TBS Westminster Reference Bible Review
The Westminster Reference Bible from TBS is a new setting of the King James Version with some very impressive features. With 200,000 references, large font, marginal notes and definitions, and calfskin cover with sewn binding, and more, the Westminster Reference Bible is an amazing KJV at an amazing price.
- 200,000 cross-references
- Four ribbons
- 9.6 font
- Chapter summaries
- Premium calfskin
- Smyth sewn
- Well, not every Bible has a con…
- Calfskin cover
- Sewn binding
- Bible paper
- Presentation page
- Translators to the Reader
- Epistle Dedicatory
- 9.6 font
- Black letter
- 200,000 cross references
- Translation notes
- Definitions in the margins
- Chapter summaries
- 4 ribbon markers
- Word list with pronunciation guide
- Reading plan
- Multiple tables of weights and measures
- 32 pages for notes
- 8 maps
- Gilt edges
- 8.5 x 6 x 1.5
- 1700 pages
- ISBN: 978-1-86228-168-4
- Printed in the Netherlands by Jongbloed
Cover and Binding
This edition is calfskin cover with a vinyl liner. The calfskin is smooth and has a soft feel, but it is also fairly stiff. It might soften up with use. I actually like it the way it is. Although it’s not very pronounced, it does have a grainy texture that looks and feels great. The binding is Smyth sewn. It has no problem lying flat in Genesis 1.
The paper is thin and has a nice cream tint. This is my favorite shade for paper. A slight cream tint looks better to me and makes the page easier to read for extended periods of time. The opacity is decent. There are 32 blank pages in the back for writing. They are the same paper as the rest of the text. Good writing paper would be nice, but I’d rather have this paper than nothing. I really appreciate that it’s there. I’d like to see blank pages become the standard in Bible publishing.
Text and Layout
The font is 9.6 with a generous leading. The font is sharp and clean. The print has line-matching, so the lines on both sides of the page line up with each other. This greatly enhances readability. This is a black letter edition. It includes italics for supplied words and rather than being a self-pronouncing text, a pronunciation guide appears in the back.
This has a two-column layout for the text with references on the outer and inner margins. The text is in verse-by-verse format. This is my favorite format for study and using in Church. At the top of each page is a title for that page (a one-line summary), the book name, and chapters that appear on that page.
At the beginning of each chapter is a summary of that chapter. The chapter summaries are taken from the 1773 AV (KJV) printing by Eyre and Strahan. Obsolete words that do not appear in the text have been replaced with modern words or words found in the text. The chapter summaries span the margin and the text, taking two columns. They’re printed in italics and have the largest font size I’ve seen for chapter summaries. I’m guessing, but they look to be around 7-7.5.
The 200,000 cross-references are the most I’ve ever seen in a Bible. They are a combination of John Brown’s Self Interpreting Bible published in 1778 and the references from the Concord. You can tell there are two sets of references because there is a string of references are in Biblical order followed by another string of references in Biblical order. The amount of references is massive, but they don’t always apply as perfectly as I would like. That’s better than having references left out. References are keyed to the text with letters and are located as close as possible to the verse they go with.
Translator’s Footnotes and Definitions
The original translators’ notes on alternate Hebrew or Greek renderings are included in the margins. They are keyed to the text with numbers. Also in the margins are definitions of words that are no longer in use, words that have changed meaning, plants, animals, and objects. The definitions are keyed to the text with an asterisk. The asterisk also appears in the margin with the word and its definition.
There are four ribbon markers in this edition (the hard cover editions have two). There are two red ribbons for the Old Testament and two black ribbons for the New Testament. They’re .25 inches wide.
The gilting seems to flake off or smudge a little too easily. I placed my thumb on the edges and it left a small circle where my thumb was touching. Then I started noticing it in other places. It’s not bad by any means. It’s not even that noticeable, but it could become more noticeable over time.
Tables of Weights and Measures
There are 5.25 pages of tables that describe weights and measure. The tables include Old Testament weights, lengths, liquid measures, dry measures, money, and time, and then the same tables for the New Testament. The tables include the type of measure, Hebrew or Greek words used, modern equivalents in US and British amounts, and Biblical references where the measures are used. The text is keyed to the tables by a symbol. The same symbol appears in the margin with a reference to appendix 1. These are very extensive and very useful.
List of Words and Proper Names
Rather than having pronunciation symbols within the text, there are 14 pages of words and a guide to pronunciation in the appendixes. This keeps the text clean and readable and still gives an easy to find pronunciation guide when you want it.
The reading plan will lead you through the whole Bible once, and the New Testament and Psalms twice in two years. Each days’ reading includes the Old Testament and either Psalms or the New Testament.
The concordance is 139 pages. It looks a lot like the one found in the Concord, where the next verse appears on the same line as the precious verse rather than starting on a new line. I find this style of concordance difficult to use, but this style does allow more verses for less space. It has a lot of entries. It has over 50 entries for ‘God’.
There are 8 full color maps on thick, non-glossy, paper. Some of the maps have arrows and annotations that look like modern presentation slides. I like it. I love the colors of the maps. They remind me of a Risk game board. One thing I would like to see added is an index to maps. I think that should be a standard in Bible publishing.
Here are a few comparisons to other Bibles. They are: Longprimer, Concord, Clarion, and Thompson (in that order).
The philosophy behind the TBS Westminster Reference Bible is that Scripture should interpret Scripture, and the best study Bible would be a Bible that supported this train of thought. The 200,000 cross-references in the Westminster excel at allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, making the TBS Westminster Reference Bible a top choice for a study Bible. TBS got it right. They’ve added what is needed and not added what is not needed. I would like to see a few additions, like an index to maps, but that’s a very small complaint and I wouldn’t use it that much anyway. Everything I need is here. The book size feels right, the text size feels right, the paper feels right, the price feels right, and the study tools are amazing. The TBS Westminster Reference Bible is my favorite KJV on the market today.
Where to Buy
TBS provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review. My opinions are my own.