Zondervan KJV Compact Reference Bible – Review
The Zondervan Compact Reference KJV provides all the tools from a reference edition in a compact Bible that’s easy to carry. It’s designed for those that want portability without sacrificing tools. Of course this means reducing the size of the font, which can be good or bad depending of the design and materials. Let’s take a look and see how well it performs as a compact reference edition.
- 5 font
- Red letter
- Bonded leather
- Sewn binding
- 45,000 cross references
- Translators’ footnotes
- Head / Tail bands
- 7 maps
- 4 3/8 x 5 ¾ x 1 1/8
- ISBN: 9780310932109
Buy from Amazon: Zondervan Compact Reference KJV
The edition I’m reviewing is navy blue bonded leather with a snapping flap. It has a paste-down vinyl liner with a silver gilt line around the inside. It does lay open on its own in the middle but it will have to break in before it will lay open in Genesis. The flap is especially stiff but it will lay out of the way. The binding is sewn. It has a single long dark blue ribbon. The text on the spine is silver. The overall size is 4 3/8″ x 5 3/4″ x 1 1/8″. This is an excellent size for carry and reading.
The paper is thin (maybe upper 20’s in gsm) but it’s easy to turn and is highly opaque. It’s white in color. The opacity and color greatly improve the readability. It has a rough texture which I prefer. I didn’t have any issues grabbing and turning the pages. The edges have a silver gilt to match the silver text on the cover.
This is the typical KJV reference layout: double column, verse-by-verse, with center-column references.
The font is sharp and dark enough to stand out, which is helpful considering it’s a 5.5 font. The red letter is decently dark and both the red and black are consistent throughout. Even though it’s a small font it’s highly legible because of its sharpness, darkness, leading (space between the lines), and the opacity and color of the paper.
One detail that impressed me was the inner margin. The inner margin is larger than the outer margin which brings the text out of the gutter so it doesn’t get lost in the bend. Other compact editions don’t have much inner margin and their text can be harder to read.
It has italics for supplied words. There are no pronunciation marks. I’m glad pronunciation marks are not included. In my opinion they would be too difficult to read for a text this small. The text does include cross reference and footnote keys. Even at this size they’re not hard to see due to their boldness and sharpness.
Each verse is indented, making them easier to find at a glance. The verse numbers are the same size as the text. The header includes a page summary over the inner column, page number in the middle, and book name with chapter number over the outer column.
The columns are 1.25” wide and have around 30 characters across. The text never feels cramped. There are a few places where there are extra spaces in order to make the text fit on the line without having to use a hyphen. It isn’t bad but it is noticeable.
New books start on the page where the previous book left off. The front includes records pages: a presentation page, marriages, births, and deaths.
References and Footnotes
Cross references and footnotes appear in the center column. Those that correspond to the left column appear at the top while those that correspond to the right column appear at the bottom. The cross references are keyed to the text with letters. There are 45,000 of them, which is a good start for a decent study or sermon prep.
Here are some sample references:
- Genesis 1:1 – Jn 1:1-2; Heb 1:1; Ps 8:3; Is 44:24; Acts 17:24; Rev 4:11
- Matthew 17:20 – ch 21:21; Mk 11:23; Lk 17:6; 1 Cor 12:9, 13:2
- Mark 11:23 – Mt 17:20, 21:21; Lk 17:6
- John 1:1 – Pr 8:22; 1 Jn 1:1; Pr 8:30, ch 17:5; 1 Jn 5:7
- 1 John 1:1 – Jn 1:1, 14; 2 Pt 1:16; Lk 24:39; Jn 2:27
The footnotes are keyed to the text with numbers. They are the original translator’s footnotes. They include alternate renderings, literal words from the original languages, explanations, and more. I’m glad to see the footnotes included. The current trend is to move away from footnotes in the KJV and in reality they’re part of the translation and should at least be included in a reference edition.
There are 9 pages of lists of helps in the back. These are helpful for personal and group study, for looking up topics, and even for sermon and class prep.
The lists include:
- Prayers of the Bible
- Prophecies fulfilled in Christ
- The Parables of Jesus
- The Miracles of Jesus
- The Teachings of Jesus
- The Ministry of Jesus
There’s also a short article about the Bible. It discusses what it is, how it was written, and how it came to us.
The concordance is 50 pages. This is small but since it’s easier to look up words on a smartphone I don’t mind. The entries that are here are useful. Some of them include various forms of a word. When this is the case the alternate forms are given in parenthesis.
Here are a few example entries with the number of references given:
- Christ – 17
- Christian – 2
- Faith – 48
- Faithful – 14
- Faithfulness – 4
- God – 12
- Godhead – 2
- Godly – 1
- Godliness – 4
- Praise (praised) – 9
- Praises (praising) – 2
- Pray – 13
- Praying (prayed) – 3
- Prayer – 12
- Prayers – 2
There are 8 pages of maps (with 7 maps) on thick glossy paper. They cover distance, routes, topography, borders, cities, rivers, etc.
- World of the Patriarchs
- Exodus and Conquest of Canaan
- Land of the Twelve Tribes
- Kingdom of David and Solomon
- Jesus’ Ministry
- Paul’s Missionary Journey’s
- Jerusalem in Jesus’ Time
There isn’t an index but the maps are annotated and labeled well. They’re easy to use and they’re colorful.
Thoughts on Using It
Being a compact edition I found it easy to carry. The stiff cover doesn’t want to lay open at first, so it takes two hands to hold it for reading in Genesis until it breaks in. The text is small, so I don’t want to preach from it, but reading from it was easy as long as I didn’t come to it with tired eyes. The tools were good enough for general use and could even help with sermons and personal study.
Here’s a quick comparison with the ever-popular Holman compact edition. After using both I like the Zondervan as long as I can read the small font. The reasons include: sewn binding (Holman is glued), wider inner margin (Holman bends into the gutter), bolder and darker fonts (especially noticeable in the red text), better and a ribbon.
The Zondervan Compact Reference KJV provides a compact edition without sacrificing tools. Of course this means the text has be reduced to get it all to fit within a compact edition. The 5.5 font is small but readable due to the opaque paper, and the sharpness and boldness of the font. This small font isn’t for everyone, but if you can read it this is one of the best I’ve seen. It doesn’t feel like anything is missing from this reference Bible. If you’re looking for a compact KJV with references and can read small print then this is a great choice.
Photography by hannah C brown
Video review coming soon.
Zondervan provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review – only an honest review. My opinions are my own.