Zondervan’s Thompson Chain Reference Bibles

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan has just released their editions of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. This round of Zondervan Thompson Bibles was printed using Kirkbride’s files, but they’ve made an adjustment to the red letter, changed the paper, and they’re available in multiple cover options. Most of all, after a long wait, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is available again in several translations and in several covers. In this review, I’m looking at three different translations in three different covers. All are made in the USA.

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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This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)

Amazon

Christianbook

and local Bible bookstores

_________________________________________________________

Table of Contents

  1. Video Review
  2. Content
  3. Binding
  4. Paper
  5. Print
  6. References
  7. Concordance
  8. Bible Atlas
  9. Comparisons
  10. Conclusion

Video Review

Table of Contents

Content

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

Zondervan Thompson

The Zondervan editions use the same files as the Kirkbride editions. If you’ve seen a Thompson from Kirkbride in KJV, NKJV, NASB, or ESV, then you’ll be familiar with the content because it’s exactly the same. This includes the Thompson chain reference system, alphabetical index, numerical index, outline studies of the Bible, Bible character studies, Bible harmonies and illustrated studies, archaeological supplement, Hebrew calendar, concordance, maps, etc. The content has no changes.

Rather than reviewing these Bibles as I normally would, this review will show what’s different for the Zondervan editions. I’ve already reviewed the Thomson Chain Reference Bible in several translations. For more information about the Thomson editions, you can see the original reviews here:

Table of Contents

Binding

I’m reviewing three different covers. Each cover is available for each translation. All editions are sewn. Unlike the Kirkbride edition which was known for the spine’s v shape, the spine stays flat on the Zondervan editions. I’m sure this is better for the spine, but this makes the text curve into the gutter. In this case, the text is fine, but the chain references can sometimes be a little difficult to see in the inner margin. All are Smyth sewn.

Hardcover

Zondervan Thompson

The hardcover edition includes a dust jacket. For the NKJV editions, it’s maroon with gold text. The cover itself is coated board and it’s the same color but without the text. This one stays open perfectly to any page. It has an extra-long ribbon in honey-gold. The head/tail bands are gold. The page edges are white.

Leathersoft

Zondervan Thompson

The Leathersoft edition that I have is brown. It’s about a medium shade of brown and has some color variation. The grain looks like real leather. I like the look and feel. It has perimeter stitching. The cover has no printing, while the spine has four printed rib indications, the title printed so it’s upright when the Bible is lying on the table, and the translation and Zondervan logo, all printed in gold. The liner pastedown with brown vinyl. It stays open at the beginning of Genesis. It has an extra-long honey-gold ribbon. the head/tail bands are brown and they don’t stand out. The pages are gold-gilted.

Bonded Leather

Zondervan Thompson

The bonded leather is black and it has a smoother grain. You can see a little bit of grain and it looks interesting. It’s not as pronounced as the Leathersoft and it has a look similar to ironed-calfskin. It has perimeter stitching with no printing on the front. Information on the spine is printed in gold and includes four stamped rib indications, the title printed so it’s upright when the Bible is lying on the table, and the translation and Zondervan logo. The liner pastedown with black vinyl. This cover is stiffer and will stay open somewhere in Exodus. It has an extra-long red ribbon and black head/tail bands. Page edges are gold-gilted.

Table of Contents

Paper

Zondervan Thompson

The paper is 30gsm. This seems to be the same paper that Zondervan uses in their lower-priced editions. It’s smooth to the touch and I had no issues grabbing the pages between my fingers to turn them. It’s off-white and has no glare under direct light. The show-through is actually less than I expected. The only show-through that’s noticeable is on the blank portions of the page such as the end of the book.

All three of my review copies have cockling. It isn’t bad enough to keep me from using them, but I never saw this with editions from Kirkbride. This is the first area I think should be improved for the next print run.

Table of Contents

Print

Zondervan Thompson

The print and layout are directly from the Kirkbride files. Kirkbride used a typeface that’s lightweight, which results in medium darkness. The black letter matches the Kirkbride, but Zondervan did improve on the red letter. It’s still not bold, but they do use a darker shade of red. The black letter is highly consistent throughout. The red does have some noticeable variation. It looks better than the Kirkbride to me but I’d love to see this text even darker. It would probably need more opaque paper if the font was any darker, though, in order to maintain show-through.

Table of Contents

Comparisons

Bonded leather – Zondervan on the left, Kirkbride on the right

 

Bonded leather – Zondervan on the left, Kirkbride on the right

 

Zondervan ESV on the left, Kirkbride ESV on the right

 

ESV Zondervan on the left, Kirkbride ESV on the right

 

Zondervan NASB on the left, Kirkbride NKJV on the right

 

NASB Zondervan on the left, Kirkbride NKJV on the right

 

Zondervan NKJV on the left, Kirkbride NKJV on the right

 

Zondervan NKJV on the left, Kirkbride NKJV on the right

 

Here’s how the Zondervan Thompson editions compare with editions by Kirkbride. The Kirkbride editions include the KJV in genuine leather (made in china), the NKJV in bonded leather, and the ESV in paperback. The Zondervan editions include that I’m reviewing include the NKJV in hardcover, the 77 NASB in brown Leathersoft, and the 2016 ESV in black bonded leather.

For the KJV, I’ll review the upcoming large print edition when it releases. The NIV will have to wait until next year. Kirkbride only had the 1984 edition and the 2011 edition is the one that Zondervan can publish. Fortunately, it’s being re-typeset in Comfort Print and will be available next year in several covers including the Premier Collection.

The paper in the Kirkbride editions has a slightly cream tint. It seems to have slightly more show-through, but it’s really hard to tell. The main difference in the paper is the Kirkbride has a touch of glare under direct light, while the Zondervan does not. Print in the Kirkbride is slightly darker, which explains the extra show-through. Red-letter is a brighter shade of red. It stands out a little more because of the darker print.

The inner margin space is about the same. My Kirkbride editions do not have the cockling in the gutter. The only other difference is the maps. Kirkbride maps are printed on non-glossy pages or semi-glossy pages (depending on the translation or when it was made), while the Zondervan is on semi-glossy pages. The Kirkbride maps are not as bold of colors as the Zondervan.

Table of Contents

Conclusion

Zondervan Thompson

I am grateful that Zondervan has taken up the mantle for the Thompson Chain Reference Bible so it doesn’t go out of production. I think it’s one of the best study Bibles available because it allows Scripture to interpret Scripture. It’s good to see some of the translations available again. Some of these haven’t been available for a while.

The overall quality of the Zondervan Thompson is good, especially for this price range, but I’d like to see the cockling in the inner margin improved. The KJV edition that I have doesn’t have this. Zondervan editions are cheaper, though, so we’re really comparing different price ranges. At $35-55, the Zondervan Thompson Chain Reference Bibles are easily worth their price. They’re also made in the USA, which is surprising and welcome.

I personally can’t wait for the Comfort Print editions, but these are still a year or more away. Until then, these  Zondervan Thompson Bibles are well worth their price and are a good choice for anyone interested in an affordable Thompson in KJV, NKJV, ESV, or NASB.

Table of Contents

_________________________________________________________

This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)

Amazon

Christianbook

and local Bible bookstores

_________________________________________________________

 

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.

6 Comments

  1. Matt

    With the cockling issue, I noticed on a couple of other videos I saw, that it wasn’t an issue for them at least in appearance. One you could hear it, and the other you couldn’t. Maybe they sent a review stock to you? I have seen in some Bible reviews that they send an actual review production. Also, it’s interesting that Amazon has them in stock but Christian book doesn’t. I ordered mine from christianbook.com anyway. Saved a lot of money and it supports them too.

    Reply
  2. Steve

    I hope the Comfort Print editions revise the chain topics and headings. That’s what I’m looking for.

    Reply
  3. No change if we don’t speak up

    The print is not dark enough for those who wear glasses and over 50. Having trouble seeing the print. So sad that they have changed it. Why didn’t they just leave everything the same and what took them so long if they didn’t change anything about this Bible. One comment is that the paper they use to print this is a low quality compared to their other Bibles. Why does the world always try to improve on a good thing? fix something that is not broken…

    Reply
    • Randy A Brown

      I agree. They didn’t actually intend for it to be lighter. Maybe the next run will be darker.

  4. Prentiss Yeates

    I am thankful that Zondervon purchased Kirkbride publishing. Very good comparison- if ever Zondervon updates the KJV edition then all things will be made right for Rev. Frank Thompson and the study bible he developed.

    Reply
    • Alexander Thomson

      The best way to improve the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is to add textual cross-references to the thematic/topical system. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if TBS licensed inclusion of its Westminster references, or Nelson of the references in its New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge or Nelson’s Cross-Reference Guide to the Bible? Such addition would be good for any translation, but most fitting for the KJV that Frank Thompson loved.

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