One of the most difficult tasks of the Bible reader is to get a handle on the chronology. The Bible doesn’t orient itself by dates and years on the calender, but by generations. It can get very confusing to the casual reader to remember when the events that he is reading about are taking place. The Old Testament is especially prone to this confusion because most Christians don’t spend much time reading it and also because the books aren’t arranged in our modern Bibles in a chronological pattern. One example is the book of Job, which is probably the oldest book in the entire OT, but it doesn’t appear in the Bible until after the history books (Judges, Samuel, Chronicles and Kings). One of the surest ways to frustrate a motivated reader is to hand him a Bible without giving him any of the historical context and mile-markers that enable him to orient himself within the continuing narrative.
While many tools and reference works exist to help in this regard, they are often confusing and tough to decipher. Modern study Bibles have greatly helped by including timelines and charts in the notes and book introductions, but these are usually specific to a particular book, rather than the entire Bible. The granddaddy of all chronologies, the Adams’ Chart, is immensely helpful and detailed, providing not only a biblical chronology, but a secular one as well. This allows the reader to not only track the biblical progression, but also the rest of concurrent world history. The Adams’ Chart is a great tool (and I highly recommend it), but it also over twenty-five feet long; hardly a portable study device. Enter Leonard’s Chart, a two-foot by three-foot chart that folds down to 10-inch by 7-inch hardcover binding, allowing it to easily fit onto any bookshelf. Although Leonard’s is not as ambitious as Adams’, it does provide a chronology of the Bible that can be seen quickly and at a glance, rather than the study, time commitment, and 25 feet of floor space required by Adams’.
Beginning with creation (using James Ussher’s date of 4004 B.C.), Leonard’s Chart tracks the progression of the Old and New Testament story of God’s redemptive plan for His people around the outside edge, with much more complementary information filling up the center: three family trees, several maps, a table of Scripture history, and a listing of the miracles performed by Jesus Christ. Even the ornamental decoration around the outside of the chart contains valuable information to aid in the interpretation of the biblical text. Seeing the words of the Bible presented linearly and visually goes a long way in helping to demystify and clarify God’s unfolding story. For those inclined to scribble their own notes and study helps as they go, Leonard’s also contains a fair amount of white space to allow this.
Although the chart is far from being comprehensive, it does contain enough information to be helpful, but not so much that it overwhelms. While it is glued to the hardcover binding, it can be removed and used as a wall-hanging for Sunday school classrooms or the home study. The chart is even attractive enough to be framed and displayed in the living room of the home. The chart is not only informative, it is a work of art. For those looking for an introduction to the study of biblical chronology, or those just looking for a more manageable alternative to the Adams’ Chart, the Leonard’s Chart is just the thing. And because it is so much smaller in size and scope, the Leonard’s is also much cheaper. It is printed on the same quality card stock as the Adams’, so it is durable enough for years of use. In the ever-expanding world of biblical study tools and helps, the Leonard’s Chart is a timeless and versatile investment for the Christian’s library.