Common Man’s Reference Bible Review

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The Common Man’s Reference Bible is a popular study Bible among the KJV only crowd. It’s a wide margin reference edition in large print with an edge-lined lambskin cover with notes to support the KJV-O movement. I’m reviewing the 3rd edition.

Binding

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The cover is smooth lamb-skin with a synthetic edge-lined liner. It has perimeter stitching and spine ridges. The leather is durable and flexible but it’s also soft and scratches easily. This is a sewn binding and it has no issues laying flat. The heavy tab in the edge-lining might need to break in though before the pages will lay open in Genesis. Mine lays open with no issues. The overall size is 9.75 x 7.75 x 1.5”. It includes two black ribbons, and black and gold head/tail bands.

Paper

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The paper is white and around 36gsm. It’s the same paper as found in other Bibles produced by LCBP. It has a white color and is very opaque. It has a glare under direct lighting. Since I read sitting under a lamp I sometimes had to move the Bible around to see the text.

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The presentation and family pages in the front look and feel like elegant parchment.

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There are 24 ruled pages in the back for notes. This is the same paper as the rest of the Bible.

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Typography

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The page layout is the typical two-column verse-by-verse center-column layout with study notes under the text. The header shows a page summary in the inner column and the book name with chapter number in the outer column. The page numbers are centered in the footer.

The font is just slightly under 10-point with a generous leading. It’s black letter with about a medium darkness that’s consistent throughout. It’s a clean and sharp font without any pronunciation marks. It does include italics for supplied words. I had no issues reading from it.

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The columns are 1.8” wide. It has around 34 characters across, giving space for around 7 words per line. The text never feels cramped. It has enough leading for underlining.

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This is a wide margin edition. The inner, outer, and footer margins are 1.25”, the header margin is 1.125. The binding lets it lay flat so the inner margin is easy to write in.

References

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References are placed in the center column and are keyed with letters. They follow the older design style used in Bibles such as the Brevier Clarendon Wide Margin where the letters are assigned from left to right, meaning references labeled a might apply to a verse in the left column while b and c might apply to the right column.

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The references do not appear next to their verses. I find this method to be more difficult to follow than the method used in the Concord (which uses the Bold Reference system that places the verse number next to the verse it corresponds to).

The reference column includes the date of writing or the date of the events.

Here are some samples to help you compare:

  • Genesis 1:1 – Jn 1:1; 8:44; Heb 1:3; 11:1-6; Pr 8:22-30
  • Deuteronomy 6:4 – Gn 1:27; Jn 10:30; Eph 4:4-7
  • Matthew 17:20 – Rom 10:17; Heb 11:6; Mt 13:31; Lk 17:6; Mk 11:23
  • Mark 11:23 – Mt 17:20; Lk 17:6;
  • Mark 12:29 – Dt 6:4-5
  • John 1:1 – Gn 1:1; Pr 8:22; 1 Jn 1:1; 1 Jn 1:14; 1 Jn 5:7; Rev 19:13; 1 Tim 3:16
  • 1 John 1:1 – Jn 1:1; Lk 1:2; Ac 1:22; 2 Pt 1:16; Lk 24:39; Jn 1:14; Phil 2:16

Footnotes
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The original translator’s footnotes have been removed and replaced with common sayings that we hear in everyday speech. These are to show which verses in the KJV the sayings came from. This shows the great impact the KJV has had on our culture. Some don’t seem to apply while others obviously do. The KJV has had a great impact on our society and literature and I like seeing this.

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I do like having these common sayings but they should not have replaced the translator’s footnotes with them. The translators footnote’s are part of the KJV translation and should be included in any reference edition.

Book Introductions

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Book introductions are around 2-3 paragraphs and discuss the purpose of writing and the major events. It gives references where the events are discussed in other books of Scripture. It also shows the number of chapters and verses in the book. Some parallels are made to support doctrines. Some parallels work better than others. For example, the removal of Queen Vashti is used as symbolic of the rapture of the Church while the events following her removal do not follow anything else in the end time.

Commentary

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The commentary is extreme KJV-O. I don’t have a problem with notes that have a bias. All study Bibles have a bias of some kind. Some have a stronger bias than others. I do have issues with commentary that make bad arguments. The commentary has a KJV bias, but the bias is supported with arguments that are filled with logical fallacies and false information. Comments are made as harsh as possible as if that proves the point or makes them true.

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Biased commentary in study Bibles should give you solid evidence to help you defend the beliefs that it supports. The arguments presented in this study Bible don’t do this. They won’t help you convince the niegh sayers. Instead they’ll just point out the flaws in your logic (either to your face or behind your back) and they’ll be convinced you have no real proof for your beliefs. Not matter what your beliefs are your arguments must be credible.

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I recommend against using these notes. Not because they’re KJV only, but because they’re filled with logical fallacies and you will lose credibility if you build your arguments this way. These notes do not keep Scripture in its proper context. They insert the KJV or the King’s English into the verse just because they want to. This is no different from the practices of Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Mormons.
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Please don’t misunderstand… this isn’t an anti-KJV-O post. Be KJV-O if you want, just don’t use arguments like these to support your beliefs. These arguments will make you lose credibility. My suggestion is to test every argument against logical fallacies. If it stands the test then it’s a good argument. These don’t stand the test. These notes are great for showing you how not to build an argument.

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Like all study Bibles with commentary, I recommend that you do your own research. This edition does not include a bibliography or any references to support its claims to help you with further study.

Maps

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There are 12 full-color maps on thick glossy paper. They show the location of Eden and the Red Sea crossing as if they’ve been found. I would have marked them as ‘possible locations’. The maps include topography, distance cities, water, routes, and Scripture references.

Maps include:

  1. Eden, Abrahamic Land Grant
  2. Time of the Patriarchs
  3. The Route of the Exodus
  4. The Route of the Promised Land
  5. General Locations of the Tribes of Israel
  6. The Kingdom of David
  7. Time of Christ Jesus
  8. Paul’s First Missionary Journey
  9. Paul’s Second Missionary Journey
  10. Paul’s Third Missionary Journey
  11. Paul’s Extradition Trip to Rome
  12. Seven Churches of Asia

Conclusion

The construction and materials is identical to Bibles from LCBP. If you like marking in those Bibles then you’ll like marking in this one. The Translator’s to the Reader and the translator’s footnotes are not included.

If you’re looking for a wide margin Bible with references I would steer you toward the Cambridge Concord or the Brevier Clarendon. They have far better paper, darker print, translator’s footnotes, ruled notebook paper for your own notes, index to notes, and index to maps. The Concord includes the Translator’s to the Reader and a concordance. Both have the advantage of having smaller Bibles that match he wide margin edition so you can have a combo. Another option is the LCBP Note Takers if you want large print text-only edition.

The logical fallacies, poor scholarship, and leaping assumptions in the notes keep me from recommending this Bible. If you’re looking for quality arguments to support your KJV-O view, this Bible won’t help you. If you find it at a good deal and you like LCBP’s paper and covers, then I recommend buying it and adding your own notes.

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there’s also that author thing.

7 Comments

  1. Paul

    Great review, Randy.
    It’s nice to finally hear somebody warn people about this “study” Bible!
    The best study Bible is a wide margin one, in whatever translation you prefer, with plenty of lined paper in it, and nice wide margins to write what the Holy Spirit reveals to you.

    Reply
    • Randy A Brown

      Thanks Paul! I agree 100%!

  2. John M

    Randy,

    I agree completely with your review. I cannot give my copy away because I would not want another
    Christian misled by these notes.

    John

    Reply
  3. Mark Sadler

    Thanks Randy. I was thinking of getting one and then I saw how horrific these notes are. I feel sorry if there are people buying into these sort of notes without question.

    Reply
  4. GEORGE mckinney

    I agree completely with you, sir. I would go a step further and give the analogy of our Lord. A wolf in sheep’s clothing (lamb cover)

    Reply
  5. Tim turenne

    This particular study Bible was ( a couple years ago) my first leap into the world of finely crafted Bible’s in lambskin. Boy was I excited when it arrived. I immediately embarked on reading it through bringing various comments to my wife’s attention by way of comment. She was appalled at some of the notes as was I. It’s such a beautiful example of workmanship but I have never really picked it up again because of the notes and the larger size.

    Reply
  6. David j. Buzulak

    My family uses the Common Man’s bible. The notes are fantastic. They are fundamental. Surely I cannot agree w/ all of the notes, for example-the Gap Theory is supported in this bible. I cannot support the Gap Theory at all. BUT considering the rest of the notes, I have zero complaints. It is the ONLY bible w/ commentary that I suggest my children to buy. Again, the notes are definitely Independent Fundamental Baptist in nature. Thanks for the review and thank you for allowing my response.

    Reply

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