I wrote this review for Amazon.com, here, and decided to publish it here, too.
A Crash Course on the Whole Bible in One Year!, July 24, 2010
This review is from: What the Bible Is All About Handbook: KJV Edition (Paperback)
The author of this book lived from 1890 until 1963 and the first version of this book was copyrighted in 1953. It was revised in 1983 and again in 1997. The fact that it is still being published shows how valuable the information is! It is a great book.
There are a number of versions of the book.
What the Bible is All About Handbook is a 5" by 8", 1-1/2" thick paperback, with black and white illustrations. It has over 700 pages. It comes two versions: NIV (New International Version) and KJV (King James Version). I have the KVJ and have used it with a NIV Bible, so while you probably want to match the version of Bible you read, you could use either. It has black and white illustrations in the clean and precise Gospel Light style. This is the version that I will review (further down).
[You can see the illustration style by looking inside the book, Reproducible Maps, Charts, Time Lines and Illustrations: What the Bible is All About Resources, here. Note that the Reproducible book has many more illustrations than are in the Handbook (and they are 8-1/2" by 11"), but the style is the same.]
Another version is the What the Bible is All About: Visual Edition. (Notice it doesn't call itself a handbook anymore.) It is about the same size, but has been abridged and over 500 color graphics (maps, photos and so on) have been added. It has under 500 pages.
There is also the What the Bible is All About for Young Explorers: Based on the Best-Selling Classic.... It is a little over 350 pages, but is definitely written for younger readers, ages 9 to 12. I think that many 12-years-olds might be too old for this, unless they knew very little about the Bible or were reluctant readers.
There are also the 2000 versions:
What the Bible is All About 101 Old Testament: Genesis to Esther
What the Bible is All About 102 Old Testament: Job to Malachi
What the Bible is All About 201 New Testament: Matthew to Philippians
What the Bible is All About 202 New Testament: Colossians to Revelations
These books are 8-1/2" by 11" and would probably be best suited to classroom use.
Okay, to review this version: What the Bible is All About Handbook (either NIV or KJV)
From the Preface you will learn that this book came about from a high school course written by Dr. Henrietta Meirs called Scripture Panorama Series. It was a one year (52-week) crash course of all 66 books in the Bible taught to high schoolers. What the Bible is All About Handbook was written in the 1960s from the teachers' books of Scripture Panorama Series.
The purpose, as expressed in the Preface, is to familiarize the reader with the Bible through a general overview of the whole Bible.
Here is what I love about this book and what makes it different from every other Bible handbook I have seen:
It is written in 52 chapters. Each chapter has a Bible reading for each day of the week, Sunday through Saturday.
After the first chapter, which is an introduction to the Bible, you will go through the Bible, one Bible book a week, with this handbook as a friendly, encouraging guide! You are free to read the Bible book in whole, or you can read just the listed passages, which hit the highlights of the book you are learning about.
There are periodic reviews (chapters 13, 26, 39 and 52) and an introduction to the Gospel (chapter 27).
Obviously, since there are 66 books in the Bible and six introductory and review chapters in this 52-chapter book, there are some weeks where you will cover two or three Bible books. Remember, you may chose to read the whole book, or you may read the listed passages, which are more manageable. Some of the books of the Bible are really short, so it makes sense to read more than one during some of the weeks.
Here are two examples of the suggested readings.
Chapter 2 covers Genesis.
Sunday: Creation (Genesis 1:1-5; 26-31; 2:7-22)
Monday: The Gall (Genesis 3:1-24)
Tuesday: The Flood (Genesis 6:1-7; 7:7-24; 8:6-11, 18-22; 9:1-16)
Wednesday: Beginning of Languages (Genesis 11:1-9)
Thursday: The Abrahamic Call and Covenant (Genesis 12:1-9; 13:14-18; 15:1-21; 17:4-8; 22:15-20; 26:1-5; 28:10-15)
Friday: Story of Joseph (Genesis 37:1-36; 42)
Saturday: Jacob's Final Blessing (Genesis 4-9)
Chapter 27 is Understand the Gospels:
Sunday: The King Christ Jesus (Matthew 2:1-12; 21:1-11)
Monday: The Servant Christ Jesus (Mark 10:35-45; 2:1-22)
Tuesday: The Man Christ Jesus (Luke 4:1-13; John 19:4-13)
Wednesday: The God-Man ((john 1:1-18; 3:1-16)
Thursday: Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ (John 19:16-42)
Friday: The Master, Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:18-25)
Saturday: Our Master, Jesus Christ (John 21:1-17)
Keep in mind that the list of selected reading is a small part of the book. The bulk of the book is the commentary and other helps that are in each chapter. For example, the chapter on Genesis covers pages 35 through 46.
This book can be used as outlined above, a crash course of the whole Bible in 52 weeks, or it can be used as a handbook or commentary, dipped into as needed and as time allows.
What I think is valuable is the emphasis on reading and understanding whole books of the Bible and attempting to understand the Bible as a whole.
There is a lot of great information packed into this reasonably priced paperback book!