Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunday Salon: Happy Easter (and the Reese Chronological Bible)

The Reese Chronological BibleOn Easter weekend, I can't help but think about my recent journey through the bible.  Before this year, I'd never read the bible in its entirety.  I've read a lot of it many times, but every time I try to read the bible all the way through I get to the middle of all the Levitical laws and my good intentions fly out the window.  In January, the month of resolutions, I bought a copy of the Reese Chronological Bible (even though it only came in the King James version) with the intention of reading it straight through.  There is something fascinating about placing the scriptures in a chronological order and historical context, don't you think?  Well, by the end of January I was about to stick it on my shelf, resigned to the idea of picking it up sometime later, (when my TBR wasn't so huge--ha!) but as I was carrying it away from my nightstand and toward my bookshelf I felt that I needed to make a concentrated effort to read through it instead of giving up on the idea so easily.

This bible is 1600 pages, and I read it in 66 days...25 pages a day (and 50 the last day).  Some days it felt like insanity: one day I read the books of Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Peter.    Now those aren't the largest books in the bible, but it does sound impressive, doesn't it? :)  It equalled out to about 45 minutes of reading...if I was focusing well.  If not, (and there were many portions of the bible when it was quite difficult for me to maintain focus,) then it would likely be the only reading I'd be able to fit in that day.   Why did I read it at such a pace?  It was sort of a Lent project, I suppose.  I felt challenged to read it as quickly as possible, and this pace ended up being about the exact amount I could read without getting frustrated and giving up.

One of the fabulous things about reading the bible in chronological order is that it provides a better Big Picture.   There is more continuity; it makes sense historically, which makes a world of difference for a brain like mine.  I loved the inclusion of historical facts, even if they were brief.  Before the book of Malachi, the birth of Plato is listed (429 BC) as is the reign of Darius II of Persia (423-404 BC).  In between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there is a brief commentary about Greece and Rome as world powers, which further aids in understanding the timeline.  The Big Picture goes beyond the historical context and into understanding the ultimate message of the bible: that of Yahweh's view and plan for humankind.

So although it was definitely a challenge, it had a rewarding outcome.  As far as the specific version is concerned, I was very pleased with how it was organized.  All other chronological bibles I've seen were much less specific in arrangement--while this version occasionally divided books into verse-sized sections, the others seem to be by books or perhaps chapters.  I thought this attention to detail was amazing, really adding to the poetry of some parts.  The story of David told in a way that interspersed the Psalms into the historical bits made for a beautiful, full retelling.  When I was previewing the book, the first few verses sold me:
John 1:1-2  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.
Psalm 90:2  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Genesis 1:1  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
While I wish that I'd had the option to read it in another version, I remain pleased with my experience.  It has provided a great frame of mind to head into Easter weekend, and beyond that into the rest of the year.  If you've been considering reading through the bible, this is one I'd recommend.  If you celebrate Easter, have a joyful day celebrating friends, family, and the risen Lord!

Title: The Reese Chronological Bible
Author: King James version, work by Edward Reese based on Frank Klassen's chronology
Pages: 1600
Published: Bethany House 1980 (orig. 1977)


  1. What a great idea for Lent...Happy Easter to you as well!

  2. Happy Easter! I read it all the way through when I was a teenager...even the "begets." LOL

    A chronological version sounds better.


  3. I love the verses at the beginning! I usually read through the Bible on the 5 year plan. :) You should try it now with an easy version like the New Living Translation or the NIV just to see the different verses that pop out. Of course if won't be chronological. It must have been quite a project to divide the Bible up chronologically verse by verse.

  4. Happy Easter. What a great challenge. Whenever I am faced with some sort of difficult books list, I always forget to include the Bible, which is a great reading challenge.

    Check out my Sunday Salon post here.


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