LCBP Thompson Chain Reference Bible – Review
Local Church Bible Publishers has released the 5th edition, red-letter Thompson Chain Reference KJV Bible in a nice one piece black calfskin. Labeled the 365 Series, it includes everything you expect from a LCBP binding.
- Thomson Chain Reference
- Calfskin cover
- Sewn binding
- 2 ribbons
- Any color you want, as long as it’s black
- No thumb-index
- Calfskin leather
- Leather liner
- Parameter stitched
- Edge lined
- Smyth sewn
- Raised hubs
- 8-point font
- Topical based
- 100,000 chain references
- Topical index
- Topical helps
- Archaeological supplement
- 2 ribbons
- Gilted edges
- 14 Maps
- 9.75 x 6.75 x 1.5
Where to buy: LCBP Thompson Chain Reference Bible
The cover is what sets this Thompson apart. There have been Thompsons in the past that were bound in premium leathers such as calfskin and goatskin. Those editions are no longer available, and when you do find them they are priced to show their value. I recently saw one for $140, and that’s the cheapest I’ve seen. The Church Publishers edition stands out from that crowd by offering a flexible calfskin leather, leather liner, perimeter stitching, edge lined, and raised hubs for $60.
The cover is so flexible that it’s crazy. If I had one complaint it would be that it’s shinier than they used to be. Although this is a nice cover, I like the older cover on my original Note Taker’s better. It had a matte finish with a slightly more pronounced grain. This one, as well as my new Note Taker’s, doesn’t look as elegant. If I had never seen the covers from a few years ago I wouldn’t think anything about it. This cover is still nice and flexible, and unbeatable at this price.
Like every good Thompson Chain Bible, the binding is Smyth sewn. It has no problem lying flat. This is even true for Genesis 1, close to the area where the cover is edge-lined and the pages are glued together.
The paper feels like the paper in the 400th Anniversary edition. This is the kind of paper I was hoping for. This is my favorite paper in any Church Publisher’s edition and any Thompson that I’ve seen. This paper is white, which makes the font look darker even though it’s the same boldness as my other Thompsons. I prefer paper that has a cream tint, but the cream-tinted paper also has to have a bolder text to be readable. The whiter paper works better for the Thompson in my opinion because it gives more contrast and allows for a smaller and thinner font. I would like the paper to be a little more opaque.
There are two pages in the back that are labeled ‘NOTES’. My older Thompson had 18 pages. I wanted my 18 pages. The paper for this one is thick whereas the paper in my old one was thin. I don’t mind which it is, but the more paper for notes the better.
The font is 8-point. This is a red-letter edition which includes the words of Christ through Revelation. The boldness is very consistent throughout. This is a self-pronouncing text, so there are pronunciation marks on difficult words. Some of the words that have the marks don’t really need them – like Jesus, Holy, Israel, and David. This was probably more necessary 100 years ago. There are not a lot of them, so the text remains clear and readable. There are no reference or note indicators in the text, keeping the text clean. Added words are in italics.
The Thompson Chain Reference has one of the more interesting layouts of any study Bible that I’ve used. It has a list of topics for each verse in the margin, yet still keeps the text clean and without any distractions. All of this is done without commentary- allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. The page has four columns – two center columns for Scripture and two outer columns for chain references. The center columns have Scripture in verse format and chapter summaries. The columns on the outsides have the topic names and chain references, translation notes, alternate readings from the Hebrew and Greek, alternate translations from the Revised Version, dates, parallel passages, and bold section headings (in the New Testament), author name, and topic number for the analysis of the book. The only thing tying the references to the verses is the topic names. This keeps the text clear and readable. The top of the page includes the first (left page) or last (right page) chapter and verse number on that page and a page summary. Although the page layout looks technical it is easy to use and follow, and just as easy to ignore and just read the text.
The Thompson Chain Reference system is the most unique in any Bible. Rather than having letters and numbers that key to the text, there are topic names in the margin with a reference to the next verse in that topical chain. The topics are numbered, so you can look these numbers up in the topical section in the back and see all the verses on that topic. Many of the verses are printed there, so you can read from that section. The references are not distracting at all and they’re easy to find and follow. My only complaint is that the last verse in a chain doesn’t take you back to the first verse in the chain. There are 100,000 chain references, making the Thompson Chain Reference Bible one of the most helpful tools for topical study.
This is a 30-page index of topics. It gives the topic name and number. It even breaks the topics down into sub-topics. This is the first place to go for any topical study. Go to the index, find the topic you’re looking for, and then go to the topic number in the condensed cyclopedia to see the list of verses in that topic. I highly recommend using this index to find your topics.
This is where the topics come together. The condensed cyclopedia is 224 pages and includes the reference list for every topic, whether it’s in the marginal chains or not. This is the primary section for topical study. The more important topics have the verses printed so you can read from this section. Other topics give you all of the references so you can go to the references to read them. Once you find the topic number in the general index, turn to this section and find the topic number to see all of the references for the topic and its subtopics.
This section can be used for personal study, daily devotions, for finding interesting topics, and sermon and class prep. It is one of the most useful sections in the Thompson Chain Reference Bible.
Analysis of Books
This 44-page section is an in-depth analysis of each book of the Bible. Each book is different, so each analysis is designed for that book rather than following a common formula that doesn’t work for every book. Most have information that includes an outline, the author, theme, key characters, keywords, and key verse. Other information might include historical setting, spiritual message, style of writing, etc.
The character studies have several different sections. The first section is 8 pages and includes biographical sketches of the prominent characters of the Bible. The next section is 3 pages and classifies prominent characters with the meaning of their names.
The illustrated studies are 46 pages of ‘life trees’, maps, charts, and outlines of prominent people and their journeys in the Bible. Characters include Abraham, Moses, the children of Israel, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and others in the early Church. There is a lot of historical information in this section. The maps are black and white but they are well-drawn and include lots of detailed information about journeys and events. They look like they might be hard to follow because there’s so much information, but they’re not hard to use at all. This section also includes a harmony of the Gospels.
The archaeological supplement, by Frederick Owen, is 81 pages and includes lots of information about well-established places in the Bible. There are lots of pictures of places and objects, including the Rosetta Stone, the Potter’s Field, Assyrian artifacts, Egyptian artifacts, the Temple of Apollo at Corinth, Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Moabite Stone, Elba, Babylonian artifacts, Jacobs Well, the pyramids, Petra, the coffin of King Tut, and much, much more. There is also a bibliography so you can do more research. This section is amazing and fun to read. I like getting a deeper understanding of the Biblical setting. Although it hasn’t been updated for a while, most of the information still seems to be good. I think most of it is well-established. I’d like to compare this section to the information in the Archaeological Study Bible to see if anything has been changed.
The glossary is 8 pages of archaic words that are no longer in use or have changed meaning. The definitions include part of speech and Scripture references where the word is used. There are also topic numbers so you can look the words up in the topical section.
The concordance is 98 pages and has three columns per page. This is one of the most extensive concordances that I’ve seen in a Bible. There are 91 references for ‘God’. If you use a concordance a lot you’ll probably like this one.
There are 16 pages of maps. The maps are colorful and the paper is thick with a matte finish. One of my favorite features with maps is here: an index to maps. The index is separated into 6 divisions: Archaeological Sites, Biblical Names, Cultural Features, Points of Interest, Land Features, and Water Features.
This is just scratching the surface on the helps in this Bible. Other helps include study tips, Bible translations, Messianic stars, prophecies about Jesus and their fulfillment, outlines of the Old and New Testaments, harmony of the Gospels, missionary journeys, golden chapters, topical treasury, Christian workers outfit, memory verses with memory aids, marking tips, places for religious worship, a Hebrew calendar, and more. There’s a lot here to keep you busy studying the Bible for a long time.
There are two standard Church Publishers’ ribbons. I love the idea of having a Thompson with two ribbons. I do wish they were thicker and maybe a touch longer, but they do work just fine. Thicker ribbons are more elegant, but they are also more expensive. I would have paid more for better ribbons.
How I will Use the LCBP Thompson Chain Reference Bible
For a while I’ve wanted to try a different marking technique with a Thompson. My original technique is to color a verse according to its topic. I love topical study, but I don’t always like reading a verse that I’ve colored. So, I’ve been considering highlighting the topic name and reference in the margin. This would allow me to see a specific topic quickly and still have a clean text for reading. I might color-code all of the references first, and then I can color the verses if I really feel the need to. I really think that coloring the topics will be enough.
I will also consider using this as my primary carry Bible. I really like having a good reference system and a good concordance in my carry Bible. I don’t need a lot of room for notes, but I do like to write a few references and definitions here and there. I don’t really need my carry Bible to be hand-size, so the size of this Bible is fine. I don’t need a larger text as long as the font is bold enough and the paper isn’t too thin. Another Bible that I like for carry is the Cambridge Concord. There’s a lot to like in that Bible for its size. I really like having topical lists and being able to find topics quickly, so the Thompson might win. We’ll see. I’ll let you know when I write my upcoming post on carry Bibles.
If you want to buy a regular size KJV Thompson Chain Reference, then buying this one from Local Church Bible Publishers is a no-brainer. Calfskin leather for the price of bonded leather, leather lined, perimeter stitched, Smyth sewn binding, 2 ribbons, a standard Kirkbride text-block with nice paper, and a price of $60. If you’re looking for a study Bible that’s not filled with someone else’s opinions then the Thompson is one of the top choices; and for a KJV Thompson, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible from Local Church Bible Publishers is THE top choice!
Where to buy: LCBP Thompson Chain Reference Bible