of the CSB, I would love to see them translate the LORD and God as Yahweh, in the Old and Renewed Covenant. The word God and the LORD are titles, not His name. His name is Yahweh. And how about translating Jesus Christ as Yeshua HaMashiach or Yeshua Messiah, since our Savior is Hebrew? What would be wrong with printing, “In the beginning the Mighty Ones created the heavens and the earth?” Then the translators could have fun trying to translate the Alef Tav found right in the middle of verse 1. The Alef Tav, Alpha and Omega, Jesus Christ, the Beginning and the End, found right in the middle of verse 1 of the Bible! I would rather see a paragraph about the Alef Tav in Genesis 1:1, than a paragraph about the pagan gods Baal or Dagon. Also, why not leave space inside the Scriptures like Ezekiel 1:1-2, Daniel 9:1-2, Jeremiah 25:1, and Esther 2:16, so the Bible student can enter the appropriate year, either from the timelines included in the CSB, or from their own research?
All in all, The Chronological Study Bible is a good work, worthy of its place on the shelf of all students of the Holy Scriptures who are able to discern humanist evolutionary theory. Just grab your black permanent ink marker and edit pages 1-2 to your liking. I will be happily writing in my copy of this study Bible, correcting dates as I see fit, till Yeshua comes again. I can’t wait to compare my timeline with His. Blessings to all those at Thomas Nelson, Inc., thank you for a tremendous job mostly done well. I really like the earth-tone color scheme throughout the CSB and the parchment tinged edges of the pages, nice touch. I hope that in the next edition of The Chronological Study Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc. strips out all the evolutionary theory propaganda. Yahweh is not pleased with it. He used harsher words than I have expressed in this review, words like blasphemy, rebellious children, broken covenant. Thomas Nelson, Inc., consider yourselves warned by the Almighty. I give the Chronological Study Bible three crosses.
Gene Benjamin II
January 16, 2011 CE
Approximate creation day number 2,195,404, but who’s counting?