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KJV Perfected: Westminster Reference Bible (Recovered)

KJV Perfected: Westminster Reference Bible (Recovered)

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In an earlier review that I wrote for Bible Buying Guide, I mentioned that I felt there were very few Bibles that deserved to sit on the same shelf as the venerable Thompson Chain Reference Bible (TCR). Imagine my surprise at not only finding a Bible worthy of the same shelf as the TCR but actually a rival to the throne. Enter the Westminster Reference Edition of the King James Bible from the Trinitarian Bible Society…

This is doubtlessly one of the top three reference Bibles available and with all the positives to discuss it is hard to know where to start.

 

References

On their website, Trinitarian Bible Society makes the bold claim that there are over 200,000 references. On this fact alone the Westminster rivals the Thompson and bests the NASB Side Column Reference Edition and its 95,000 cross-references. I call it a rival because, even though it has 100,000 more references than Thompson, it does not offer the topical chains that Thompson offers.

Ordinarily, I do not use the reference features in most of my Bibles, as they generally do not follow my train of thought. The Westminster, however, not only has references consistent with my train of thought, it also took me in a couple directions that I had not originally planned to go.

Translation

The Westminster uses the King James Version. Say what you will about the KJV, it is the perfect pairing. It feels distinctly pastoral; my first impulse after I opened it was to reach for my macbook and begin taking notes and that is the first time that has happened. Usually I go for my favorite passages of Scripture to capture that feeling of familiarity.

This particular version of the KJV has notes that have been preserved from the original translators and carried forward to this edition. It is quite fascinating; not only do you get an introduction to each chapter, but you also get a peek into the minds of the most learned men who crafted what would become the dominant Bible in the English speaking world for over 400 years.

The Cover

Calfskin. Do I really need to say more? Well yes. While this is a genuine calfskin cover it is not floppy like a Side Column Reference. I will leave it up to you to decide it that is good or bad. For me it comes down to this, it feels just right in my hand. I don’t really have a better way to say it than that. When I hold this Bible, open or closed, it feels like it was meant to be in my hand.

Font, Text Layout, Readability

This is a very readable 9.6-point font. The layout is double-column verse by verse with the references in the side columns. Because of the generous font and amount of references, you are, sadly, left lacking a useful margin (By now you know that I love wide margins). On the other hand you do get what is probably the most readable handy sized Bible.

The Paper

The paper is a major win for this Bible. It’s cream colored with excellent opacity. Unfortunately, TBS does not offer much in the way of technical details on their website and, at the time of my writing, I have not successfully reached them to find out the specifications on the paper, though I am not certain that it matters unless, like me, you are a total nerd and cannot properly geek out without knowing such things.

I have used this Bible in several settings with various lighting conditions: at church with the bright lights in our massive auditorium, the break room at work, the restaurant with breakfast, and in the soft light of my bedside table (40W Bulb); in every instance it was totally successful. Sometimes, I enjoy a Psalm or two before bed and this is where I would usually find ghosting. There are one or two spots but if I were to complain about that, it would be nothing more than ungrateful nitpicking.

The texture and feel is amazing. Some paper feels abrupt, coarse and heavy. This paper, though, is quite soft and (if you will pardon the cliché) smooth like ice cream fresh from the churn. It begs to be touched, to caress the hand, to draw you into an interaction with the Word. I said earlier and I will repeat myself, this Bible, to my hands, feels like someone came and noticed every flaw, every callous, every ridge on my hands and then custom crafted a Bible just for me.

Actually, to say that it has excellent opacity was an understatement. From a normal distance I could not distinguish any ghosting or see through. I could see a little when I held up a single page, but as I said to go any further on that would be ungrateful nitpicking.

A Pastoral Perspective

The church I grew up in used KJV almost exclusively (NIV came to the mainstream in 1984 when I was 2), my first sermons were preached from KJV, and I still reach for it quite often. Until the Westminster Reference Bible, my choice of KJV was a cowhide Giant Print Reference Edition from Holman Bible Publishers and while it does have larger font, I am happy to say that my Westminster will replace it for most, if not all, KJV related needs.

You will find it to be an excellent pulpit Bible, a faithful companion during visitation, and an able companion for your study.

If you can only buy one more Bible, get this or the Thompson. If you can get both, do not hesitate to do so. At a price of $65-$80 for a calfskin you cannot go wrong. I also encourage the giving of this as a gift for your pastor. It will be a resource he treasures and uses well for a lifetime.

Until next time, Beloved, Worship Vigorously, Serve Actively, Teach Faithfully, and may mercy, grace, and peace be with you.

 

 

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