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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 Deluxe Single-Column Comfort Print Reference Bible with Topical Link References

NIV Deluxe Single-Column Comfort Print Reference Bible with Topical Link References

Click for more photos

 

Zondervan has taken one of my favorite Bible formats and added a  an interesting tweak to it. The new  NIV Single Column Reference Bible, now, not only has standard references, it also includes topical link references. Before we go any further, I disclose that Zondervan sent me a copy of the Premier Collection Edition free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to give a positive review and  my opinions are my own.

 

From Zondervan:

features:

  • Complete text of the accurate, readable, and clear New International Version (NIV)
  • Hand-bound in a supple goatskin leather cover
  • Smyth-sewn and edge-lined construction for flexibility
  • Art-gilt page edging, with gilt line and perimeter stitching
  • Bottom-of-the-page topical links tie Scripture themes together
  • Over 100,000 cross-references and thousands of topical link connections
  • 8 Pages of full-color maps
  • Concordance
  • Single-column format
  • Elegant two-color page design on premium European Bible paper
  • Theww satin ribbon markers
  • Premium goatskin leather cover lays flat when open
  • Exclusive Zondervan NIV Comfort Print Typeface
  • 9.5-point print size

 

Translation

We start off with the New International Version (NIV), the world’s best-selling English translation of the Bible. For those who do not remember, or are not familiar with the NIV, it is a mediating translation, meaning that it blends the best of both modes of translation, word-for-word and meaning based translations.

NIV is one of the most ideally suited translations for study of the Scriptures, offering the largest range of commentaries, Study/Reference Bibles, Dictionaries etc. It is one of the main translations that I use for study and teaching and will suit the needs of virtually any Bible student quite well.

Cover and Binding

As with all of the Premier Collection, this edition is goatskin, black in this case. As usual, it is quite delightful to the touch.

It it leather/edge-lined for enhanced flexibility, i.e. more suited to one handed use. The end papers are very thick to provide a little extra sturdiness. All in all I would say this is a very well balanced book and it feels absolutely wonderful in my hands while using it.

The signatures are sewn together to ensure that the Bible lays flat and also to ensure that it will last for a lifetime of use.

Paper, Layout & Font

The Comfort Print Font lends nicely to the readability of this edition. It is listed as 9.5 for the font size and this appears to be a true font size. It is a very readable Bible. Also, this Bible is a black letter edition.

The layout is single column paragraph format with “wide margins.” I put wide margins in quotes because the wide margins also house the references. At the bottom of each page you will find the topical links for each chapter.  (more on that in the reference section)

We have a generously opaque, 36-gsm European Bible Paper. Most writing instruments should be able to be used with no issues.

References

There are two sets of references offered. First, we have the standard NIV Cross-Reference System which has around 80,000 references. Then we have the Topical Link References.

There are around 8,000 topical link references. These remind me of the NIV Topical Reference Bible that was available when I was a child. The topical links are keyed to the Concordance to further enhance your ability to have Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Additional Helps

Concordance

Kohlenberger’s full NIV Concordance is offered. It is keyed to the set of Topical Reference Links to aid with Scripture interpreting Scripture.  There is not really much that needs saying about a concordance other than to say that it serves as a basic topical guide to the study of Scripture. I would go so far as to say that if a person studied every topical like and concordance entrt offered, here, then that person would have a stronger grasp of the Bible than around 90% of the Christ professing world.

Maps

There are 8 full color maps available to help visualize the world of the Bible

Footnotes

We are provided with an abbreviated set of Translator’s Footnotes. These are found in a small callout box at the bottom right of the page.

With Premier Collection Single Column Bibles

I have also reviewed the NASB Single Colum Reference Bible and the NRSV Single Column Reference Bible in the Premier Collection. The NIV offering is thinner and lighter than its NASB cousin and about the same size as the NRSV offering.  Of the three the NRSV is my faavorite because of certain design cues but the NIV is the most useful with the 2nd class of references.

As and Every Day Carry Bible

The  NIV Single Column Reference Bible is offered in a somewhat thin-line format. It is about one and one quarter inches thick. I have a tablet pocket in my briefcase which normally holds my carry Bible for the day and this Bible fit in that pocket quite nicely. It is very light weight and did not pose any issues with carrying

As a Teaching Bible

For most people, this format is very useful for teaching. As it happens I prefer a verse by verse format but all in all this is not bad. I did not notice and difficulties in reading the text in bright light. (The font is a touch small for me to read in soft light)

Should You Buy

You should purchase this Bible if you do any kind of Bible teaching. Pastors, Sunday School Teachers, Biblical Counselors, and small group leaders will all find this Bible very useful.  I think it would also come in quite handy for the student. We often say that the Bible speaks to life, and it does, in this case with more of a practical emphasis than others.

Final Thoughts

I love the idea. My only wish is that we had lined notes pages. Half of the margins are used up by the references so it would be nice to have a place to put notes.

This is, probably, one of the most useful NIV that I have encountered in a while. The Topical Link References are an unexpected but delightful surprise. I think this Bible is an excellent offering.