Review: CSB Christ Chronological


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The four Gospels all cover the period of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. However, they do so at different paces and with different emphases. Sometimes they cover the same story: the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus’ crucifixion are in all four Gospels, for instance. But sometimes they don’t contain what the other Gospels cover or include details that the other Gospel writers did not incorporate into their account.

It is possible to study these differences by comparing the four Gospels as they are included in our New Testament: flipping back and forth from book to book and locating the corresponding passages. But ever since the Tatian’s Diatessaron in the 2nd century, people have produced Gospel harmonies where individuals attempt to arrange the contents of the Gospels in chronological order and put passages that cover the same events side-by-side for easy comparison.

The CSB Christ Chronological is one of the latest of these Gospel harmonies to be produced. How does it fare as a tool to study the Gospel accounts of the life of Christ chronologically?

The CSB Christ Chronological is a beautiful book. It is well designed and colorful without being garish or flashy. It is simple and straightforward and clearly identifies the portion of Jesus’ life in each section, the references from each Gospel quoted, and the different excerpts themselves.

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The above picture includes an example of a section of Jesus’ life included in all four Gospels: Jesus’ baptism. Note the references in the upper right corner to where it is found in each Gospel and how the accounts are all placed together. You can immediately make several observations comparing the accounts: Matthew and John have the longest accounts of this episode, all three Synoptic Gospels end with a version of “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased,” etc.

For visual clarity, each Gospel is assigned a different color for its text, which is displayed at the bottom of each page for reference.

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Additionally, some sections have introductions that discuss how the various Gospel accounts do or do not align with each other as well as the reasons behind this or possible harmonizations.

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When an account appears only in one Gospel, that section is inserted on its own. Note how the multiple accounts that are side-by-side at the top of the above page then shift to John 5 all by itself. The same goes for when a story, miracle, or teaching is found in only two or three of the Gospels.

So the CSB Christ Chronological is beautiful, designed well, has great colors, helps you make immediate comparisons between different sections of the Gospels…is anything missing?

Unfortunately, yes.

This resource lacks a Scripture index or even numbers for each individual section that align with other Gospel harmonies to reference. This initially might not seem like that big of an issue, but it drastically reduces the usefulness of the CSB Christ Chronological as a study tool.

Say, for instance, that I am interested in the story of Jesus healing two blind men and how the Gospels each do or don’t address it. How am I to find it in this book?

I might know that the reference for this episode in Mark is Mark 10:46-52. But that doesn’t help me that much without an index recording which page(s) Mark 10 is on in this book. I can manually skim through the book searching for it. But because this is a Gospel harmony and not all the Gospel writers arranged things strictly chronologically in their Gospels, I might run into some problems. For example, page 38 has the story of the faith of the centurion (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10) but then page 39 has Jesus’ answer to the question from John the Baptist (Matthew 11:1-19; Luke 7:18-35). It isn’t until page 48 that the harmony returns to Matthew 8 with the story of Jesus stilling the storm, found in Luke 8. The editors of the book have followed Luke’s chronology and assumed Matthew arranged his account more thematically than chronologically from Matthew 8 to Matthew 11 but have not given the reader a tool to follow what they are doing (e.g. an index).

Should a future edition of this book include a Scripture index, episode numbers, or some other way to quickly find a specific Gospel reference, this would be an excellent resource to aid in the study of the Gospels. However, without any sort of tool like this, the CSB Christ Chronological is much less useful and more suited to reading beginning to end devotionally than for study.

3 stars out of 5


CSB Christ Chronological. Holman Bible Publishers, 2017. 144 pp. Hardcover. $19.99.

Thanks to B&H Bloggers for the review copy, which I received for free in exchange for an impartial review!

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7 Great Study Bibles


Via challies.com, here is an excellent visual presentation of seven excellent study Bibles. I personally have the ESV Study Bible and love it.

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(p.s. Sorry for the lack of posts recently! Seminary is extra-demanding this year. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some more up soon!)

Book Review: NIV Proclamation Bible


I love study Bibles. I cut my teeth on the NIV New Adventure Bible-a Study Bible for kids-in elementary school. Since then I’ve had an NASB Life Application Study Bible, which set the standard all future Study Bibles I have owned or used, and also an ESV Study Bible. All have been incredibly useful tools in personal Bible study, preparing to lead Bible studies, and doing research for teaching the Word to others.

remember me?

As some of you might have picked up by now, I am a big fan of Tim Keller. So when I read a quote by him saying “There are many Study Bibles, but none better,” I needed to find out which Bible he was referring to.

Said quote

Turns out that Keller’s quote was in reference to the NIV Proclamation Bible. Thanks to Zondervan I got my hands on a review copy. So is it the best study Bible ever???

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In a word, no. Now, I do think that it’s a very good resource for accomplishing its stated purpose. But that purpose is a bit different than most Study Bibles. More specific thoughts after the break. Continue reading

A Fuller Understanding of the Scriptures (Or, To the sources! To the Fount!)


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‘Lord, thou hast given me a determination to take up no principle at second-hand; but to search for everything at the pure fountain of thy word.’ -Andrew Fuller

It’s tempting to base our theology on what the “experts” have concluded on the topic. Have a question about doctrine? Well what does Tim Keller say about the subject? What about John Piper? Has MacArthur chimed in on the subject? How does N.T. Wright approach it? If you’re feeling especially interested you might even go to what Jonathan Edwards, Wesley, Calvin, or Augustine have said on the subject.

But coming across this quote by Andrew Fuller was an excellent and timely reminder about the true source of doctrinal and theological principles. May God give us a similar determination to not settle for “second-hand” theology but to instead go directly to the Word with any and every idea like the Bereans in Acts 17, who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV).

Practical Meditation: Look at the Book


The Bible is unique: it stands alone among all the other books to have ever been written. And I’m not just referring to its popularity-it is unique in that it’s a library of many books written at different points in history to a people who lived long ago and yet (miraculously! Praise God!) it is still relevant to us today.

Joshua 1:8 says (in the 1984 NIV): “Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” And yes, that command was to the Israelites and referred specifically to the Torah. But the principle is just as valid for us today: we have God’s words and he invites us to spend time in them.

I wanted to pass on a resource today that I hope will encourage some of you like it has encouraged me to further study and eventually to meditate on the Word. Because let’s face it: meditation (and even study) on/about/of the Bible can be a daunting task. “Where do I even begin?” we might ask. “How long will it take?” “Can I really keep this up?” “Who will teach me?”

If you need that first kick in the pants, a gentle reminder, a fresh method, or something in between, let me suggest John Piper’s new “Look at the Book” series. In this series he shares short (usually 8 or 9 minute) videos where he takes a short text (a verse or two) and tries to understand it, study it, see how it relates to itself and other passages, and shows you how to do the same. The video is not of him, but of the text itself and the marks/highlights/underlines that he’s making using a computer. It’s simple, it’s reproducible, and it’s beneficial. I did it myself the other day and am very pleased with the encouragement and refreshment it’s been to me!

From my time yesterday
From my time yesterday

I’ll link to two videos here. First the introductory video (that restates what I’ve said in the post but much more eloquently and inspirationally haha) and then an example of one of the videos itself. Of course, if you’d rather check it all out yourself then you can go right now to the source: http://www.desiringgod.org/labs . I hope you’re blessed by this and by your resulting times in the Word of our Lord.

The intro:

The example: 

 What has been your experience in studying and meditating on the Word? Do you have a similar or different method? What encourages you and keeps you going? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂