Nelson's Complete Book of BIble Maps and Charts, 3rd Edition
Wow. As I've noted here before, for all the religious books I read, the amount of time I have put into actually studying the Scriptures is relatively minimal. By the time I reached an age to undertake serious study of the Bible, our religion classes had denigrated to values-clarification sessions with little substance. I've picked up books now and then through the years, but never one that was as helpful in visually depicting the flow of Bible history, the themes in Biblical writing and lots of Bible triva.
For each book of the Bible (except the Deuterocanonical books which were omitted)the chapter in Nelson's Complete Book of BIble Maps and Charts, 3rd Edition beings with a short paragraphs describing the content. That is followed by information on the author, the dates the book was likely composed as well as the dates written about. Next, they discuss the themes and literary structures in the book, and there is often a map showing where the events happened. Next, there is a chart showing the focuses of the chapter, the verse references for those focuses, divisions, topics, locations, and time periods. For example 2 Samuel has three focuses: David's Triumphs, David's Transgressions, and David's Troubles. Under David's Triumphs, the divisions are: Political Triumphs, Spiritual Triumphs and Military Triumphs. The Topics for all three of these divisions are Success and Obedience. The location of his Political Triumphs was Hebron, the others were in Jerusalem. His political triumphs lasted 7.5 years, the rest of the book lasted 33 years. This is followed by an outline of the chapter.Finally, there is narrative giving more history or information about people or places. The chapter on 2 Samuel talks about polygamy as a cause of the problems in David's family.
The book includes lots of interesting charts like Women of the Old Testament, Women of the New Testament, Couples in Scripture, Jewish Feasts, Herod's family tree and a diagram of the Temple.
I looked at some "hot button" issues to see how they were handled. Regarding creation, it is mentioned that some scholars see the "days" as 24 hour days, while others see them as periods of indeterminate length and others see the six day creation sequence as a literary framework. In other words, it takes no position on creation vs evolution except to say "God created the world in orderly fashion as part of a master plan. The world did not evolve on its own or by accident". When discussing Paul's epistles, much is made of Paul's teachings that we are saved by faith. When discussing the Book of James, it is noted that Paul and James were writing to different audiences for different purposes and that their writings were not really in conflict. Rather, James points out that faith has to be more than intellectual assent, it has to bear fruit.
When the Gospels are outlined, some stories don't receive the titles or prominence they might if this was a Catholic publication. For example, the Last Supper is mentioned, and the institution of the Memorial Meal, but the word Eucharist is not used. There is a section where Peter's confession of faith is noted, but not the fact that he was given the keys to the kingdom. Still, on the whole, I'd say this is a good book to get an overview of the Bible and to learn a lot about Biblical history and geography.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publisher's Book Sneeze program for providing me with a complimentary review copy. You can learn more at their product page.
Grade A- (A Catholic version with all the books in the Bible would have gotten an A+)