Nelson KJV Study Bible 2nd Edition – Review
The Thomas Nelson KJV Study Bible has been around for over 25 years and is one of the best-selling study Bibles on the market. The second edition adds some features including a new page design, revised charts and maps, an 11-point font, an enhanced concordance that includes Hebrew and Greek definitions and Strong’s numbers, and several topical indexes.
Construction and Layout
This is a hard cover edition that is glued. It comes with a removable book cover. Under the cover is a dark red with gold lettering. The paper is really nice. It’s very opaque with not much show-through at all. I haven’t tried, but I don’t think there would be any issues with highlighting. It does have a slight shine in certain lighting that can make it difficult to read.
The font is large at 11-point with around a 12-point leading. This is one of the darkest and best fonts I’ve seen in a study Bible. This is a red-letter edition. The red is also dark. This is a nice shade of red for red-letter. The print quality is among the best I’ve seen in a study Bible. There is some slight variation in the red lettering, but it’s not bad at all.
The fonts for the notes are smaller, but just as bold. I’m guessing them to be 7-point. Section headings are in a bolder print and in italics. Verse numbers are printed just as dark as the section headings. Chapter numbers are in a two-line drop-cap and are dark red. I love this.
I like the design of this Bible. The font is my favorite of any study Bible. I would love to have this as a reference Bible – without any of the study notes but with the section headings left in.
References and Translation Notes
References and translators footnotes are placed in the center column. There are lots of references. Genesis 1:1 has 16. John 1:1 has 8. Matthew 17:20 contains 4, and they reference the topic rather than the word, making them much more useful in my opinion.
The book introductions take 1-2 pages and include various detailed information about the book, author, historical setting, date of writing, occasion, purpose, recipients, theme, an outline, and more. Not every book has the same information. They discuss Hebrew and Greek words, the cultural setting, and some theological issues. There isn’t a lot of theological bias, but there is some.
The commentary covers the major verses and points and includes Scripture references, Greek and Hebrew word studies, theological commentary, explanations about the literal meaning of text (for example, Very, verily means amen, amen), information about customs and cultures, etc. As expected there is a lot of theological bias.
There are footnote articles that appear on many pages. They include doctrinal information, personality profiles, and archaeological sites. The footnotes are very detailed an informative. The doctrinal notes (labeled with a drawing of a key) include the key passage, an illustration, and an application. The personality profiles (labeled with a drawing of a person) give a quick biography of the person, some interesting facts about them, and other references about them. The archaeological sites (labeled with a drawing of a shovel) discuss a place and interesting facts about it. It gives other names that it was known by, other references in the Bible, some key people to know about, etc. I found the personality profiles and archaeological site to be the most interesting and informative.
Maps are placed throughout the commentary with labels and annotations. For example, Jesus’ visit to Jerusalem in John 3 shows a map that contains Galilee, Samaria, and Juda, and is annotated with where Jesus was, what the events were, and the Scriptures that correspond to it.
- Topical Index to Christ and the Gospels
- Teachings and Illustrations of Christ
- Parables of Christ
- Miracles of Christ
- Prophecies of the Messiah Fulfilled in Christ
- Topical Index to Paul and His Letters
- Topical Index to End Times Prophecy
- Monies, Weights, and Measures
- The Jewish Calendar
- Prayers of the Bible
- Index to Annotations
- 196 page Concordance with Word Studies (Strong’s numbers and definitions)
- 8 pages of annotated color maps
There is a lot of good material in the back for study. Most of it is lists of Scripture references, so there isn’t a lot of theological commentary. I especially like the topical indexes and the concordance containing Strong’s numbers and definitions. There aren’t a ton of definitions, but every word has a Strong’s number.
In the front is a good article on how to study the Bible and a list of Scriptures about God’s answers to our concerns. With that article and the rest of the study material, there is a lot of information to help in personal and group study as well as sermon and class prep. Just keep in mind that all commentary in fallible and contains theological bias. I recommend that you do your own study.
I love the font and print quality of this Bible. I want it in a regular reference edition (with a calfskin cover). Like all study Bibles with commentary, do your own study and only use the commentary as a guideline. Keep in mind that commentary is fallible. I especially like the non-biased personality studies and archaeological information. These, combined with the references and translation notes, the concordance with Strong’s numbers, and the topical lists make it a good study Bible for personal and group studies, as well as sermon and classroom prep.
Thomas Nelson provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review – only an honest review. My opinions are my own.
Worst, one-sided, error-filled study notes I’ve ever seen in a study bible. I agree with BibleBuyingGuide, I would buy this if it came WITHOUT the commentary. I would also rather it had the KJV marginal footnotes and not Nelson’s modified footnotes telling me what whe NKJV says. I already have a NKJV.
I purchased this Bible shortly after it was released and didn’t keep it very long. I love the layout of the Nelson Study Bibles, but the commentaries leave little to no room for disagreement. I could be wrong, but I also had the first edition and they didn’t seem as forceful to me with their views as they were in this second edition. I also preferred to the layout of the first edition. However, with all my negativity I would like to add I love the margins, I think they are perfect in this Bible. The references are very helpful. The historical and archaeological notes are outstanding. Excellent review.
Great review! I have this Bible and it is everything you said. Thanks for the excellent comments.
I purchased this bible to have a KJV and as time has gone on it’s design and content show the amount of time spent in it’s publication prep. I have grown in appreciation and consider it an an important tool for my study of God’s Word. My only concerns are there is no genuine leather option and the glued binding has already begun to split at the block and cover. I know it has a lifetime guarantee and can be replaced but then I lose my notes and comments my returning it.
Hi Paul. Thanks for sharing. Hopefully this will help Nelson understand it needs to be sewn.
Thank you so much for your amazing reviews – it’s incredibly helpful to be able to “look inside” a bible before purchasing it! Personally, I am currently looking for a very feature-rich KJV Study Bible. I own a Thompson Chain Reference bible already and would now love to have some decent amount of great commentary. May I ask you whether you would recommend the Nelson, the Holman or another KJV Study Bible?
Thank you a million in advance for your help and God bless you,
Hi Steven. Thanks for the kind words! I like both of those choices. The Holman has commentary from more points of view than the Nelson, but the Nelson has more topical lists and word studies. Both have their advantages. I’m not sure I could choose between them. I’ll try to do a comparison soon.