Bible lovers who study scripture and notice the sounds and nuances of words usually want The Word in a word-for-word translation with a rich vocabulary and musicality, making the King James Version (KJV) a traditional favorite even for readers who didn’t grow up with the KJV.
To test this supposition, I read aloud the same passage in several translations, ranging from thought-for-thought to contemporary versions to paraphrases, to see which one a poetry-minded, book-loving teenager would like best. Sure enough, the KJV won over all.
That teen had neither read nor heard the KJV, but Christians who know memorable, quotable verses almost always want their own copy of KJV to read, study, and compare with newer versions. Therefore, Bible publishers continue to release new editions occasionally, giving readers a wealth of choices.
Since I still have my reader edition of KJV from childhood days in Sunday School, I wanted a copy in a good quality leather but with no footnotes expressing theological views I don’t necessarily share. I considered a wide-margin edition with a concordance but wanted additional features, preferably in keeping with this word-for-word translation of The Word. The logical choice, then, became a Thompson Chain Reference Bible with its unique focus on A Word or phrase, starting with its first occurrence and ending with its last, thereby linking a chain of thought throughout the Bible.
A chain reference edition also works wonderfully well for those of us who like to study scripture by topic instead of by book. For example, writers or teachers who develop study materials or handouts for study groups can address a timely topic from a biblical perspective by picking a topic such as “Marriage,” looking up the word in the alphabetized index in the back of a Thompson, then going to the number beside the topic (in this case, “1620”) where you’ll find a list of Bible verses having to do with marriage. When you look up the first scripture listed, the next reference will be shown in the margin beside that verse.
Other Unique Features: The Thompson is not just a topical treasure, however. If you prefer studying by books or even by Bible people, this edition helps you do that too! Following the extensive but “Condensed Cyclopedia of Topics and Texts” previously mentioned, for example, you’ll find outlines and analyses of each book of the Bible, and after that character studies.
If, though, you want to study or write about biblical prophecies, you’ll find “Prophecies Concerning Jesus and Their Fulfillment” arranged chronologically. Events taking place and travels of key Bible people have been mapped out for you too. And, to better understand the times, just keep on reading and you’ll locate the lengthy “Archeological Supplement,” covering everything from “Absalom’s Pillar” in the Kidron Valley to “Zorah,” the home of Samson, 15 miles from Jerusalem.
A Hebrew calendar comes next with “An Abbreviated Glossary of Old English, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Words from the King James (Authorized) Version of the Bible with Present-Day Meanings” – an immensely helpful section, reminding readers that “Betwixt” is between and “Twain” is two. In addition to these study aids, the Thompson ends with a concordance and series of maps.
Quality Cover: As this Bible will surely be used for years, a quality cover in genuine leather sounds like a smart choice, and I found a good price in a large print edition, which I ordered, as shown below. (Incidentally, the “large” print is not too large or overbearing but easy to read.) Also, even the nicest cover won’t hold up to heavy use with glued-in pages, but the Thompson manages to include everything a serious student or Bible lover will love in a easily manageable size, so this edition comes with Smyth-Sewn pages, made and assembled in the U.S.A. as it’s most likely been done for over 5 generations.
©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler
Thompson Chain Reference Bible, KJV, large print, genuine leather
Thompson Chain Reference Bible, KJV, large print, genuine leather, index tabs