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NIV Comfort Print Thompson Chain Reference Bible Review Part 1

Zondervan’s new version of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is newly typeset with the NIV Comfort Print typeface designed by 2K/Denmark. Since there is so much to cover for Zondervan’s new TCR design, I’ll break the review up into several posts. This post is part one, which covers the design and features of the updated TCR. In other reviews, I’ll compare the sizes with each other and the originals, the cover options, and the Premier Collection. I’ll post links to each review as they’re posted. The Comfort Print TCR was typeset by 2K/Denmark and printed in China.

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.


This Bible is available from



Church Source    (available soon)


Table of Contents

    1. Video Review
    2. Typography
    3. References
    4. Book Introductions
    5. Comprehensive Bible Helps
    6. Concordance
    7. Maps
    8. Comparing with the Original
    9. Conclusion

Video Review

Table of Contents


The 2011 NIV text is presented in the standard NIV format with a double-column, paragraph layout, poetry set to stanzas, and letters indented. The Thompson chain reference system is placed in the outer margins next to the verses they correspond to. The NIV footnotes are placed in a single column in the footer. Across the top of the page are the book name, chapter, and verse numbers in red in the outer margin. Page numbers are in black in the center. Page summaries are in red in the inner margin. Section headings are in red. There are no lines dividing the text and chain references.

The font is the second generation NIV typeface designed by 2K/Denmark for Zondervan. In other words, the g and o are closed rather than having small openings. The print size for the handy size edition is 8-point, the regular edition is 9.5, and the large print edition is 10.5. These numbers are accurate. The black and red fonts are dark and sharp. All editions except for the Premier Collection are red-letter.

It has 6-7 words per line and extra space between the lines. The NIV text isn’t line-matched, which makes sense for the NIV. Line-matching for the NIV requires special licensing from Biblica, which is difficult to get. They require 1 1/2-spaces for dialog to set it apart. This specification was in place before line-matching existed for Bibles in modern printing. The poetic lines do have a lot of lines with a single word. Verse numbers match the color of the text they’re next to. Although they don’t stand out, they’re large enough to find quickly. The lack of lines dividing the text and references creates a cleaner page. It actually has more space than the original with lines.

The handy size has close to an inch of space at the bottom of the page. I’m sure it’s because of the cut paper size, but this is excellent for notes.

The Premier Collection is black letter. This paper has less show-through, as we see in the image above.

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The 100,000 chain references are placed in the margins next to the verses they correspond to. They still work the same as before, but the topic name is now printed first and the number is in red. Triangles indicate the beginning of a chain and squares indicate the end of a chain. It includes parallel passages. All the chains found in the back are completed, so they’re also found in the margins. They’re justified to the text rather than the margins. This points the focus on the text.

Here are a few examples of the margins (the complete list of each topic is found in the Numerical Index in the back). For those where the chain ends in the verses I’m giving I’ve included the topic number.

  • 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 – One God 32:39
  • Isaiah 9:6 – Births Foretold Mt 1:21; Incarnation 11:1; Christ’s Dominion 9:7; Christ’s Wisdom 3838
  • Mark 12:29 – The Great Commandment Mt 22:36; Listen and Understand 1185; One God 1 Co 8:4
  • John 1:1 –  Christ, Eternal 8:58; Christ, “The Word” 1:14; Christ’s Names3632; Christ, Divine 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 1 Cor 15:4; Salvation 1 Cor 1:21
  • 1 John 1:1 – p.p. Lk 24:39; Experience 2030; Witnesses 3855a; Christ the Word Rev 19:13

Table of Contents

Book Introductions

The Book Analysis has been moved to the front of each book to create a book introduction. The few lines of introduction that used to be at the beginning of the book have been combined with the introduction. It covers the author, date written, to whom it was written, main theme, key words, key verse, synopsis (a detailed outline), prominent people, and major themes. The list of major chains is new.

I like that the analysis is now an introduction at the beginning of each book. This is the best location for easy access. Many TCR users never knew this material existed because it was in the back and out of the way. It’s now easier to use as an introduction because of the new material and the way it’s formatted.

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Comprehensive Bible Helps

The Comprehensive Helps has been re-typeset and updated. They still include the same information, but they have new graphics and charts, and they’ve been completed, so every table, chart, and maps now have a topical number. The old images have been removed. the Archaeological Supplement has been removed. It was outdated and the least-used featured based on user poles. The topic numbers for the Archaeological Supplement have been assigned to charts and maps that were not numbered before.

Alphabetical Index of Topics – this is the index that you’d use to look up any topic. It provides you with the topic numbers to find 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 with every topical chain. It has the topic names, main verses printed in full and their references printed in red, and suggested topics. It’s printed with three columns per page. The topic numbers and prominent verse numbers are printed in red. Topic names are 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 in red.

Periods of Biblical History – this is a table that shows the date with OT history and secular history. The tables have a modern design with red titles, alternating gray backgrounds, and red backgrounds for the major titles.

Bible Character Studies – these cover the prominent biblical characters and include maps and outlines. They now have new drawings and maps. Like the other tools, it includes red titles.

Prominent Characters Classified – this is an outline of the prominent men and women in the Bible. It gives the names with a short description and topic number. This list is provided in outline form with the titles and topic numbers in red.

Outline History of the Apostles – this is a table with the names and information about every apostle.

Messianic Prophecies and Their Fulfillment – this is a table with the prophecies, summary, and fulfillment of each Messianic prophecy. Summaries are in red. The backgrounds alternate in different shades of gray.

Bible Harmonies and Illustrated Studies – this is a section with lie overviews, maps, and outlines of Moses, Jesus, and Paul. It has all-new maps, tables, charts, and graphics. The maps are gray with red highlights. The original had photos of paintings. These have been removed.

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It has a 58-page NIV concordance with 2474 word entries and over 10,000 Scripture references. It includes names with biographical information. This is about a medium size concordance. It’s good for Bible study and sermon prep.

Here are some sample entries with their number of references.

  • Christ (Christ’s, Christian, Messiah) – 69
  • Christian (Christ) – 1
  • Christ’s (Christ) – 3
  • Faith (Faithful, Faithfully, Faithfulness, Faithless) – 65
  • Faithful (Faith) – 31
  • Faithfully (Faith) – 3
  • Faithfulness (Faith) – 15
  • Faithless (Faith) – 3
  • God (God’s, Godliness, Godly, Gods) – 4 columns
  • God-breathed (Breathed) – 1
  • Godliness (God) – 4
  • Godly (God) – 4
  • God’s (God) – 28
  • Gods (God) – 2
  • Jesus – 5 major topics with multiple sub-topics and many Scripture passages and reference within each one
    • Life
    • Miracles
    • Major Teaching
    • Parables
    • Disciples
  • Praise (Praised, Praises, Praising) – 32
  • Praised (Praise) – 5
  • Praises (Praise) – 4
  • Praising (Praise) – 2
  • Pray (Prayed, Prayer, Prayers, Praying) – 17
  • Prayed (Pray) – 3
  • Prayer (Pray) – 13
  • Prayers (Pray) – 4
  • Praying (Pray) – 4

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The Kirkbride maps have been replaced with 13 Zondervan maps. They’re printed on thick, semi-glossy paper. The maps 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.

It also includes a large index to maps with 6 divisions.

Maps include:

  1. Archaeological Sites in Ancient Israel
  2. Archaeological Sites in the Bible Lands
  3. World of the Patriarchs
  4. Exodus and Conquest of Canaan
  5. Land of the Twelve Tribes
  6. Kingdom of David and Solomon
  7. Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
  8. Assyrian and Babylonian Empires
  9. Holy Land in the Time of Jesus
  10. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus
  11. Paul’s Missionary Journeys
  12. Roman Empire
  13. Apostle’s Early Travels

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Comparing with the Original

Here’s a look at how the updated NIV Thompson compares to the original from Kirkbride. The Kirkbride looked great and was functional. They made improvements with each translation. The illustrations use an older art style. The font was 8-point and it was a lighter weight. The tools are mostly the same, but the update has renumbered some of the things in the back.

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Zondervan’s updated version of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is an excellent update to the original. It’s still the same TCR we’re used to, but the updates make it look and feel modern. The chains and indexes have been improved. Now, everything that was in the indexes is in the margins and everything that was in the margins is in the indexes. The larger font is much easier to read. I’m looking forward to seeing the Comfort Print TCR in all translations.

Table of Contents


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.

About The Author

Randy A Brown

WordPress writer by day, Bible reviewer by night, pastor all the time. And there's also that author thing.


  1. Jim Childers

    This will be a better balanced book than the NKJV Thompson. About 40% of its pages are behind Revelation 22. I have an NIV Heritage Bible with Comfort Print, which is great. Thank you for the reviews.

  2. Alexander ThomsOn

    I ordered a copy on 22nd April here in the UK, to be delivered today. Amazon has emailed me to say that there is a delay – no reason given. Any information, anyone? Not enough copies printed?

    • Alexander Thomson

      Still no Bible, and no word from Amazon UK, and no way to contact Amazon. “The customer is always…no, never…correct.”

  3. tED

    Seems to me that having the page summaries, section headings AND the words of Christ all in red letters is just too much red.

  4. Alexander thomson

    Amazon UK has just emailed me to say that they can’t get this Bible, and so will refund payment! Amazon US has processed my replacement order! Not joined-up thinking at Amazon!

  5. Alexander thomson

    Randy, My copy has arrived but a few hours ago from Amazon US! Well done, Yanks! Rereading your review and quickly comparing it with, and browsing through, the volume, my distinct impression is that it is a definite excellent improvement of an already excellent Bible! The last updated TCR that I bought – and I bought both on your recommendation! – was the ESV TCR 2016, and I have greatly enjoyed using it! My first impression is that the NIV TCR 2022 may be even better; but I should be interested to have your opinion. Of course, we have both – and there is merit in that, as serious individuals and groups can profit from both. The removal of the archaeological supplements was sensible, perhaps even necessary : the field (so to speak!) is ever-changing and is better known through regular bulletins, looseleaf updates, etc. Do you know of and can you recommend any such? Thanks again for your (and your wife’s) encouraging work in the reviews : be assured that more do read, rather than comment, on them – readers are such a lazy lot!

    • Randy A Brown

      Thanks Alexander! I think there are a few good pamphlets from Rose Publishing if I remember correctly.

  6. Alexander Thomson

    Randy, Thanks! I’ll check!

  7. Rev Jan Michael Nace

    I agree that this is a stunning update print wise and graphics were long overdue for an update. I began in the 60s with a KJV Thompson Chain Bible and for years as time went on felt it needed upgrading. Book intros are a bit small print as are the chain refs in the margins but with diligence this Bible has potential to be a source of enjoyment.


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