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Tag: Chain References

Thompson Chain Reference Bible by Zondervan

Thompson Chain Reference Bible by Zondervan

 

 

Thompson Chain Photos

 

Before we even begin the review I want to share that I have a very special connection to the Thompson Chain Reference Bible and I want to disclose that it is one of my most highly recommended tools for Bible teachers. In October of  1996, I taught my fist Bible lesson from my grandfather’s Thompson Chain Reference Bible. Nearly 25 years later, it is one of two Study Bibles that I recommend, almost to the point of insistence.

 

This will be a simultaneous review of three of the four TCR currently offered by Zondervan. Zondervan Publishers sent me KJV and NASB Editions and Bible Gateway sent me the New King James Version. Note: All three Bibles were sent to me free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review (even though I am definitely going to give a positive review) simply an honest one.

Translations offered:

Currently, Zondervan publishes the Thompson in the NKJV, NASB, KJV, and ESV. The NIV will follow very shortly.

NKJV-  New King James Version is far and away my most used translation. It Is very literal, much like its predecessor though it is, oddly not as popular.

New American Standard Bible- Considered to be the most literal English Translation currently available, The NASB is the heir of the most literal English translation that has been made, The American Standard Version.

King James Version- The definitive English Bible, the standard for more than 400 years. The Thompson Chain has been continually offered in the KJV for over 100  years.

 

What makes the TCR unique?

Complete alphabetical and numerical indices listing all 8,000 topics with corresponding pilot numbers and Bible references for comprehensive topical study. It happens that this is the feature which causes me to say that the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is one of the only two Bibles you will ever need.

If a pastor were to take one topical chain per week, it would take just under 154 years to preach all 8000 topics. You would quite literally die before you ran out of things to preach, Were you to preach one topical sermon every Sunday Morning, Sunday Evening, and Wednesday Evening Worship Service, there is 51 years worth of material.

 

Bible study aids:  biographical sketches of the most prominent people in the Bible, an archeological supplement, glossary, concordance, Bible harmonies, and outlines of each book of the Bible.

If you thought the Topical Chains were impressive, these additional helps essentially put a seminary grade library in you backpack.

I will just address one of these, the analysis of each book of the Bible. These are presented in an Expository Outline Format.  Each outline presents the minimum necessary to understand each book.

Key Verses and Key Thoughts provide basic information readers can use to develop their own study

Paper, layout and font

The font comes in at 8.5 which is a little smallish for me. The paper is crisp white but there is not a lot of glare, even in the unforgiving Arizona sunlight. The red-letter section is much better than in older editions. Unlike earlier editions, where the red letters were rather pinkish, the red letters here are a deep rich cranberry.

The text is laid out in  a quad column format. Scripture texts are in the center two columns and the reference chains are in the outer columns.

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the jacketed hardcover but the TCR is also available in a a very nice imitation leather and a bonded leather. I a told that when the Comfort Print Editions release next year, there will genuine leather options and a Premier Collection Edition,

Thompson and Key Word Bible, Perfect Together

The Thompson Chain Reference Bible pairs perfectly with the Keyword Study Bible. Most of the world’s pastors have no seminary training and so these two work together as the perfect study library for a pastor. I wish it were possible to merge the two into one physical book but that massive tome would be too much to try to carry. I have said that there are only two study bibles that you really need and these are it.

 

For Every Day Carry

The Thompson is a fairly standard size Bible. It is fairly easy to use for every day carry. In my case, it stays on my desk with my =magnifier. In most cases, though, you will not have any issues using it for daily carry.

For preaching and teaching

The TCR is not designed for pulpit use. However, it is ideally suited, more so than any other, to lesson prep. As I mentioned earlier, the Thompson chain is absolutely the perfect choice of lesson preparation.

What about the NIV Thomason Chain?

Fear not, the NIV Thompson Chain will return in the Comfort Print Edition. I believe that the new edition will be the 2011 NIV despite the fact that Kirkbride only published the NIV TCR in either the 1978 or 1984 NIV.

From what various sources tell me, the NIV will remain in paragraph format as per Biblica’s requirements. I am also told that, at the very least, the NIV will be the Premier Collection Offering for the Thompson Chain

Do I recommend it?

I sure do! For nearly 25 years, the Thompson has been on my desk and has been a primary choice for lesson preparation. Like I said, there is between 41-134 year’s worth of preaching material

 

 

NIV Giant Print Reference Bible Review

NIV Giant Print Reference Bible Review

 

The New International Version is one of the two best-selling English Translations of the Bible and I have enjoyed reviewing a number of them. This time around I am reviewing the Giant Print Reference Bible with Comfort Print, which you may recall seeing in my pulpit. Note: Unlike other Bibles, Zondervan did not provide this Bible for review. It was acquired at my own expense.

Additional Pictures

 

Cover and Binding

When selecting this Bible, I opted for the Burgundy Bonded Leather edition as it was the highest quality cover that is available. It has a paste down liner, making it a little stiff. The stiffness is not too bad and, as all leathers do, it will soften up a bit over time. If you plan to make this a daily Bible, know that bonded leathers tend to need their covers replaced after 5-10 years, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the quality of the base leather used in the bonding process.

 

This Bible does have a sewn Binding. For the purposes that I have selected this Bible, a sewn binding was absolutely essential, otherwise it would be useless within about 36 months.

 

Paper, Layout, Font

The paper is fairly crisp white. There is mild reflection in bright light but nothing that would irritating. It features half-moon style thumb indexing. I realize that many dislike this feature but I find it almost necessary to my purposes. I did memorize the order of the books of the Bible way back in second grade but in the pulpit, indexing makes for faster access to the text needed. I would say that the paper is sufficiently opaque for marking and, as I tend to do, I recommend the use of ball point pen for marking.

 

The text is laid out in double column paragraph format; translators footnotes are in a column at the bottom right corner of the page. The verse numbers are both large enough and dark enough to find with relative ease.

 

The Comfort Print font is extremely well done in this edition. The black letter portion is a deeper richer ebony than you find in many of Zondervan’s other Bibles. The red letters really impress me, especially at this Bible’s price point. In far too many cases, red-letter Bibles turn pink but not so here. The red is very well done, consistent, deep, rich and most importantly, easily readable in the pulpit.

 

For Preaching

I have a few NIV, including the Premier Collection Large Print Thin-line (11-point font) which is a phenomenal choice for preaching. However, middle age and diabetes wear on my eyes, leading me to reach for the 13.5 font size in the Giant Print.

 

It is a very versatile Bible. I tend to be peripatetic and this edition is very well balanced for one handed use. The Giant Print edition also works out well on the pulpit in that it does not add to eye strain when laid on the pulpit for reading.

 

In many reference Bibles, the references can be found in center column and that is the format I am most used to. However, the end-of-verse reference format is far preferable to a center column format as the references are still available for rapid use but do not get in the way of the flow of reading the text.

 

Helps

The NIV Giant Print Reference Bible offers a limited scope of helps, a fact which I find refreshing. There are so many NIV Bibles, covering a wide range of needs, with multiple helps that it is quite a relief that we get the essential helps but not a ton more.

 

Cross-References

The cross-references are located following the verse, hence the moniker End-of-Verse references. The reference system in this particular Bible is a condensed version of the Zondervan Reference System, around 12,500 references or so. It is rare for me to use references in sermon prep though there have been situations where I had forgotten a passage I wanted to reference and seeing the reference jogged my memory.

 

Lined Notes Pages

Lined Notes Pages? I am delighted. The presence of lined notes pages begins to answer my wish that every Bible included them. We get about a half dozen pages, certainly not enough for sermon notes but more than adequate for more important notes like the Romans Road etc. If Zondervan would give me my way, they would release an edition of this Bible with 4-5 lined notes pages per book. Pastor’s write in our Bibles, why not have sufficient room.

 

Dictionary Concordance

A condensed version of John Kohlenberger’s excellent concordance is provided for us. Key terms are defined and then given the corresponding textual references for further study.

 

Final Thoughts

I am quite pleased with this Bible. For the price point, you get a very good value for the money. I would like it to have a higher grade leather but that is a niggling little detail easily corrected by a re-binder.

 

I would tweak a few things but they are more aesthetic than utilitarian. I realize that an NIV Preaching Bible is forthcoming in the near future (I am already committed to review) and I think it will be excellent but for preaching, the Giant Print NIV really knocks it out of the park. At its price-point, this Bible is well done and well worth the money.

 

A special note to my pastor brethren: In the pulpit, one should have the largest font possible without forfeiting practicality. If you are preaching from NIV, this is an excellent choice.

 

 

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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