Like Moses viewing the Promised Land from a distance atop Mt. Nebo, so Christians today stumble through the Scriptures from a kind of distance caused by time. We get stuck in the minutia of genealogies and Levitical regulations, and fail to see the connection of one story to the other. Why is the Bible so confusing in that regard?
As the NIV Integraged Study Bible (NIVISB) points out, our English Bibles arrange the books of the Bible according to content rather than chronology. Historical books are grouped together; philosophical and poetic books have their grouping; prophetical books are side by side; even the epistles find themselves bunched together. The NIV Intgrated Study Bible offers a unique point-of-view to put the books of the Bible in perspective. It achieves this primarily through the placement of parallel passages next to each other on the same page.
Even as a literate society, we have difficulty grasping the chronological progression of the biblical story, both Old and New Testament, and so many have turned to this studious option to better understand the history of our faith. When events are placed in context with each other, the lightbulb will flash, and even passages that were otherwise dreary suddenly come into focus.
This is especially common, and especially useful, when it comes to genealogies, the Mosaic law, the time of the Kings, the Psalms, comparing the Gospels, and pinpointing the epistles in the New Testament timeline. This just so happens to include some of the most interesting stories of the entire Bible as well as some of the driest reading you can imagine. Yet repetition denotes importance when it comes to ancient literature, and it will hopefully come alive to you as to their importance if given in this format.
Are there downsides? I did find navigation to specific passages a bit more difficult since there were so many parallel passages to compete with and many books are not in their ‘traditional’ location, so this doesn’t fit well as a main ‘study Bible’ that you’d bring to church or a Bible study. Some might want to argue the finer points about the placement of certain Psalms, the book of Job, or even fail to see the point in all those darn chronologies, but those are not issues worth complaining about in a finished product such as this, and merely require some insight into those genres of literature. How would I rate this against other chronological Bibles? I’ve seen several other Chronological devotional Bibles or study Bibles, and they do have their perks depending on their focus.
Devotional Bibles will have extra thoughts about the passages that will help you to relate it to your own walk with God; Study Bibles will give you extra tidbits of history, archaeology, theology, and such; the benefit and unique factor of the NIV Integrated Study Bible is that parallel passages are physically laid out next to each other on a page for direct comparison (and to take a mental note that the two books being compared are recounting the same events). Say you’ve heard both sides of the story about the continuity or dis-continuity of the Gospels and wanted to examine the direct evidence for yourself. Say the Mosaic law tends to befuddle you and you’d really like to get a better grasp on what the tabernacle or the Temple really looked like, or what the priests’ daily duties really looked like. Then this is a Bible for you. Just understand that some of the timeline is up for interpretation. But when you are basing your entire premise around chronology, you have to put your foot down somewhere or it won’t do you any good.
Now, if you are the type who wants an all-in-one Bible, then the NLT Chronological Life Application Study Bible is all three of the above examples wrapped into one. An alternative is also the NIV Daily Bible, which is a 365 chronological devotional Bible with some helpful study notes. But if you’d like the Bible without all the extras, pure and simple, and in a historical layout, the NIVISB is a better choice.
What could be better than when you discover everything you read in the Scriptures is part of a carefully planned continuum in God’s redemptive story for mankind? That is why I give this positive review of the new NIV Integrated Study Bible: A New Chronological Approach for Exploring Scripture.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLookbloggers.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.