The Chronological Guide to the Bible (Thomas Nelson, Nashville, 2010)
My review copy of this book arrived from the publisher at a fortuitous time: I happened to have recently begun reading Susan Wise Bauer's History of the Ancient World. Each book is good; together they are a great window on the historical and cultural settings for Biblical events.
The book meant to be read with the Chronological Guide, however, is the Bible, and I look forward to that adventure in the future. A Bible itself, arranged in chronological order, would be easier than flipping back and forth, but the Guide is small (not much over 200 pages) and easy to read even though dense with facts, works with any Bible translation, and lets the reader decide how to proceed in places where historical order is uncertain or controversial. It really is just a guide; you must do the work of actually opening the Bible yourself.
Each book of the Bible is set in its historical and cultural context, which both brings it to life and provides clues for understanding. It also leaves me hungry for more—there's only so much a book this size can do—which is not a bad thing.
I have but one complaint: Although the Guide touches on the Apocrypha and the historical period between the Old and New Testaments, it provides none of the informative analysis for the Apocryphal books themselves that it does for the Canonical books. Even Martin Luther called them "useful and good to read," and it would be helpful to understand more about the history, culture, and philosophies that set the stage for Jesus' time.
Even so, The Chronological Guide to the Bible is a worthwhile addition to the library of anyone who wishes a better understanding of the Bible and how its stories fit into their cultural and historical context.