Thomas Nelson’s King James Study Bible Review

Thomas Nelson’s King James Study Bible has been a popular study Bible for many years, and during that time it’s has gone through several revisions. The latest edition is the prettiest yet – it’s now been updated and produced in full-color. In this review I take a look at this newest edition in black genuine leather, ISBN: 9780718079895

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. 


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This cover is genuine leather with a paste-down liner and perimeter stitching. This is the softest and most flexible genuine leather I’ve ever seen. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was some type of cowhide. I love the grain and soft feel. The text-block is sewn and has no problems lying open on page one right out of the box. It also lies flat so the text doesn’t get lost in the bend.

The spine includes 4 raised ribs and The King James Study Bible printed length-ways. KJV and the Thomas Nelson logo appears at the bottom. All printing on the spine is in gold.

The overall size is 6.75″ x 9.5″ x 2″. It has two 10mm ribbons, which are much thicker than average. For those of you that are familiar with premium editions, they’re not as elegant as Berisfords ribbons but they do look nice. As expected this is a heavy Bible, weighing in at almost 4 pounds. It isn’t something I want to carry around and hold for a long time, but it is a good size to study at a desk or in your lap.


The paper is white in color and I’m guessing around 30gsm, which makes sense considering it has over 2300 pages. The opacity is in line with the gsm, so it does have some show-through but it isn’t bad and is still very usable. It has a rough(ish) texture which I find makes it easier to turn pages. Note – if you see blue in these images it’s only from the fluorescent lighting. This paper does not have a blue tint.


The text is presented in a double-column verse-by-verse format with center-column references and commentary at the bottom of the page. The section headings are printed in a dark gold/brown/red color. The center-column is lavender or a similar color. Page numbers are printed in the far outer corner in the same color as the section headings followed by the book name, chapter, and verse numbers printed in black.

The font is just a hair under 10 point and has a good amount of leading. It’s not as heavy or dark as the second edition (which could be too dark for many Bible readers). It’s medium-dark, sharp, and easy to read. The red letter is medium to medium/dark and is consistent throughout. I like this font for readability. It does have footnote and reference keys but no self-pronouncing text. Supplied words are in italics.

The columns have around 40 characters across with 7-9 words per line. The words never feel too close, so the text has enough breathing room to be easy to read.


Cross references and translator’s footnotes appear in the center column. It does have lots of references for study. 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 17:20 – Matt. 21:21; Mark 11:23; Luke 17:6; I Cor. 12:9
  • Mark 11:23 – Matt. 17:20; 21:21; Luke 17:6
  • 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
  • Acts 2:38 – Luke 24:47
  • 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

Rather than the original translator’s footnotes it includes Nelson’s footnotes on the translation, which provide modern equivalents to many of the archaic words.


The in-text notes include annotations, maps, photos, illustrations, personality profiles (which include paintings), archaeological sites (includes photos), and doctrinal footnotes.

The in-text maps are in full color. They’re annotated well and there are lots of them throughout the text. There are a few charts, such as the dreams and vision is Daniel, but there aren’t as many as I’d like.

My favorites of the notes are the personality profiles and the archaeological sites. It has lots of full-color photos throughout the text of artifacts and places. I also like the paintings. I like art anyway, so biblical art in Bibles interests me if it’s done well, and the art in this Bible is done well. They don’t take over the page and they fit nicely with the personality profiles.

Like all commentary in study Bibles, there will be verses that are skipped. The commentary does include theological bias and usually doesn’t include multiple views. Doctrines that stand out to me include a literal 6 days of Creation and pre-trib Rapture (which, for the sake of disclosure, is also my view). I recommend using commentary for reference only and study from multiple points of view, and ultimately allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.


Both testaments and books include book introductions. The introductions to the Old and New Testaments take almost two pages and break down the overall content into the types of books and describe the content, providing a short overview.

Book introductions take around 2.5 pages and include a photo for the header. The material is different from one book to another, but they include information such as title, authorship, date, interpretation and purpose, the influence of the author, content, distinctive features, application, etc. They also include an outline and a photo of something that’s important to that book.

The introductions are great for understanding the setting and purpose of the book. They also provide insights on interpretation and include lots of references for study. They do include a little theological bias but not as much as the annotations.

It also includes a section between the testaments that discusses the events leading up to the New Testament including:

  • The Persian Period
  • Alexander the Great
  • The Ptolemies
  • The Seleucids
  • The Maccabean Revolt
  • The Hasmoneans
  • The Romans
  • The Jewish Sects
  • The Pharisees
  • The Saducees
  • The Essenes
  • Chronology
  • The Apocrypha
  • Harmony of the Gospels


Both the front and back includes several indexes and articles for study. The front includes:

  • How to Use the KJV Study Bible
  • Introduction to Doctrinal Footnotes
  • How to Study the Bible
  • God’s Answers to our Concerns

I especially like the article on how to study the Bible. It provides good information on personal Bible study techniques and practices, creating a systematic method to get the most out of your study time. It includes lots of methods and examples and includes the principles of interpretation.

Most of the material is in the back. It includes:

  • 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

These are mostly lists of Scripture. The Topical Index to End Times Study focuses on the book of Revelation from a pre-trib Rapture point of view and provides the information in a topical list rather than the typical chart or timeline that’s mostly used for end times studies.


The concordance is large at 168 pages. The entries are displayed in two columns. Many of the entries include Hebrew or Greek definitions. All include the Strong’s numbers and even provide the numbers for each entry if they use different words in Greek or Hebrew. This is a good concordance for study and sermon prep.

Here are a few example entries with the number of references given.

  • Christ – 18
  • Christian – 3
  • Faith – 96
  • Faithful – 41
  • Faithfully – 1
  • Faithfulness – 6
  • Faithless –3
  • God – 56
  • Godhead – 3
  • Godliness – 11
  • Godly – 11
  • Praise (n.) – 32
  • Praise (v.) – 15
  • Pray – 38
  • Prayer –36


There are 7 full-color maps on 8 thick glossy pages. The maps include topography, distance, journeys, routes, battles, cities, water, borders, roads, locations of events, and dates. It doesn’t have an index but they are labeled and annotated well, which helps make it easier to find something.

Maps include:

  1. World of the Patriarchs
  2. Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan
  3. Land of the Twelve Tribes
  4. Kingdom of David and Solomon
  5. Jesus’ Ministry
  6. Paul’s Missionary Journeys
  7. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus


Thomas Nelson’s King James Study Bible full-color edition is a nice update to the already popular KJV Study Bible. It’s cleaner and much easier to read (and this is coming from someone that likes dark fonts). Everything is in color. It is a large Bible but it does have a lot of material. I especially like the maps, photos, illustrations, personality profiles, paintings, archaeological sites, and indexes.

I do prefer annotations to cover multiple views (which this one does not), but like all commentary I recommend using the notes for reference only and do you own study. If you were a fan of the previous edition then I’m sure you will like this full color edition. It’s a good choice for study and sermon prep.


Buy from (includes some affiliate links)


Barnes & Noble

and many local Bible bookstores


Photography by hannah C brown

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. 

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. Prentiss Yeates

    My wife would have a fit , if I purchased this , but how does it compare with The Holman illustrated KJV?
    Thank you Randy for your reviews, they really are a big help since at times , the only way to look, is to purchase. And most times that’s not an option.
    Prentiss Yeates

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Prentiss. We’re working on an article to compare the two, but the first difference is the paper quality. This is good paper, but Holman’s is more opaque.

    • Jordan

      Did you ever get put out an article comparing the Nelson with the Holman?

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Jordan. I haven’t done that one yet. Sorry about that. I’ll add it to my todo list so I don’t forget it.

  2. Jordan

    Is this the same bible that use to be the Liberty Annotated Study Bible?

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Jordan. It is. I’m not sure what the differences are, but I’m sure the base commentary is the same.

  3. Robert

    This does not have the KJV translator’s notes, which are superior. I don’t like Nelson’s marginal notes constantly “correcting” and “modernizing” the KJV, and insulting the reader’s intelligence. I don’t like the book introductions telling me why unbelieving critics don’t believe the authorship of the books of the bible. Get rid of the liberal doubt and unbelief.

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Robert. Thanks for the correction. I’ve made a note in the article.

    • Pat

      I’m wondering if this commentators issues have been addressed yet (in the latest printing). I am looking for a good KJV study bible. I have a couple already (Thomson Chain, Dake, & Oxford), but I am interested in getting a KJV with helpful notes that are supportive to this version and helpful to make it properly understood. Thank You!

  4. Ruth

    This Bible is definitely as good as you say it is. I’ve had trouble before understanding the KJV but the explanatory notes help immensely. The cover is very soft and will last for years. Very pleased. Thanks for the excellent review!

    • Randy A Brown

      Thanks Ruth! I’m glad you like it!

  5. Jordan

    What are the dimensions for the margins?

    • Randy A Brown

      The margins are 1/2″ for the inside and outside (although the inside is more difficult to use), 5/8″ at the top, and 1/4″ at the bottom.

  6. Jordan

    I looked at one of these in store recently, It has to be cowhide leather, the feel of it is exactly the like the old ultraslim cowhide that nelson use to sell. From the article you make it sounds like you know that it’s not cowhide?

    Also, I looked at one of the older editions and I was impressed with the notes, but not with the presentation and stuff, the older edition seemed really hard on the eyes, this new edition looks like it’s a lot easier to read, I think that is from the color, and if I am not correct the paper is more of a white color?

    I would like to see more bibles follow this example, I grow weary and tired of bibles with an off white/yellowish color, and I can’t stand the older bold fonts from say the old Scofield bible, or from the bibles put out by Cambridge, Even the Thompson chain is a good bible, but the presentation and typography is horrible in my opinion, I also love the quality of binding from LCBP and CBP, but again I cannot stand the font types, sizes, and the presentation styles that they have.

    I really like the direction they went with the presentation on this edition and hope other publishers will follow. I’d love to see Nelson do this edition with their new comfort print font.

  7. Brad Parker

    Randy, thanks for all of your detailed reviews. They have been a great reference for me in making a decision to purchase. I do have one general question for you. What study bibles have you reviewed that do have annotations that cover multiple views? Thanks!

    • Randy A Brown

      Thanks Brad! The first that comes to mind is the Holman Study Bible. It’s available in several translations. I’ll add more here as I think of them.

  8. jordan

    Are you aware of any other KJV study bibles that have marginal notes with definitions of words like this one does? I have been using this for a while and I’m astonished other study bibles don’t also do this, I find the definitions in the margins super helpful.

    Also I would still love to see a comparsion of the Holman KJV study bible against this one.

    • Randy A Brown

      Hi Jordan. I don’t know of any others with marginal definitions like the Thomas Nelson. Many include some of the words in the commentary section, but that’s about it. As far as comparing the two study Bibles, is there anything specific you want to see?

    • jordan

      I am curious as to the nature and quality in the study notes and the charts, maps/ pictures, I have found that I like the study notes in the Nelson, but I haven’t really seen helpful pictures, the pictures seem to be there just because.

      I am also interested in the differences in typography and paper quality.

  9. Matt

    It is most definitely cowhide or goatskin. There is no chance that it is pigskin which is normally what they call genuine leather. They use brown cowhide on the genuine leather Maxwell Leadership Bible so its logical to assume that it is cowhide here too.



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