Review: The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

The Hardcover, Black Bonded Leather, and Brown Leathersoft Copies of the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible was first published in 1908. Zondervan is now issuing new editions in multiple translations. Check it out here. I received a copy of this Bible (Hardcover Edition) for free as a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. I have a few thoughts.

About This Bible

The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible has been around a while. I’ve had a copy for years. My mom sent a Thompson Chain-Reference Bible with me when I went off to college, and briefly showed me how to use the reference system to trace themes and topics through the sacred text.

Not until now have I learned how the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible came to be. It was put together by Dr. Frank Charles Thompson, who began his ministry among Methodist people in the 1800s. He received his PhD from Boston University, was a scholar of Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and took notes in the margins of his King James Version of the Bible. Congregants saw these notes, inquired as to their purpose, and encouraged Dr. Thompson to make these notes widely available. Thompson eventually partnered with a gentleman named B. B. Kirkbridge, who acquired the rights to sell and distribute the Bible–which was first sold door to door. Zondervan released an NIV version in 1983.

Translations and Tools

The latest issue from Zondervan has been printed in a few translations: the King James Version (KJV), English Standard Version (ESV), and New American Standard Bible (NASB).

There are several ways to use the Thompson Chain-Reference, most famously using its topical system. More than 7,000 topical listings are found in the alphabetical index at the rear of the Bible and more than 4,000 of these topics are arranged into “chains,” threads which one can follow through the Scriptures. As a disciple of John Wesley, Thompson surely understood what it means to “search” the Scriptures, and highlighted pathways others could tread.

Find a sample here. You will be able to see the topic numbers, themes, and references in the margins.

The Thompson Chain-Reference also includes book introductions and outlines for each book. You can study chapters, passages, or verses, and follow the references listed in the margins to deepen your understanding and broaden the context of your study. This Bible also includes character studies that you can trace, a list of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and how they were fulfilled in the New Testament, maps that correspond to different portions of the biblical narrative, aids to memorization and recommendations for taking notes in your Bible, and a concordance.

This Bible also has a built in ribbon that can be used as a bookmark.

How I’ll Use This Bible

I take on writing projects occasionally that prefer use of the NASB translation, so this Bible will come in handy. I can use the Thompson Chain-Reference system to further my understanding of a given text. I’ll use for ease of reference and to further my study, to help me make connections across the whole of Scripture.

I’m always on the look out for editions of the Bible that could serve as one-stop tools for comprehensive Bible study. This is one of those tools. I generally recommend that a person own a good Bible translation, a good one-volume commentary, a good Bible dictionary, and an accurate Bible atlas. This Bible could serve all those purposes.

A nice new issue from Zondervan.