“I am the LORD your God…You shall not have other gods before me,” states the second commandment given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 20:2-3). Jeff Cavins, creator of the Bible Timeline Chart, believes we live surrounded by too many gods. Cavins is also convinced Catholic Christians have forgotten their own story narrative as a people of God.
On Saturday, September 28, Cavins presented to over 650 attendees at Christ Cathedral on reintroducing the story of the Bible. Hosted by Ascension Press, the Great Adventure Bible Timeline seminar was a full day featuring intensive sessions led by Cavins on the big picture of salvation history. Armed with the color-coded Great Adventure Bible, Cavins’ signature approach to understanding the Bible, attendees followed Cavins from Genesis to the life of Christ.
“We must be taught to read the Bible,” Cavins said, a former EWTN host and best-selling author of “The Timeline Bible Chart.” “Parents have an obligation to teach children how to read the Bible.” While Cavins acknowledged the good intentions of those who desire to read the Bible straight through, he pointed out that all too often understanding the overall picture of the Bible’s storyline gets lost along the way.
“What a gift to the Diocese of Orange to have Jeff Cavins present to us, in person, on what is truly a masterpiece teaching of our times, the Great Adventure Bible timeline,” noted Patrick Reidy, vice president of Mission and Faith at JSerra Catholic High School. “Two years ago we began to incorporate Jeff’s narrative in our sophomore theology classes and the results are irrefutable,” Reidy added.
The key to understanding the Bible Timeline Chart is by first breaking the Bible into twelve periods, each color-coded with a specific color matching the period’s theme. For instance, the “Egypt and Exodus” period is color coded red, for the Red Sea. The “Early World” Period (Gen 1-11) is turquoise, the color of the earth viewed from space. The “Messianic Fulfillment” period, the life of Christ, is color-coded gold, for the gifts of the Magi.
Within each period, the chart is further divided by 14 “narrative” books, which each tell the story of salvation; 59 “supplemental” books placed into their historical context; the growth of God’s Family Plan traced through a series of covenants; the Genealogy of Jesus, from Adam though the biblical narrative; 70 key events as an outline to the biblical story; and supplemental events in world history that further put biblical events into historical context.
“Jeff Cavins created the Bible Timeline to teach everyone how to read the Bible effectively, understand salvation history, and ultimately become true disciples of Christ,” Hank Evers, director of marketing for the Diocese of Orange, said. “After experiencing this program, my initial thought was, ‘This is a game-changer. I wish this program was available when I was in school; or for that matter, when my children were in school.’ That said, it’s never too late to enhance faith formation.” Evers is planning a Bible Study he and his wife will be hosting at their home, anchored by the Bible Timeline.
Cavins shows the forward narrative sweep of the Bible’s main theme, the story of salvation history, from the Early Word, the Patriarchs, Exodus and desert wanderings, Judges, the Royal Kingdom, Divided Kingdom, exile and return, the Maccabean Revolt, Messianic fulfillment, and the Church. The Great Adventure Bible complements the timeline chart with a helpful summary at the beginning of each biblical period.
Attendees of the Great Adventure Bible Timeline seminar were reintroduced to the power of storytelling that lies at the heart of the Bible. When one looks at Scripture as a dramatic story of sin and redemption, as opposed to the frequent habit of approaching random parts of the Bible in a vacuum, the epic and yet intimate scope of the Bible’s consistent theme of God coming to mankind and mankind returning to God is powerfully interwoven.
“By reflecting on the timeline approach to better understanding salvation history,” Evers said, “one is simply amazed by how complementary the New Testament is with the Old.” Cavins pointed out how seemingly mundane details in the New Testament point back to the Old. “Everything finds its fulfillment in Christ,” Cavins said.
Following his presentation at Christ Cathedral, Cavins travels to Washington, D.C. for a two-day seminar in October 2019 at the Museum of the Bible. This past September, Cavins was a guest on Orange County Catholic Radio, chatting with host Rick Howick about his own personal reflections of the impact the Bible Timeline adventure has had on his own life.
Down at JSerra, Reidy is seeing the positive effects of the Bible Timeline program. “Students are falling in love with God’s story,” Reidy said. “How else can you explain a sophomore girl’s comment to me today: ‘The Old Testament rocks!’?”