Zondervan just released the updated NKJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible. It’s typeset with the Comfort Print typeface designed specifically for the NKJV by 2K/Denmark. It’s available in several sizes and cover options. In this review, I’ll look at the new Zondervan NKJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible in all three sizes and look at imitation leather, calfskin, and goatskin. I’ll also compare it to the original NKJV TCR. The regular editions were printed in South Korea, and the Premier Collection was 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.


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Table of Contents

    1. Video Review
    2. Sizes and Covers
    3. Paper
    4. Typography
    5. References
    6. Book Introductions
    7. Comprehensive Bible Helps
    8. Concordance
    9. Table of Weights, Measures, and Monies
    10. Maps
    11. Comparisons
    12. Conclusion

Video Reviews

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Sizes and Covers

Here’s a look at each of the sizes and the covers available. The overall sizes and weights will vary slightly based on the cover material. The regular editions have paste-down vinyl liners and gold-gilt edges, and the goatskin has an edge-lined leather liner with art-gilt edges.

All editions are sewn and have overcast stitching in the front and back.

Handy Size

The handy size is available in navy Leathersoft, with and without a thumb index. The blue is bold and has some color variation. The texture is smooth with just enough grain to look elegant. The front has a gold icon. It includes perimeter stitching. The spine has a gold block design with horizontal printing. The liner is blue paste-down vinyl. It has two 3/8″, double-sided, satin ribbons; gold for the OT and blue for the NT. The overall size is 5 5/8 x 8 7/8 x 1 3/4″, and it weighs 2 lbs, 6 oz.

Standard Size

The standard size is available in hardcover, brown Leathersoft, and burgundy calfskin with and without thumb index. I’m reviewing the burgundy calfskin. It has a pebbly grain with perimeter stitching. Nothing is printed on the front. The spine has a block design and 4 raised hubs. It has a burgundy paste-down vinyl liner, a gilt line around the liner, and two ribbons (one gold and one burgundy). It has gold page edges. The overall size is 7 x 9 7/8 x 1 3/4″, and it weighs 3 lbs, 3 oz.

Large Print

The large print is available in brown Leathersoft with and without a thumb index. It looks like real leather with its texture and color variation. The front has an icon 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 overall size is 7 1/2 x 10 5/8 x 1 3/4″, and it weighs 3 lbs, 12 oz.

Premier Collection

The Premier Collection is black edge-lined goatskin. The goatskin is a thick leather with a pebbly grain. It has a 1/2″ yapp and includes perimeter stitching. The front has no printing. The spine has 5 thick raised hubs and small text printed in gold. The liner is edge-lined leather with a gold gilt line. It has three ribbons: black, red, and gold. It has art-gilt page edges. The overall size is 7 1/8 x 10 3/8 x 2″, and it weighs 3 lbs, 13.6 oz.

Thumb Index

The thumb-index tabs have 4 books per tab for most books. Those with multiple books are combined as a single book. It also includes a tab for the helps and maps. I’d like to see a few more tabs with fewer books per tab and maybe even more tabs for the tools in the back.

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The paper matches the other Comfort Print TCRs.

Regular Editions

The paper for the regular editions is a 30GSM Bible paper. It’s white in color with a slightly red tint that’s just noticeable in the gutter. The texture is rough enough to grab and separate. It does have a touch more show-through than I’d like, but it’s mostly noticeable in the poetic settings.

Premier Collection

The paper for the Premier Collection is a 36GSM premium European Bible paper. This is the same paper used in all the other Bibles in the Premier Collection. It has a slightly off-white color and it’s highly opaque. It has a smooth texture that’s just rough enough to grab the pages between your fingers to turn easily. This paper is excellent for reading for long periods of time. The page edges are red under gold art gilt.

Note Pages

There are a few pages in the back for notes. This is the regular Bible paper. so 30gsm for all editions except the Premier Collection, which is 36gsm.

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The NKJV text is presented in a double-column, verse-by-verse layout with poetry set to stanzas, and personal letters indented. The chain references are printed in the outer margins next to their verses. The header shows 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 in all caps. The NKJV translation footnotes are placed across the bottom of the page. Paragraphs are marked with red bold verse numbers.

The typeface is the NKJV typeface designed by 2K/Denmark for HarperCollins NKJVs. The Handy Size font is 8-point, while the standard size font is 9.5-point, and the large print font is 10.5-point. All editions are red-letter with the exception of the Premer Collection, which is black-letter. The text is dark and large, making it easy to read, study, and preach from. It was printed with line-matching, so the lines of text are printed in the same location on both sides of the page to reduce show-through.

It has around 5-7 words per line on average with extra space between the lines and the text. Poetry is divided into good places, so it looks great on the page. Supplied words are in italics. There is extra space between the verse numbers and the text, making it easy to locate the verses.

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NKJV Thompson Chain References

The footnotes are the reduced set that’s used in the original Kirkbride edition. These are the footnotes that are used in many reference editions of the NKJV. They span all four columns (unlike the Kirkbride edition, which spanned the two center columns). They include parallel passages, manuscript variations, references for quotes, Greek and Hebrew words, alternate renderings, etc.

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. Triangles indicate the beginning of a chain and squares indicate 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. The font is a serif that’s a couple of points smaller than the text.

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 are specific to the NKJV.

  • 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 – Listen and Understand 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; Listen and Understand 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
  • 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
  • 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; Universal Opportunity
  • 1 John 1:1 – p.p. Lk 24:39; Experience (2) 2030; Witnesses (2) 3855a; Christ the Word Rev 19:13

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NKJV Thompson Book Introductions

The Book Analysis has now been moved to the beginning of each book for the book introduction. It includes the short introduction that was originally placed at the top of the first page of each book. The introductions show topical information about the author, date written, purpose, to whom it was written, main theme, key words, key verse, a detailed synopsis (outline), prominent people, and major chains in that book. The list of major chains is new for the Comfort Print editions. This works well as a book introduction and it’s easier to access than it was in the back.

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NKJV Thompson Comprehensive Bible Helps

Like the NIV and KJV Comfort Print TCRs, the Comprehensive Helps has been improved. The information is the same, but they’ve been completed. The illustrations and charts have been updated. 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. This means that every table, chart, and map now has a topical number. Here’s a look at some of the major tools.

Alphabetical Index of Topics

This is the index to find any topic alphabetically. It includes the topic numbers so you can 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. It includes every topical chain and has 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 in red. Topic names are bold.

Condensed Outline of the Bible

This provides a short description of each book of the Bible. The books are identified according to their genre. The names and topic numbers are printed in red.

Periods of Biblical History

This is a table that shows the dates with Old Testament and secular history. They have red titles, striped gray backgrounds, and red backgrounds for the major titles.

Bible Character Studies

This includes the prominent biblical characters with maps and outlines. They also have new drawings and maps.

Prominent Characters Classified

This is an outline of all the prominent men and women in the Bible. It includes their names with a short description and a topic number for each person.

Outline History of the Apostles


This table provides the names of each of the apostles with information about them.

Messianic Prophecies and Their Fulfillment

This is a table that shows the prophecies, a summary, and the fulfillment of each Messianic prophecy. The summaries are in red and the backgrounds are striped in gray.

Bible Harmonies and Illustrated Studies

This includes life overviews, maps, and outlines of Moses, Jesus, and Paul. It has new maps, tables, charts, and illustrations. The maps are gray with red highlights. The portraits of Jesus from the Kirkbride edition have been removed.

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The concordance is 68 pages and it has 3 columns per page. This is the same concordance used in the NKJV Sovereign from Thomas Nelson. The entries are in red. This is about a medium-sized concordance which is enough entries for basic study. It’s not ideal for extensive study or sermon prep.

Here are some example entries and the number of references they provide:

  • Christ – 13
  • Christian – 1
  • Christians – 1
  • Christs – 1
  • Faith – 40
  • Faithful – 20
  • Faithfulness – 5
  • Faithless – 2
  • God – 38
  • Goddess – 2
  • Godhead – 2
  • Godliness – 4
  • Godly – 3
  • Gods – 5
  • Praise – 25
  • Praised – 4
  • Praises – 2
  • Praiseworthy – 1
  • Praising – 3
  • Pray – 14
  • Prayed – 2
  • Prayer – 16
  • Prayers – 5

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Table of Weights, Measures, and Monies

After the concordance is a 2-page Table of Weights, Measures, and Monies. This is a 2-page table that shows weights, land measures of length, dry measures, liquid measures, and monies. It shows the unit, measure or value, equivalents, and translations. It also provides some information about the measures in the introduction to the tables.

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In the back are 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.

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. Apostles’ 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 grid location. The divisions include:

  1. Archaeological Sites in the Holy Land and the Bible Lands
  2. Biblical Names of Cities, Towns, and Villages
  3. Cultural Features: Regions, Tribal Names, Places, and Countries
  4. Points of Interest in Jerusalem
  5. Land Features: Mountains, Hills, Valleys, Islands, Desserts, and Wildernesses
  6. Water Features: Oceans, Seas, Lakes, Rivers, Brooks, Springs, and Wadis

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Here’s how the different sizes compare, and how the standard edition compares to the Kirkbride NKJV TCR.

Regular Size and Kirkbride

Large Print and Regular Size

Handy Size and Regular Size

Handy Size and Large Print

Regular Size and Premier Collection

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Conclusion on the NKJV Thompson

Zondervan’s updated version of the NKJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible is a well-designed update to one of the best study Bibles available. Although the NKJV was one of the most complete of the Kirbride editions, the updates finish that work and complete the chains and indexes. It’s available in several sizes and cover options. The Zondervan NKJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible in Comfort Print is an excellent study Bible for any layman, teacher, preacher, or pastor.

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This Bible is available from



Church Source   



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.