Book Review : ESV Chronological Bible (Hardcover)

By James Jeffery

In January each year, Christians of all tribes and tongues commit to reading more of God’s Word as a New Year’s resolution. The sheer number of Bible reading plans available in our day and age help believers achieve these goals, with of course, the encouragement and spurring on of the Holy Spirit. Thanks to Ligonier, I am hoping to follow the Tabletalk Magazine Plan which covers the whole Bible in 2024, matching suitable Old and New Testament readings. One resource I have always wanted is a Bible which orders chapters according to the point they occurred in redemptive history. The wait is over for such a resource!


The recently published ESV Chronological Bible presents the text of the ESV Bible in chronological order. The entire text — from Genesis to Revelation — is arranged according to the Biblical timeline. Reading it reminded me of John MacArthur’s One Perfect Life in which he compiled the gospel accounts into one continuous narrative. The editor — Andrew Steinmann at Concordia University — is an accomplished scholar. I first came across Steinmann’s work last year when reading his two-volume commentary on Samuel and was immediately struck by his devotional heart and exegetical precision. Hence, when I saw that he was the editor of this new Bible, I knew it was one I had to read.


Steinmann’s systematising of God’s Word helps to underscore the relevance of those parts of the Old Testament that appear obscure to modern ears. Lists of historical figures from genealogies appear alongside episodes of their lives, and parallel accounts of events appear side-by-side. This enables readers to identify nuances in the Biblical text. This is especially true in relation to the way authors recount the same event in different ways to communicate particular truths. For instance, the genealogy of Adam to Japheth (as shown below on page 10) presents the three parallel texts in which it occurs in the Old Testament.

I also found Steinmann’s editorial introduction to each section highly profitable. In these summaries, Steinmann highlights the major theological themes, provides a visual timeline, and gives a list of the texts that will be juxtaposed (see below for an example). The constant mentions of when the specific events occurred reminds readers that we have a God who works through real, not mythological, history.



Structurally, ESV Chronological Bible breaks Scripture down into eight sections (six in the Old Testament, and two in the New) separated by a chapter explaining the Intertestamental Period (429-3 AD). These are further broken down into 365 readings, which makes this a perfect Bible to purchase for those who are aiming to read the Bible in a year. Similar to God’s Big Picture, this format categorises Biblical events according to their time in redemptive-history. 

From an aesthetic and formatting perspective, the ESV Chronological Bible is highly readable. There is sufficient room to take notes in the wide margins, and I found the 9.15pt text to be easy on the eyes. The topic of each section is presented on the footer of each page, which makes navigation a breeze. The various infographics before and after the Bible are a valuable resource in and of themselves. It features a fold-out timeline, Daily Reading Index, and a colourful chart showing the nine key epochs of Biblical history. 


The Bottom Line

While every Christian ought to read the Bible in its standard canonical arrangement, the ESV Chronological Bible offers a unique presentation of Biblical events. It encourages us to see the Bible as one whole, and to pay attention to parallel accounts of characters and events which we find in God’s Word. 

I highly recommend it to anyone hoping to cover the Bible in a year, for it presents Scripture in a refreshing way. I also recommend it to those who seek to understand the tapestry of Biblical history and the interrelationships between books. For in studying God’s Word in chronological order, you gain a new appreciation for the depth and breadth of God’s revelation, and its application for us today.

**I received this book from Crossway in exchange for an honest review.**