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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Book Review: Exalting Jesus in John


I previously reviewed another commentary in the “Christ-Centered Exposition” series: Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Kings. Here is what I said then to introduce the commentary series:

“A good commentary can be an invaluable aid to pastors, students, professors, and Christians in general. But not every commentary is equally suited for every task. Some excel in giving background information, others focus on the technical details of text criticism or the original languages, and others are more application-focused. Choosing the right type of commentary for the right task is a critical first step!

The Christ-Centered Exposition series is edited by David Platt, Daniel Akin, and Tony Merida. They have four goals for this commentary series, which they list in the introduction. 1) They seek to display exegetical accuracy. What the Bible says is what they want to say. 2) This series has pastors in view. It is designed to aid in sermon prep and drawing out the themes and applications from the text, not to be academic in nature. 3) They want the series to be known for helpful illustrations and theologically driven applications. And 4) they want to exalt Jesus from every book in the Bible.”

This volume of the commentary series is divided into over fifty sections, some of which cover a few verses (e.g. 14:1-3) and others which cover whole chapters (e.g. chapter 7). Each of these sections contains unit-by-unit analysis of the verses it covers and uses the CSB (Christian Standard Bible) translation. Additionally, the sections are full of example illustrations, introductions, applications, and so on. While it is by no means necessary to go at this pace, each section has enough material to fill an entire sermon (at this pace, you could take over a year to preach through John’s Gospel!).

johnEach chapter of the commentary begins with a “Main Idea” summary that encapsulates the theme or main point of the unit of Scripture. Then comes an outline of the section that will be covered and an exposition of each section of the passage according to the outline. At the very end of each chapter are questions for discussion and reflection.

You might wonder if a volume in this series is necessary for each of the Gospels. “Is it that hard to exalt Jesus and point to him when you are preaching a passage that is explicitly about him?” “Isn’t this sort of series more useful for the Old Testament?” My answer is that a volume like this is CRITICAL. I have sat through too many sermons that begin with a passage from the Gospels but jump off the passage like a diving board into current events, “hilarious” stories, or confusing theological polemics to think that it is impossible to preach from the Gospels and yet miss the point entirely. Volumes like these are powerful examples and reminders of how to keep the main thing the main thing by preaching “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

My conclusion for this volume mirrors my thoughts of the previous volume that I reviewed: this commentary specifically and the series in general do exactly what they aim to do and do it well. If you’re looking for a verse-by-verse analysis that goes into great detail about the historical/socio-rhetorical background or parses every single Hebrew word and explains them you won’t find that here. But if you’re looking for a resource to help you teach and preach the Bible more and more Christocentrically, this is the series for you! I recommend this book and series to all pastors and Bible-teachers looking for an accessible yet robust commentary that takes the Bible seriously and makes much of Jesus.

5 stars out of 5


Matt Carter and Josh Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John. Nashville, B&H Publishing, 2017. 415 pp. Paperback. $14.99.

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

Book Review: “She Reads Truth Bible”


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For several years now I have seen many of my female friends share posts on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook about a Bible reading plan and online community called She Reads Truth. It always seemed like these friends were encouraged by participating in this community and I was always glad to see people excited to get into God’s word.

More recently, I have been excited by all the new Bibles Holman Bible Publishers have been putting out. I previously reviewed the CSB Reader’s Bible and loved it, so when I saw that there was an opportunity to check out a new Holman Bible Publishers release and that the Bible was a collaboration with She Reads Truth, I knew that I had to take the opportunity.

So what is the verdict on the She Reads Truth Bible? What makes it unique and is it worth investigating for yourself? Let’s take a look together at this recent release from Holman.

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Book Review: “CSB Reader’s Bible”


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For those of us who have been reading the Bible for a while, there are parts of our reading experience that we take for granted. But these very same features make it a strange sort of book. Take verse numbers and study Bible notes. These can be incredibly helpful, but they also clutter up the page and are not found in most other types of books (aside from textbooks, religious works, and academic resources). And chapter numbers in the Bible are much more frequent than chapter breaks in other sorts of books. Additionally, they can artificially segment off our Bible reading into tidy little units that lose the important context of surrounding verses. This is not to mention section headings, headers, cross-references, and other features! These factors can be imposing to first-time readers of the Bible and also can keep us from experiencing the books of the Bible as belonging to the genres in which they were originally written: as a letter or group of poems or as a story.

In response to these potential issues, Bible publishers have begun to put out Bibles that they refer to as Reader’s Bibles. I already had an ESV Reader’s Bible, so when the chance to review a CSB Reader’s Bible came, I jumped at the opportunity.

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