I love timelines, for a number of reasons. For one thing, I’m very visual. You can tell me something and it’s “in one ear and out the other.” I often have no idea if two historical figures lived in the same era, even though their biographies contain dates and events. However, show me their entries on a timeline, and I have an instant visual understanding of who was a contemporary of whom, and what events might have been part of their back-fence gossip.
I was, early on, excited to get the Amazing Bible Timeline. It summarizes about 6,000 years of history on an oversized poster. (This assumes that the earth was created about that long ago. I have no problem with that, nor with the idea that an all-powerful God could create everything in the space of six days. He’s all-powerful, isn’t He?)
This timeline is necessarily abbreviated, giving about an inch-and-a-half of space per century. Very early centuries aren’t too crowded. Up until the Flood, as a matter of fact, you’re looking at Biblical genealogies of Adam and his descendants, one line descending from Seth and another, in a different color, from Cain. After the Flood, things really start to take off, with multiple colors to represent the families and cultures springing from Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Much of the information used to build the chart comes out of early church sources, like Ussher’s History.
Obviously, the further back you go in history, the less agreement there is on specific dates. The chart includes a disclaimer to this effect. Major world cultures are at least mentioned, though there’s not a lot of room for details. You have a visual picture of the early church splitting into Roman and Byzantine factions, a list of popes to the present day, and a brief record of the Reformation.
The closer you come to modern history, the more crowded the chart, and so the editors had to make some choices about what people and events to include. Thus, you won’t find a lot of rulers of France or England represented (something I was looking for, and so I noticed their absence) but you will find a number of the explorers who set out from Europe to the New World (something else I noticed, because we’ve been studying them in the past few weeks). The print is very small, to squeeze things in.
We’ve had some fun, tracing the Biblical genealogies and looking at the time frame we’re studying this year (we’re in the 1400s and 1500s at present). The girls have enjoyed finding familiar names and events. I’m afraid the timeline is too abbreviated to really add to our studies at present. We’ve done a lot of timeline work in the past and this timeline, in the girls’ opinion, doesn’t really add anything new, except perhaps… (read on)
A caution for your consideration: The early history of the Americas includes references to the Book of Mormon, and I’ve been told that the publishers themselves are LDS, though the publishers choose not to reveal their religious background. They do, however, publish an LDS version of the Amazing Bible Timeline, and admitted that the non-LDS version was re-created from the LDS version when the original was lost.
I have to admit that my knowledge of North and South American history is just sketchy enough to make me look at the timeline askance. I don’t know enough to recognize LDS historical claims that may be scattered among the notations, and so how can I tell our daughters which parts fit the scheme of things as we understand them, and which parts don’t? I do fairly well on the Bible references and European history (and the chart seems to reflect these accurately), but early American history is not something I’ve made a study of (yet).
Thus, we might look at entries in the timeline related to what we’re studying, just as a quick context-check, but probably wouldn’t use it for a primary source in our history studies, not, at least, until the confusion is cleared up about what on the chart is LDS-based history, and what isn’t.
The Amazing Bible Timeline retails for $29.95. Purchasers also receive links to an interactive Bible map and the timeline in PDF form.
To read more TOS reviews of this product, please click here.
I’ll be posting more about how we use timelines in our homeschool, in a future post.
Disclaimer: TOS Crew reviewers were provided a free copy The Amazing Bible Timeline for review. Members of the TOS Crew are encouraged to offer honest opinions of review products, positive or negative, and are neither required to endorse reviewed products, nor to return them to the vendor. TOS Crew reviewers receive no pay for trying products and writing reviews.