Thomas Nelson KJV Maclaren Series Bible Review
The KJV Maclaren Series is a rebrand of the Thomas Nelson Preaching Bible. It adds maps and is available in more covers in multiple price ranges. This series is named for the Victorian-era preacher Alexander Maclaren. It does not include notes, articles, or anything else from Maclaren. It’s just named for him. Like the Preaching Bible, the series is available in KJV and NKJV. In this review, I’m looking at the KJV in black goatskin, brown genuine leather, black Leathersoft, and brown Leathersoft. All are made in China.
This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)
and many local Bible bookstores
Table of Contents
- Video Review
- Typography and Layout
- Translation Footnotes
- Bible Atlas
Each edition is Smyth sewn. They’re around the same size and weight (6.6 x 9.6 x 1.5″, 2lbs, 9.3oz), which is good for carry and reading.
The black goatskin is thick and flexible. The grain looks and feels natural. It has stitching around the perimeter. It has a small yapp (overhang). Nothing is printed on the front. The spine has 5 raised hubs. The text is small and it’s stamped in gold. The small text keeps it understated and elegant. This leather has the smell of leather, but it’s not overpowering.
The liner is edge-lined leather. The liner includes a gilt line around the inside perimeter. The edge-lined tab is a little stiff, but it does stay open in Genesis without closing. it does have a little hump when opened to the first few pages because of the tab. This text block has overcast stitching in the front to improve durability.
It includes 3 satin ribbons in black, red, and blue. The head/tail bands are black. It weighs 2lbs, 10.5 oz. The overall size is 6.75 x 9.8 x 1.6″.
Brown Genuine Leather
This cover is brown genuine leather. It’s a stamped grain but it looks natural. I love the look and feel of this one. It has perimeter stitching. Nothing is printed on the front. The spine includes HOLY BIBLE, KJV, Thomas Nelson, and 5 raised hubs outlined in gold.
It has a brown paste-down vinyl liner that looks like it might have reinforced binder’s tape. It’s Smyth sewn and stays open in Genesis out of the box. It includes 3 satin ribbons in brown, red, and blue. It weighs 2lbs, 9.3oz. The overall size is 6.6 x 9.6 x 1.5″.
The black has a texture that looks like real goatskin leather. It includes perimeter stitching. The front has no printing. The spine includes 5 raised hubs and gold decorations. The decorations are not as fancy as previous editions. This spine looks a little cleaner. The liner is black paste-down paper. It includes 2 satin ribbons in black and gold. It weighs 2lbs, 7.5oz. The overall size is 6.6 x 9.6 x 1.5″.
The brown Leathersoft is a two-tone cover. A medium shade of brown is used for the front and a darker shade of brown is sewn to it. It has enough grain and color variation to look elegant. It’s perimeter-stitched with nothing printed on the front. The spine includes 5 raised hubs and gold block decorations. They’re a little more simplified from some of the other recent editions (which is my preference). The liner is brown paste-down paper. It includes 2 satin ribbons in brown and dark brown. It weighs 2lbs, 7.5oz. The overall size is 6.6 x 9.6 x 1.5″.
The KJV Maclaren paper is 36gsm premium Bible paper. It’s white in color and it’s some of the most opaque paper I’ve seen. It has a rough texture that makes it easier than most to grab and turn. It’s excellent for reading, preaching, and marking. This is the same paper as in the Preaching Bible, but slightly rougher (it’s probably exactly the same as the current edition of the Preaching Bible). The paper is part of why I chose the Preaching Bible for pulpit use and I’m glad to see it’s still used.
Typography and Layout
The text in the KJV Maclaren is presented in a double-column verse-by-verse layout with no other formatting. The header shows the book name and reference in the outer margin and the page number in the center. Across the footer are the cross-references and footnotes in a single column. All highlights are in blue. The blue is easy on the eyes and stands out without being distracting.
The font is 10.5 Comfort Print, designed by 2K/Denmark. This is the same font that was labeled as an 11.5 in the preaching Bible. In my Preaching Bible review, I mentioned that it looked smaller than that to me. Thomas Nelson agreed and it’s now been remeasured as 10.5. This font is great for reading in private and public. The blue verse numbers make it easy to find verses quickly. Just like the Preaching Bible, the KJV Maclaren Series is excellent for preaching.
It averages between 8-10 words per line and it has lots of space between the lines. It’s printed with line-matching, meaning the text is printed in the same location on both sides of the page. Show-through is minimal and, due to the paper’s high opacity, the lines behind the text are white, which keeps the text from looking gray. The blue section headings are easy to use and there are lots of them. The references and footnotes in the footer take an extra step to find them but considering how clean the text is it’s worth it. I’ve learned to ignore the reference and footnote keys while preaching.
The KJV Maclaren has 72,000 Cross-references and translation footnotes in the footer. The references are from the King James Study Bible. There are enough references for study and sermon prep. The single-column layout can take a few extra seconds to locate them.
Here are a few examples to help you compare:
- Genesis 1:1 – Ps. 102:25; Is. 40:21; John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:10; Gen. 2:4; Ps. 8:3; 89:11; 90:2; Is. 44:24; Acts 17:24; Rom. 1:20; Heb. 1:2; 11:3; Rev. 4:11
- Deuteronomy 6:4 – Deut. 4:35; Mark 12:29; John 17:3; 1 Cor. 8:4,6
- Isaiah 9:6 – Is. 7:14; Luke 2:11; John 1:45; Luke 2:7; John 3:16; I John 4:9; Matt. 28:18; I Cor. 15:25; Rev 12:5; Judg. 13:18; Titus 2:13; Eph. 2:14;
- Matthew 28:19 – Mk 16:15; Is 52:10; Lk 24:47; Ac 2:29, 39; Rom 10:18; Col 1:23
- Mark 12:29 – Deut. 6:4, 5; Is 44:8; 45:22; 46:9; I Cor. 8:6
- John 1:1 – Gen 1:1; Col 1:17; 1 John 1:1; I John 1:14; Rev. 19:13; John 17:5; John 1:2; 1 John 5:20
- John 3:16 – Rom 5:8; Ep 2:4; 2 Thes 2:16; 1 Jn 4:9, 10; Rev 1:5; Is 9:6
- Acts 2:38 – Luke 24:47
- Romans 10:9 – Mt 10:32; Lk 12:8; Ac 8:37; Rom 14:9; 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:11
- 1 John 1:1 – John 1:1; I John 2:13,14; Luke 1:2; John 1:14; 2 Pet. 1:16; Luke 24:39; John 20:27; John 1:1, 4, 14
The translation footnotes include a glossary supplied by Thomas Nelson. They provide modern equivalents of the archaic words and they’re placed on the page where you need them. This is my preference and makes the Thomas Nelson editions stand out among KJVs, making them easier to read and understand. They could be a touch easier to find quickly, though. They’re placed with cross-references, which can make them difficult to locate at a glance.
In the back are 7 full-color Zondervan maps printed on 8 pages of thick glossy paper. I’m glad to see the maps added to the KJV Maclaren. I know a lot of preachers didn’t care that the Preaching Bible didn’t include them, but I use maps for teaching and this was one of my problems with the Preaching Bible. Also, I wanted something in the back to separate the last page of Revelation from the end cover. So, I’m sure they added them just for me. That’s my story, anyway.
It does not include an index but the maps are annotated well and I find them easy enough to use. They’re printed with bright earth-tone colors. They show topography, distance, routes, borders, possible locations of lost places, battles, elevation, cities, and locations for the events of Jesus’ ministry.
- World of the Patriarchs
- Exodus and Conquest of Canaan
- Land of the Twelve Tribes
- Kingdom of David and Solomon
- Jesus’ Ministry
- Paul’s Missionary Journeys
- Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus
Here’s how the KJV Maclaren Series compares to a few other popular large print reference editions that are about the same size. Most are in a different price range.
KJV Preaching Bible
The KJV Preaching Bible has the same text block. The only difference is the title, lack of maps, and covers. The paper is smoother, but it’s still the same brand. The slight difference in smoothness is minor. This one has a calfskin cover with a vinyl edge-lined liner. The liner is stiff and it wants to close in the front and back. The Preaching Bible has been the Bible I’ve used in the pulpit since it released, but I’m moving to the KJV Maclaren. I’m leaning toward the brown genuine leather because it stays open and flat better than the others, but the goatskin is excellent, too.
Premier Collection Giant Print Reference KJV
The Premier Collection Giant Print Reference KJV is a premium edition with a goatskin cover and leather liner. It has a larger font with red highlights and a more narrow column with fewer cross-references placed in the center column. It has page summaries instead of section headings. The paper is 36gsm premium European Bible paper. The paper is high quality, but I prefer the Maclaren’s paper. The main advantage is it has a center-column reference (they can be easier to find quickly), book introductions, and a concordance. Both are excellent Bibles.
The Schuyler Canterbury is made in the Netherlands and has 28gsm Indopaque premium paper. The 55k references are placed in the footer. The font is slightly larger but not as dark. It’s a red-letter edition and includes red highlights, section headings, and decorative drop-caps. It does not include footnotes. In the back are a glossary, concordance, maps, and note pages. The footprint is the same but it’s slightly thinner.
The Longprimer 52 is made in the Netherlands and has 36gsm paper with a slight cream tone. This paper might be my favorite in any Bible. The footprint is slightly smaller, but the thickness is the same. The 100.000 references are placed in the center column and it includes notes with manuscript variations. The text is black-letter. It doesn’t have as much whitespace and it’s self-pronouncing. Tools include a pronunciation guide, topical index, concordance, and maps. It also includes real notebook paper in the back.
The Cambridge Turquoise is made in the Netherlands and has 28gsm premium Indopaque paper. This is a reprint of the settings from the 1920s, which was typeset by hand. The font is large and bold. This is a red-letter edition. The 44,000(ish) references and footnotes are placed in the center column near the verses. It includes a concordance and maps.
The KJV Maclaren Series is one of the Bibles that I recommend the most. Even without a concordance, the Maclaren is an excellent all-around Bible. The paper is some of the best I’ve seen in a reference Bible in any price range. The font size and darkness, paper, and cover options make this one of the best KJVs available. The cover options ensure there is a Bible for every budget. There aren’t many Bibles that compare in this price range.
This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)
and many local Bible bookstores
Thomas Nelson 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.