Thompson Chain Reference Bible (TCR). It is one of the top two pure study Bibles that you can buy today. When I say it is a pure study Bible, I mean that it is free of any commentary and comes as close to not having any denominational bias as is possible, which is an amazing feat because Fran Thompson was a Methodist Minister. The TCR has been around for a little over an hundred years and my family has trusted TCR for almost 60 of those years. My grandfather studied and taught from a TCR and, even though it is not my primary preaching Bible, I also study from the TCR; nearly every pastor that I know references it as well. We will talk about why TCR is preferable in a minute. Since we are doing our first review of a Bible from Church Bible Publishers, I want to give you some background and then we will talk about the features of the Bible. (Note: CBP did not provide this Bible and they did not solicit this review.)
Based in Cadillac, Michigan, Church Bible Publishers (CBP) is a true not for profit Bible publisher. CBP sells their Bibles at cost to make it more readily available to average Christians. In addition to making high quality, low cost Bibles available, CBP also provides Bibles for jail/prison ministry and they also support World Missions/Bearing Precious Seed to provide Bibles overseas. I would liken CBP to my dear friends at the Trinitarian Bible Society and I would love to see them cooperate since they have the same stated goals and both publish some amazing editions of the KJV Bible.
Now the review…
CBP only publishes the King James Version of the Bible. Because they use the Cambridge Text Block and not the Oxford, they can rightfully say that they publish the Authorised Version (I used the Anglican spelling on purpose as Cambridge is Her Majesty’s publisher and holds letters patent to print the KJV.) I will say two things about the choice to only print KJV and I am sure that I will anger some of you in so saying: 1. I am not a King James Onlyist which means I do read other translations. 2. I am grateful that CBP has chosen to only publish the KJV. If you are scratching your head right now, those are not contradictory statements. I love the KJV and read from it often but I also read other translations. More importantly, when you focus on a single translation, you can focus more on putting a quality, enjoyable product into the hands of your customers. I say, regularly, that the entire Bible experience should be a joy and that includes the choice of translation and publisher.
The Large Print TCR that I was able to acquire is bound in black ironed calfskin. “Ironed” means that the grain has been pressed out and that it is very smooth. To give you an example of how smooth, I told a friend it is like touching your face after a professional hot lather shave. It is luxuriously soft and nearly as touchable as velvet or silk. I love the way the leather feels and smells. There is nothing quite like a nice leather and CBP has found excellent stock.
All CBP Bibles have a sewn binding; this fact is so important that I endeavor to not purchase any Bibles that have a glued binding. By using a sewn binding you guarantee some very important things will happen. You guarantee that the Bible will last a lifetime (my grandfather’s Thompson lasted him 40 years and 17 years later it is still going strong for me. You also guarantee that the book itself will open and lay flat regardless of where you open the Bible.
Paper and Ink
The paper is a crisp white and gloriously opaque. I am not sure how CBP does it, but it looks as though they have a darker ink that is much easier on the eyes. Even in the severe Arizona sun, I had no issues reading my TCR.
The large print TCR is listed as $85.00 USD on the CBP website. This is important because it is nearly $30 lower in cost than the top tier offering from Kirkbride, the normal publisher of the TCR and Kirkbride does not even offer calfskin.
Not finding any warranty information on the website or in the Bible itself, I called CBP to ask about the warranty. It was explained to me that they handle each warranty claim on a case by case basis to ensure that each customer has the best overall experience possible.
TCR Edition and Features
CBP is printing the 5th Improved Edition of the Thompson Chain. Each TCR includes the following features:
* Over 100,000 topical references * Over 8,000 Chain Topics * Updated Archaeological Supplement with photos and maps * Outline studies of each book of the Bible * Journey maps and Bible harmonies * Biblical Atlas * Bible Book Outlines
Detailed Features of a TCR (From my review of the NASB hardcover)
- Every Thompson Chain Bible has over 8,000 completed chain topics. These topics take every important verse of scripture and codify it into topics that can be traced from Genesis to Revelation. Operating under the principle that Scripture interprets Scripture, these chains take you through each topic in such a way as to allow the Bible to illuminate itself and guide you into deeper understanding of the Bible.
- Outline Study/Analysis of each Book. In the Helps Section, found in the back of the Bible, every book of the Bible is presented in outline form. Each outline serves as an excellent guide to expository study of the Bible.
- Updated Archaeological Supplement. The Archaeological Supplement brings the Bible to life in a new and exciting way. Each article is keyed to the Thompson Chain Reference System allowing you to see how recent discoveries support and affirm the truths of the Bible.
- Character Outline Studies. Character studies not only highlight the major players of the Bible, they also provide background information as to the condition of the society at their time, and how the character relates to God and to redemptive history.
- Harmony of the Gospels. The Harmony of the Gospels Supplement is as straightforward as it is useful. Each story from the life of Christ is listed along with the corresponding passages from the Gospels. This is an excellent resource for an in-depth study of the life of Christ.
- Portraits of Christ. Portraits of Christ provide 7 different views of the Lord’scharacter as seen by Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Revelation.
- Bible Atlas (13 maps). Many of the maps in the Bible Atlas are keyed to the Thompson Chain. You not only get to picture the lands of the Bible, you can also easily trace the journey of many of the key players.
|Dimensions||10.75 x 8 x 1.5 in|
|Cover Type||Ironed Calfskin|
|Cover Styles||1 Piece|
|Features||Concordance, Large Print, Maps with Index, Red Letter, Self-pronouncing text, Study Bible|
|Font Size||Bible Text – 9 pt, Center Reference – 6-7 pt|
|Margin Size||Bottom – 0.25″, Inside – 0.5″, Outside – 0.625″, Top – 0.5″|
|Add Gift Box||No|
Final Thoughts and should you buy this Bible?
How could I not recommend that you buy this Bible? The TCR is one of the best study Bibles that you can buy and, unless Cambridge, Allan, or Schuyler release one in goatskin, this is the best TCR you can get. TCR is also available from CBP in a “midsize” which we would normally call the standard size TCR, no doubt in the same high quality leather. If you want the best study tool you can have and you want it in a format that will last a lifetime, this is the TCR that you want.