Topical Reference Bible – Complete Analytical Study Edition KJV Review

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Some back story…

I was first introduced to the Topical Reference Bible in 1992. I bought it from a Preacher that was preaching in a tent revival that we were supporting. I was playing guitar in the revival (I am a Church musician). The edition I bought was published in 1985 by Dugan Publishers. It became my carry and study Bible until I got a genuine leather Thompson for $7.00. I was developing my marking methods and wanted a new Bible to start over. I used the Thompson for many years, but I missed my Dugan (which was bonded leather and very much worn out). I was getting tired of the poor print and paper quality of the Thompson (at least my Thompson), so I searched for another Dugan. I found several on eBay, but they were going for over $100 (out of my price range). I ended up getting the Note-taker’s from Local Church Bible Publishers. I loved the Note-taker’s, but I still wanted a topical reference Bible. I kept searching and learning about Bibles, Bible tools, and Bible publishing. The knowledge I gained from that several years of searching for the perfect Bible, and the Bible’s I was collecting, compelled me to share my knowledge and start Bible Buying Guide. And now I’ve decided to write a review of the Bible that started me down the path of Bible-geekiness. OK, back to the topic…

Note – the Bible in these photos is the Jubilee edition with thumb-index. It was recently acquired and has a damaged cover. I’m planning to have it rebound. When I do, I will be sure to post new photos. I also have this Bible as a Dugan. In this review I’m making many comparisons between the two.

Various publishers…

This Bible has been published in many forms by many publishers over the years. I’m not positive as to who published it first. I recently bought a Wilmore edition published by Funk and Wagnall in 1918. This wasn’t the first edition of the Wilmore, but I suspect the Wilmore was the original version of this Bible. It is very large and has thumb index and full color maps. There were versions of it printed in the 70’s for Crusade. They removed the Bible Helps and the Cruden’s Concordance. It was also published by Jubilee (with all of the tools intact). I can’t be sure, but I’ve heard that Jubilee did the printing for Dugan, and when Dugan went out of business, Jubilee just published in it their own name. I saw a Jubilee edition that had a Strong’s Hebrew and Greek dictionary instead of the normal “Comprehensive Bible Helps” encyclopedia. Today’s versions are known by names such as “The Subject Bible”, although the newer versions are not even close to the original because they’ve removed many of the tools that made it such an awesome study Bible. So, what are these tools that have me raving about how awesome the Topical Reference Bible is? Let us look and see…

Features…

  • 100,000 references
  • Chapter summaries
  • Translation notes
  • Philip Schaff’s “Comprehensive Bible Helps” (Bible Dictionary/Encyclopedia)
  • Roswell Hitchcock’s “The Whole Bible by Subjects”
  • Topical Index
  • Cruden’s Concordance
  • 9 5/8 x 6 7/8 with thumb-index (6 ¾ without)  x 1.75

Cover and Binding

This Bible was available in bonded leather, genuine leather, or top-grain leather. My Dugan is bonded leather and is badly torn. The Jubilee is also bonded, but its wear is from being chewed by a puppy. I’ll keep it in an organizer Bible cover until I get it rebound.

The binding is sewn and has no problem lying flat on the very first page.

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Paper and Font

The paper is very thin (it has to be since this Bible has almost 2200 pages!), but surprisingly opaque. It has a light cream tone that makes it easy to read. Markings do show through a little, but not so bad that I want to stop marking in it. I’m not sure of the font size for the main Bible section. All of my font sizes for this Bible are guesses. I could be way off. I’m guessing the main text is around 8-point. It has a decent leading, so there’s plenty of space between the lines for underlining. The font is clean and sharp, and has the right amount of boldness for comfortable reading for long periods of time. The Jubilee is darker than the Dugan. This is a red-letter edition. The red in the Dugan is fairly dark and is easy to read. This is one of my favorite shades of red for red-letter Bibles. The red in the Jubilee is lighter and tends to fade. The fonts in the back sections are smaller, but they are all sharp and readable. There are 20 pages in the back to write on, but they’re regular thin pages. Ruled writing paper would have been sweet.

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Layout and Text

The text is King James (KJV). I’m not sure which edition it is, but it does have the British spellings. It is in double-column, verse-by-verse format. References are located on the outside and inside margins. The center of the page has two small columns that include page numbers to The Whole Bible by Subjects section. That’s the page number where that verse is location in the topical section.

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References and Notes

The references and notes are located on the outside and inside margins on each page. They are keyed to the text with the standard keys: letters for references and numbers for notes. I don’t know where I read this, but I read that it has 100,000 references. I’m not counting, but just comparing to other Bibles I can believe it. The notes include translation notes and comparisons to the RV.

Comprehensive Bible Helps

This section is a 124 page dictionary/encyclopedia with three columns per page. Information includes people, places, books, the Bible, harmony of the Gospels, and much more. It also includes a pronunciation guide of names and places. Mostly information you would expect to see in a Bible dictionary. I’m guessing the font size in this section is 6-point. It has a nice leading and is very readable.

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The Whole Bible by Subjects

This section, titled A Complete Analysis of the Holy Bible or The Whole Bible Arranged in Subjects, is by Roswell D. Hitchcock- President of Union Theological Seminary (1880-1887). This section is where every verse in the Bible is printed again- this time under specific topics. The Bible is arranged in 27 books, with each book broken up into many chapters. This is a wealth of topical study. I like to go to this section, choose a topic, and just start reading. Don’t get me wrong- it’s not perfect and I don’t agree with every topical choice, and verses don’t always fit into just one topic, but it’s a great start on a topical study. The text for this section is smaller than the text for the standard section. It is 685 pages. The font size might be 7-point. It also has a good amount of leading and is very readable.

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Topical Index

The topical index contains 32 pages and three columns per page. It includes all of the topics found in the Whole Bible Arranged in Subjects. Each topic includes a page number where that topic will appear in The Bible by Subjects section and the section number. I’m guessing the font is about a 5-point. It’s still surprisingly readable.

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Cruden’s Concordance

This is the best concordance I’ve ever seen in a Bible. It has every instance of every significant word (although my wife found one verse missing). It has four columns per page, has around a 5-point font, and it still very readable. No other concordance in a Bible even comes close. This is the only Bible I’ve ever seen that includes a 342 page concordance. If I could only have one of the tools in this Bible, the Cruden’s Concordance would be it.

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Thumb-index

My Dugan does not have thumb-index, while the Jubilee does. I’ve seen a Dugan with thumb-index and I suspect only the Jubilee had it.

Ribbons

My Jubilee has a ribbon and my Dugan does not. I’ve seen several Dugan’s and I’ve never seen one with a ribbon. I suspect the Dugan wasn’t available with a ribbon and that it was only available with some of the Jubilee editions (most likely the thumb-indexed model).

What I’d like to change or add

These are some features I would like to change or add. They are not in any particular order.

Maps

I would add maps. I don’t understand the removal of the maps from the Wilmore edition. This Bible already has almost 2200 pages. Eight to sixteen more pages wouldn’t make a difference.

Ribbons

I would add ribbons. The Jubilee only comes with one ribbon and the Dugan has none. I would add at least two, but preferably four or five. I’d like to have a ribbon for each major section.

Production

I would put it back into production. I’ve contacted several publishers trying to convince them to produce it, but there hasn’t been any interest so far. There are stripped-down versions on the market, but they’ve taken away what makes it useful. If I were to ever hit it rich, I would see to it that this Bible was produced again, but with these upgrades.

Where to Buy

This Bible is very rare. It’s been out of print for at least 20 years. The only place I’ve seen them is eBay (I did find my Pastor one at a Christian bookstore near Pigeon Forge, TN, but only one). Most go for well over $100. I have seen a few in bonded leather for around $75. Expect to pay $150+ for top-grain leather. I was just blessed with a Jubilee with a damaged bonded leather cover with thumb-index very cheap, so it is possible to find one at a good price. The key is to know what to look for, as not all sellers advertise its features so buyers don’t always know that it’s an Analytical Study Bible.

– Buyer Beware –

Not all analytical study Bibles have all of these tools. Most are stripped-down versions of the Dugan/Jubilee. The Subject Bible does not have the references, encyclopedia, or Cruden’s Concordance. The Crusade does not have the encyclopedia or the Cruden’s Concordance. The Dickson is a completely different Bible all together. Be sure of what you’re getting before you buy.

Conclusion

The Topical Reference Bible – Complete Analytical Study Edition has a fine set of study tools, making it the most useful study Bible I’ve ever used. Remove any one of these tools and this Bible would not be as useful, but all these tools combined make this an excellent study Bible. It is my favorite study Bible of all time. This is the Bible that I use as my answer to the ‘deserted island’ question. One could question its usefulness in an age when we can have better tools on our smartphones and people are carrying smaller Bibles. I use Bibles and dictionaries on my phone. Those are nice. They’re great study tools, but I still want a good set of tools in my Bible. Smart-phones are helpful, but I still want to flip through the pages of my Bible and read through the references, making Scripture connections on the page- rightly dividing the Word of God. I don’t want to rely on having my phone with me and hoping it has a good charge. I also don’t want people to wonder what I’m doing with my phone out in Church. Nothing will ever replace a good study Bible, and IMHO, a good study Bible will give you the tools you need to do your own study. This is where the Topical Reference Bible – Complete Analytical Study Edition shines above the rest. It’s an all-in-one Bible study library that allows Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Here’s a comparison to the regular size Thompson Chain Reference:

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18 Comments

  1. Ronda Albin /

    I have the Topical Refernce Bible, Complete Analytical Study Edition and I love it, its an awesome Bible. I also have a Thompson Chain and A Hebrew/Greek Key Word Study Bible. I love to spend time in my Bibles and study and meditate in the Word.

  2. I have the crusade edition. Back in “73″ I thought it too thick for classes and had it rebound. Now I realize that I got rid of valuable material. I hope to purchase one again.

    Your article is enlightening, very helpful. You have inspired hope. A suggestion? Maybe you can ask a question regarding the Printing matter here. http://www.orionpublishing.org; or harvesttime books.org.

    • Randy Brown /

      Thanks for your comments and links. I’ll check with them.

  3. Scott D. Crawford /

    I have the 1985 edition my mother bought me when I went to college. It has been my primary study Bible for low these many years. I think the original cost was < $30 but had it rebound several years ago at 4 times that price and considered it a bargain. I don't always agree with the topical inclusions, but I keep this Bible at my fingertips. As a piece of reference material it is invaluable.

  4. Tom Huntford /

    I had one of these years ago when I was young in the faith. THE BEST!!! Because it is just THE WORD OF GOD!!! I’m looking for a couple now, my wife is interested, and for a sister in the Lord who is hungry to learn God’s will.

    I LOVE THE WORD OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Jeff J. /

    I also have the jubilee version and love it!!! It was given to me for Christmas by my parents in 1996. I was 11 and grew up using it. By far the best bible I’ve got. I actually wrote Local Church Bible Publishers, and told them how much I appreciate the great work they do and the fantastic bibles they make. I also told them about the Jubilee Topical Reference bible and how much it meant to me growing up and asked them since they get permission to print other publishers bibles, if it were possible for them to get the rights to print the Jubilee again, because I think it would be such a help to so many people out there. When they emailed me back they told me that they already had the rights to print the Jubilee bible and that they would be doing it down the road, but they had some other projects they were working on. If more people email them to let them know how interested we are in the Jubilee maybe it will be the push to get started on it!!! Thanks for reading and God Bless.

    • Randy Brown /

      Hi Jeff. Thanks for the information. This is great news! I’ll bug them about this.

  6. I have a Dugan but it is a 1985 KJV ‘The Widsdom Bible’ – know anything about it?

    • Randy Brown /

      Hi Keith. I don’t remember that one. Is it a study Bible?

    • Hey – thanks – it is a Topical Reference Complete Analytical Study Edition. The color is burgundy in genuine bonded leather It contains four valuable aids to the student of the Word of God:

      1. The Holy Bible with marginal notes and analytical references

      2. Comprehensive Bible Helps in alphabetical order, edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D

      3. The Whole Bible By Subjects a complete analysis, edited by Roswell D. Hitchcock, D.D., LL.D. with alphabetical index

      4. Cruden’s Concordance edited by John Eadie, D.D., LL.D

      The very front of the Bible opens with a full color mug shot of Mike Murdock and his 101 Wisdom Principles.

    • Randy Brown /

      Hi Keith. It sounds cool. The Wisdom Principles adds even more features. Even better!

    • Cool, Randy – thanks for your input. Much appreciated.

  7. Edwina Hill /

    I owned one before… would love to get my hands on another one.

  8. A picture of Mike Murdock in a copy of the word of GOD? No thanks!
    1 Timothy 6:3-10
    http://youtu.be/L8xyHSSwy5w

  9. My father drove a semi-truck and was given a Dugan’s Topical Reference Bible (1985) at one of his stops (evidently at Dugan’s Publishing). They simply gave it to him, because the covering was bound both upside down and the front cover was on the back of the Bible and vise versa. I ended up with the Bible and had glanced at it a couple times, but didn’t realize that it was a Dugan’s and how comprehensive it is until reading your article above. I have been hoping to find a good study Bible…and now I have one. I will make a cover for the Bible, both to protect it and so people don’t think I’m reading a book upside down! Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about this study Bible.

  10. I bought 2 new Jubilee Topical Reference Bibles maybe 5 years ago from a pastor in Tennessee. I think his name is Larry Thompson. He had a website where he was selling Bibles. The Jubilee Bibles I purchased have the full set of features. While the Thompson Bible has many scriptures printed under the topical headings in the back of the Bible, the Jubilee has every scripture in the Bible printed in the back, each listed only once and under a specific topical heading. With a Thompson or other topical Bible you can quickly determine that a large number of passages belong under more than one topical heading. Consequently, since the Jubilee Bible lists each passage under only one topical heading, many, many topical headings do not include all the scriptures that could be listed under them. Even so, just to have the topics identified is a great help, and the topical index lists thousands of topics. Plus, the Jubilee Bible has more than 100,000 cross references. By checking a cross reference I might find that the cross reference is listed under a different topical analysis heading in the back of the Bible, so I might find another relevant topical heading by using the cross references. Regardless, that every scripture printed instead of just being cited by book, chapter, and verse is very handy. The cross-references in the Jubilee Bible are a full listing of an often used set of cross-references. I think that the AMG Bible that gives definitions of Greek and Hebrew words in the back of that Bible uses exactly the same, or nearly the same cross references. I have seen other Bibles with the same cross references. With Cruden’s concordance included with the Jubilee Bible’s other features, the Jubilee is a wonderful tool by which to experience the pleasure and joy of contemplating and discovering whatever the Lord Jesus has put on my heart to study and learn. While many Bibles from the quality of the leather, binding and print suggest the dignity of Bible study, I think the Jubilee Bible, by having several different methods of discovering meaning in Bible passages,offers the greatest sense of liberty in Bible study of any Bible that I have used. On a different topic, I want to add that the NKJV of the Thompson Bible has a very much fuller listing of scriptures than the KJV Thompson or any other Thompson. By much fuller I mean that where the KJV might have 12 references, the NKJV might have 70. I would choose the NKJV Thompson over the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Plus, sometimes the Thompson KJV has a scripture cited in the back section under a topic, but turning to that scripture in the Bible shows no listing of that topic beside the scripture. The NKJV Thompson remedied the misconnects that still exist in the other versions. Another great topical Bible is the Nave’s Study Bible. I bought 3 less than 2 years ago. Somebody was selling them new for $20 on Amazon. The Nave’s Study Bible is very much like the Thompson Bible. However, the topical categories with the scripture citations are placed throughout the Bible, not at the end of the Bible. A large number of the topical categories have subcategories, so the categories in the Nave’s Bible are thorough and refined. One last cross-reference Bible is the Monser Cross-reference Bible. This Bible was published only in the American Standard version. Unlike the Nave and Thompson Bibles, the Monser Bible has both cross references and topical categories. The categories of the Monser seem the least abstract, and the categories of the Thompson seem the most abstract. I think that the categories of the Thompson ultimately are a little confusing or jumbled. I like the categories of the Nave study Bible the best. The Nave study Bible is in the King James version, but includes a very large number of American Standard alternative readings along the sides. The Jubilee also has a large number of alternative readings, but does not attribute them to any other translation. I think for pleasurable and rewarding study, the Jubilee Bible and the Nave’s Study Bible used together is a great combination. To research a topic to it’s fullest, I would certainly use a Thompson NKJV. It has the greatest number of references and the most varied range of topical categories. But the Nave’s Study Bible has a topical clarity that I prefer for day to day study. The Jubilee offers great tools and a sense of liberty while studying, a liberty that makes studying a pleasure. If I had to go to that island, I am not sure which I would take, the Thompson NKJV, the Jubilee, or the Nave’s Study Bible. I think probably the Jubilee because, although it only lists each passage once, the topical index is still full of thousands of topics and with the cross references and Cruden’s concordance, I could research a very large number of topics quite thoroughly. The Monser Bible is quite rare. One of its features is very large quantities of alternative renderings from 19th century Biblical scholars. Not that a great number of passages have alternative readings, but that some passages have a large number of alternative readings. I do not care for that feature at all, since I know nothing of those scholars, and the alternative readings do not seem meaningfully different. Maybe I have not given that feature a chance or misunderstand it somehow, but nonetheless, I don’t care for it. As for the Monser topical categories, they are the most literal of the 4 topical Bibles I have mentioned, and the least useful to me. The Thompson Bible, particularly the NKJV, Nave’s Study Bible and the Jubilee Topical Reference Bible all have what I think are better categories of topical analysis.

    • Randy Brown /

      Hi Ed. I like the way you use the cross references to find other topics. That’s brilliant! I usually use more than one Bible when I’m using this one for study. I find the references in this Bible and I turn to them in another Bible. That way I don’t have to flip back and forth so much. I’m not 100% sure, but I think they’re from an old Cambridge edition. I’ve seen this exact layout in a Cambridge but without the page numbers in the center columns. I’ve wanted a NKJV Thompson for a while. I need to get one. Thanks for the information and tips.

      Randy

  11. craig brazil /

    I have a 1991 printing of the Dugan with all the helps included it has 2 ribbons…..and its new condition In box andfor sale if interested please email inquiries to bigunbrazil@yahoo.com

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