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Review of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible

As I promised last month, I will turn my attention to the Thompson Chain Reference Bible. I know I have already tipped my hand when I stated last month that it was one of my favorites as a “study Bible.” I am not so sure that this reference Bible should be called a true study Bible (in the same sense as that of the Mac Arthur, Ryrie, Scofield, or Holman study Bibles). Yet for those who want to mine the Word of God for the treasures that it holds, they will certainly get a sense that they are truly studying the Scriptures. The fact of the matter is, the Thompson Chain Reference Bible boasts of more than 100,000 marginal references covering 8,000 completed chain topics. It comes in the KJV (King James Version), NKJV (New King James Version), NASB (New American Standard Bible), NIV (1984) (New International Version), as well as NIV 2011. When you get to the end of the Book of Revelation, you come to the “Thompson Comprehensive Bible Helps” boasting contents of over 75 practical features divided into nine departments. It is filled with: plenty of charts and diagrams, an archaeological supplement, Hebrew calendar, concordance, Bible maps, and much more. The content of this study Bible is geared toward any and all Christians--no matter their particular denominational affiliation. Wikipedia states that, “Dr. Thompson believed the Bible should be presented in a simple, but scholarly way. He saw the need for a well-organized reference Bible that would be of practical use to the layman as well as a minister.” It is a true, living testament that his system of study works since it has been around for about 96 years.

As to its layout, it will take the student some time to familiarize him or herself with the workings of this reference Bible. I have had mine since the early 90’s and I’m still working at getting a handle on it. The layout isn’t all that appealing to the eyes, rather black and white, but the font is 8 and (even for my eyes) still easy to read. It comes in large print 9 font, but I wish they made it in a 10 font. However, then I would not be carrying it to church, as it is a big Bible to begin with! For me, I believe the Thompson Chain Reference Bible says, “Use me! You will not be disappointed.”

As to the cover and paper, it comes in hardbound, genuine leather Smyth sewn, and bonded leather. When it says “genuine leather,” this is usually interpreted as pigskin unless otherwise stated. The paper is thin, but I believe durable. There is some bleed-through (or what the experts say is ghosting), but it will take a ballpoint pen, pencil and highlighter without a lot of show-through. The question is: Will it hold up under day-to-day use? Yes! This reference Bible was meant to last a long time. The truth is no Bible, no matter how well it is made, will last a lifetime. However, this one should serve you well for a decade or more. I would suggest (as well as with all Bibles) that if you like it enough and consider it to be your main “go to” Bible that you invest in a new cover of real quality. There are a number of reputable bookbinders on the Internet that will do an outstanding job of rebinding your favorite Bible. If you are interested in this process let me know, and I will point you to one that I would use and have contacted.

So the question is: Why is the Thompson Chain Reference Bible one of my favorite study Bibles of the ones I own? The truth of the matter is, it is old school. I like the fact that Thompson doesn’t give me the answer I looking for up front, but is saying, “You want an answer to your question? Go looking it up for yourself!” He gives you his tools, his wealth of biblical knowledge, his system for study, but he expects you to find the answers you are looking for on your own. The truth is that if the answer is there, you will find it. If not, then you need to accept what you do find. I find it refreshing in an age where most Christians are being spoon fed, that someone has come along and said the best way to feast on the Word of God is to plant seeds, give it plenty of water and light, and allow the Holy Spirit to bear its fruit. Trust me when I say this, when you work hard for something that you want (even in learning) and you finally get it, you will appreciate it even more. And, it will never leave you. Let me also say, this Bible is at a price that I believe all families can afford, starting at $27.99 at Christian Books Distributors (CBD), and up to $79.99 for genuine leather thumb index. For the price of an extra large pizza, chicken wings, and the beverage of your choice, this reference Bible is a “steal.” And, it will last you a lot longer than your favorite food groups!

Next month, we will take a look at the Holman Christian Standard Study Bible. This is the Cadillac of all study Bibles. It comes fully loaded, in just about every size you can imagine. Stay tuned for more!

This is Pastor Whalen, wishing you joy in Jesus!

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