Zondervan just released the updated KJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible. This edition is typeset with the KJV Comfort Print typeface designed by 2K/Denmark. It’s available in several sizes and cover options. In this review, I’ll look at the new Zondervan KJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible in all three sizes and look at imitation leather, bonded leather, calfskin, and cowhide. I’ll also compare it to the original KJV TCR and the new Premier Collection TCR. All editions were printed in China.
Zondervan provided this Bible in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.
This Bible is available from
Church Source (available soon)
Table of Contents
Sizes and Covers
All editions are sewn. All editions except the Premier Collection have 30gsm paper. The Premier Collection has 36gsm premium European paper. The overall sizes and weights will vary slightly based on the cover material. The cowhide, calfskin, and goatskin editions have art-gilt page edges.
Here are the sizes and weights for my review copies:
- Handy size (available in black bonded leather and burgundy Leathersoft, with and without thumb index) – 5 5/8 x 8 7/8 x 1 5/8″, it weighs 2 lbs, 4.4 oz. The font is 8-point.
- Standard size (available in hardcover, black bonded leather, black or burgundy Leathersoft, and buffalo leather with and without thumb index, and the Premier Collection with edge-lined goatskin) – 6 7/8 x 9 7/8 x 1 7/8″, it weighs 3 lbs. The font is 9.5-point
- Premier Collection (edge-lined goatskin) – 7 x 9 3/4 x 1 3/4″, it weighs 3 lbs, 11 oz.
- Large print (available in bonded leather, brown Leathersoft, and black cowhide with and without thumb index) – 7 1/2 x 10 7/8 x 1 5/8, it weighs 3 lbs, 11 oz. The font is 10.5-point.
My Leathersoft edition is burgundy. It looks like real leather with its texture and color variation. The front has a cross and a border printed in gold. It includes perimeter stitching. The spine has a gold block design with horizontal printing. The liner is brown paste-down vinyl. It has two 3/8″, double-sided, satin ribbons; burgundy for the OT and gold for the NT.
The Handy Size I chose is bonded leather. It is black and has a texture that looks like genuine leather. It’s a touch stiff, but it stays open in the middle of Genesis with no trouble. This one has a paste-down vinyl liner, perimeter stitching, and gold printing on the spine. It includes one gold and one black ribbon. I opted for the thumb index version to show how it looks.
Genuine Leather – Calfskin
The genuine leather for the regular edition is brown calfskin. It has a pebbly grain. The spine has a block design and 4 raised hubs. It has perimeter stitching, an edge-lined leather liner, a gilt line around the liner, and two ribbons (one brown and one gold). The leather is thin, but it still feels durable. It has art-gilt page edges.
Genuine Leather – Cowhide
The genuine leather for the large print edition is black cowhide. The grain is pebbly but slightly smoother than the calfskin. The front has no printing. It includes perimeter stitching. The spine has 4 thick raised hubs and gold blocks. It’s edge-lined with leather. The liner includes a gold gilt line around the inside perimeter. The leather is thin like the calfskin, but it feels durable. It has two ribbons- black for the Old Testament and gold for the New Testament. It has art-gilt page edges.
The goatskin is a thick leather with a pebbly grain. It has a 1/2″ yapp and includes perimeter stitching. The front is clear of any printed or stamping. The spine has 5 thick raised hubs and text printed in gold. The liner is edge-lined leather with a gold gilt line around the inside perimeter. The text block is sewn and it has overcast stitching. It has three ribbons: black, red, and gold. It has art-gilt page edges.
The paper is a 30GSM Bible paper (except for the goatskin, which is 36gsm). It’s white in color and the text is rough enough to grab and separate. It does have a touch more show-through than I’d like, but it’s mostly noticeable where there’s nothing printed on one side of the page.
The KJV text is presented in a double-column, verse-by-verse layout with no formatting for the text to indicate poetry, letters, or quotes. Thompson’s chain references are printed in the outer margins next to the verses they correspond to. The header includes the book name, chapter, and verse numbers in red in the outer margin, page numbers in black in the center, and page summaries in red in the inner margin. Section headings are in red and they’re all-caps. There are no lines dividing the text or chain references. It does not include the KJV translator’s footnotes. Paragraphs are marked with bold verse numbers in red.
The font is the KJV typeface designed by 2K/Denmark for HarperCollins KJVs. The print size is 8-point red-letter for Handy size, 9.5-point red-letter for the regular size, 10.5-point red letter for the large print, and 9.5 black-letter for the Premier Collection. It has around 6-7 words per line on average with extra space between the lines and the text. The text is dark and large, making it easy to read, study, and preach from. It was printed with line-matching, meaning the lines of text are printed in the same location on both sides of the page. This reduces show-through and it looks great. Supplied words are in italics. There is extra space between the verse numbers and the text, making it easy to locate the verses. The lack of dividing lines between the text and references makes a cleaner page and it has more space than the original with the lines.
KJV Thompson Chain References
The 100,000 chain references are placed in the margins next to their verses. They work the same as the previous edition, but the topic name is now printed first and the topic number is printed in red. The footnotes and the RV renderings have been removed, but it includes parallel passages. Triangles show the start of a chain and squares show the end of a chain. All the chains found in the back are completed, so they’ve all been added to the margins. They’re justified to the text rather than the margins to bring the focus to the text. I would like to see the footnotes added back. The font is 6-point serif.
Chain Reference Examples
Here are a few examples of the margins of specific verses. The complete list of each topic is found in the Numerical Index. Some of the words, like Harken, are specific to the KJV. Those topics are also found in the NIV, but using words from the NIV.
- Genesis 1:1 – p.p Jn 1:3; Heb 1:10; Family Bible Readings 3:1-6; Creator 2:3; Heavens (1) Chr 16:26
- Deuteronomy 6:4 – Harken 1185; One God 32:39
- Isaiah 9:6 – Births Foretold Mt 1:21; Incarnation 11:1; Christ’s Dominion 9:7; Christ’s Wisdom 3838; Christ Divine Lk 22:69; Christ’s Names 3632; Wonderful Name Lk 1:31; Prince of Peace 2865; Peace 3014
- Mark 12:29 – The Great Commandment Mt 22:36; Harken 1185; One God 1 Co 8:4
- John 1:1 – Christ Eternal 8:58; Christ The Word 1:14; Christ’s Names 3632; Christ Divine (2) Rom 1:4; Christ Eternal 709
- Acts 2:38 – pp Rom 6:4; Promises to Penitent 3:19; Repentance (2) 2707; Repentance (3) 2708; Baptism Directed 10:48; Wonderful Name 2516; Remission of Sin Rom 3:25; Spirit Promised 1603
- Romans 10:9 – Confess Christ Phil 2:11; Christ, Lord 1 Cor 1:9; Faith (2) Tim 3:15; Resurrection (8) 1 Cor 15:4; Salvation (3) 1 Cor 1:21
- 1 John 1:1 – p.p. Lk 24:39; Experience (2) 2030; Witnesses (2) 3855a; Christ the Word Rev 19:13
KJV Thompson Book Introductions
The Book Analysis has now been moved to the beginning of each book to create a book introduction. It includes the short introduction that used to be at the top of the first page of each book. Book introductions include the author, date written, purpose, to whom it was written, main theme, key word, key verses, synopsis, prominent people, and major themes in that book. The list of major chains was added by Zondervan. This works well as a book introduction. It’s easier to access than the Book Analysis because it’s there where you need it.
KJV Thompson Comprehensive Bible Helps
The Comprehensive Helps has been improved. The information is the same, but they’ve been completed and have new illustrations and charts. Some content, such as the Archaeological Supplement and Portraits of Christ, has been removed. The topic numbers for the Archaeological Supplement have been assigned to charts and maps that were not numbered before, so now every table, chart, and map has a topical number. The typeface is 6-point sans-serif.
Alphabetical Index of Topics
This is the index to look up any topic alphabetically. It includes the topic numbers to find the topics in the other resources. It’s printed in three columns per page with the topic number in red. Sub-topics are indented.
Numerical Index of Topics
This is the main index that includes every topical chain. It includes the topic names, primary verses printed in full and their references printed in red, and a list of suggested topics for most of the topics. It’s printed with three columns per page with the topic numbers and prominent verse numbers printed in red. Topic names are printed in bold.
Condensed Outline of the Bible
This is a short description of each book of the Bible. Books are identified according to their genre. Book names and their topic numbers are printed in red.
Periods of Biblical History
This table shows the date along with Old Testament and secular history. They have a modern design with red titles, stripped gray backgrounds, and red backgrounds for the major titles.
Bible Character Studies
This covers the prominent biblical characters and includes maps and outlines. They also have new drawings and maps.
Prominent Characters Classified
This is an outline of the prominent men and women in the Bible. It provides their names with a short description and includes a topic number for each.
Outline History of the Apostles
This table gives the names with information about each of the apostles.
Messianic Prophecies and Their Fulfillment
This table shows the prophecies, a summary, and the fulfillment of each Messianic prophecy. The summaries are in red while the backgrounds are stripped in gray.
Bible Harmonies and Illustrated Studies
This is a section with life overviews, maps, and outlines of Moses, Jesus, and Paul. It includes new maps, tables, charts, and illustrations. The maps are gray with red highlights. The small portraits of Jesus from the Kirkbride edition have been removed.
It has a 60-page KJV concordance with three columns per page. Unlike the NIV TCR concordance, it includes very few proper names and does not include biographical information. It shows the part of speech and lists the entries separately for words with more than one part of speech. It’s a medium size concordance that’s good for basic Bible study and sermon prep.
Here are some sample entries with their number of references.
- Christ – 18
- Christian – 3
- Faith – 96
- Faithful – 41
- Faithfully – 1
- Faithfulness – 6
- Faithless – 3
- God – 56
- Godhead – 3
- Godliness – 12
- Godly – 11
- Jesus – 3
- Praise (n) – 32
- Praise (v) – 15
- Pray – 38
- Prayer – 36
The Kirkbride maps have been replaced with 13 Zondervan maps printed on thick, semi-glossy paper. They include topography, elevation, distance, routes, borders, possible locations of lost places, battles, cities, cities of refuge, empires with dates, locations of events of prophets, locations for the events of Jesus’ ministry, and locations for the events of the apostles and missionaries.
- Archaeological Sites in Ancient Israel
- Archaeological Sites in the Bible Lands
- World of the Patriarchs
- Exodus and Conquest of Canaan
- Land of the Twelve Tribes
- Kingdom of David and Solomon
- Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
- Assyrian and Babylonian Empires
- Holy Land in the Time of Jesus
- Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus
- Paul’s Missionary Journeys
- Roman Empire
- Apostle’s Early Travels
It also includes a Color Map Index with 6 divisions. They’re in alphabetical order within the divisions and include the map number and the grid location on the map. The divisions include:
- Archaeological Sites in the Holy Land and the Bible Lands
- Biblical Names of cities, Towns, and Villages
- Cultural Features: Regions, Tribal Names, Places, and Countries
- Points of Interest in Jerusalem
- Land Features: Mountains, Hills, Valleys, Islands, Desserts, and Wildernesses
- Water Features: Oceans, Seas, Lakes, Rivers, Brooks, Springs, and Wadis
Large Print and Regular Size
Handy Size and Regular Size
Large Print and Kirkbride
Handy Size and Kirkbride
Regular Size and Kirkbride
Regular Size and Premier Collection
Conclusion on the KJV Thompson
Zondervan’s updated version of the KJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible is a well-designed update to one of the best study Bibles available. The updates complete the chains and indexes, making it the best and most useful KJV TCR available. It’s available in several sizes and cover options. If you’re interested in a well-designed version of the KJV Study Bible, the Zondervan KJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible in Comfort Print is easy to recommend.
This Bible is available from
Church Source (available soon)
Zondervan provided these Bibles in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.