Greg Cohoon (drmellow) wrote,
Greg Cohoon

Review: 24/7 NLT Chronological BIble

About a week ago, I received a copy of 24/7: A One Year Chronological Bible from Tyndale as part of their Blogger Review program. I've spent some time with it, and I'm pretty happy with it.

So, what is this Bible? It's an edition of the NLT arranged in chronological order, broken into daily reading chunks. It's an interesting way of looking at the Bible, since several of the books cover material that happened at the same time. Obvious examples are books of prophesy that were written during times that are described in Kings, the four gospels all tell the story of Christ's life, and Paul's letters were written during the events described in the book of Acts. The idea is that instead of the traditional arrangement of the books, the text is rearranged so that you read things in a more narrative flow. I like the idea of doing that, but any implementation of such a timeline is sure to cause arguments. The timeline that 24/7 is using appears reasonable to me, but I'm no scholar. The Bible includes a four page general timeline, so it's pretty easy to see the choices the editors made for ordering the text. The Bible itself is fairly small (5" x 6.5") and thick (2224 pages). The paper is of reasonable quality and the text is in a readable font, laid out well in a single column. Each day's reading covers a chunk that can be read in about 10 or 15 minutes, marked for reading starting on January 1 and going through every day until December 31. Every four years, you get February 29 off.

Another interesting feature are woodcut images that are included on each page. There are 12 images that represent different aspects of Christianity, and each month features a different image. When I first saw that listed as a feature, I pretty much dismissed it, but as I spent more time with the Bible, they grew on me.

There are few reference features with this Bible. The NLT translation notes are included, but there are no study notes. In the back is a daily reading guide, showing which scriptures are included on each day. In the text itself, the scripture references are plainly marked and it is easy to see when you are moving from one book to another. At the same time, these markings are not distracting. Also in the back is a list of all of the chunks of scripture passages that are scattered throughout the narrative. This makes it possible to know what page to turn to if you want to find a particular scripture reference. Because the text is not arranged canonically, this Bible is not appropriate as a general reference Bible, but I don't hold that against it since it doesn't try to be a general reference Bible. That's about as far as it goes for reference material.

What don't I like about this Bible? My number one complaint is the same complaint I have with almost any "read the Bible in a year" reading plan. The plan is constructed around the calendar. I.e., there is a reading for January 1, January 2, etc. until December 31. This is a great way to structure your reading if you commit to reading the Bible in sync with the calendar. I think that's a very bad expectation, though. If you miss a day, you're tempted to read extra on the next day to try and "catch up." If you miss too many days, you're tempted to give up and try again next time January 1 rolls around. That's what happened to me this year. I was doing really good until the middle of June, when I got so far behind that I just gave up. Since then, I've been hit-n-miss with other kinds of devotional reading, in addition to the other kinds of reading I do for the various studies in which I'm involved. Structuring the reading this way also encourages people to put the Bible aside until January 1 rolls around, when it's "time" to start. I wonder how many people never get around to starting. I also wonder how many people have successfully gone through the January-March portion of a reading plan, but never got further. I would much rather see a reading plan like this labeled as Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, ... Day 365 instead of forcing it to sync with the calendar. So what if that means you end up going through the one-year plan in a year and a half, or two, or three years? If you miss a day, there's no artificial pressure to catch up. If this edition is ever updated, I hope they change the labels on the daily readings. That goes the same for pretty much any other reading plan I've ever seen.

Compared to that complaint, the other thing I don't like about this Bible is pretty minor. I wish it wasn't as thick. I'd be happy for it to be a little taller and wider in order to accommodate a thinner version. It's current dimensions aren't bad, but I'd still tweak it a little bit.

What do I like about this Bible? I really like how it seems to want to be read. Not studied like a textbook, but read like a story. I mentioned before that it's not an appropriate reference Bible, and that really contributes to its readability in a devotional setting. Its lack of a lot of reference material will ensure that you focus on the text itself and not start chasing (and putting undue emphasis on) study notes. Each daily reading is appropriately sized for both length and content. As I mentioned earlier, the woodcut images provide additional "warmth" to the daily readings.

In the end, I recommend this Bible to anyone who is interested in using a structured reading plan to read the Bible. I think going through it in the chronological manner presented here would be a pretty cool way to do it, and probably more engaging than a lot of other plans. I've you're already using a reading plan that is working for you, there's probably not a pressing need to run out and get this one -- stick with what you're doing and consider this if you later decide you want to change things up a bit. It's priced at $18, which makes it an affordable addition to your own library (it's a good 2nd Bible, not a primary Bible) or as a gift.

I see that the Internet Monk has also reviewed this Bible. I agree with his thoughts, too.
Tags: bibles, reviews

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