Thompson Chain Reference Bible Review

Jennifer Gould: Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother, Teacher and my Daughter-in-Law. Grateful to have her.

Zondervan has produced and made available for sale as of June 2021 the Thompson Chain-Reference.  Never heard of it?  Neither had I, but apparently Dr. Frank Charles Thompson started working on this system of Bible Study way back in 1890!  It was first published in 1908 and continued to be published for the next 100 years by the Kirkbride Bible Company, until the baton was passed to Zondervan.  Hopefully with such a well known and popular publisher this treasure will continue to be produced and become more popular as time goes by. 

The core of this Bible is the margin notes which became the “chain-links.”  For instance I was recently doing some study on foot-washing.  I first turned to the general index at the back, browsed for the word foot, and then it gave me the chain reference number 3404.  Alrighty then, now I turned over to the much more detailed Chain Reference Index (which has over 8,000 topics!) and found in numerical order number 3404.  This is the third category under the subheading guests, which is the fourth subheading under the main topic of Social Life.  As you can see the Chain-Index is formatted topically, so if you are interested in a certain topic, many related topics will be found in the associated subheadings.  But, I digress, back to number 3404.  There are 9 Bible verses associated with foot-washing, fabulous!  Now, in ordinary circumstances with your concordance beside you, or in the back of your Bible you would find the first verse, then flip back to your concordance to find out what the next verse is, flip to it, flip back, flip again, and so on back and forth.  The genius of this Bible is that in the margin next to the text is the next verse link in the chain. The first verse reference for foot-washing is Genesis 18:4.  Once I turn there I don’t have t0 to flip to the back again.  All I need to do is look in the side margin and it will tell me the next verse to turn to (Genesis 19:2), then the next until you go through all the relevant verses. 

What also makes this so brilliant is if you are reading a passage of scripture, and a particular passage or verse strikes you, you only need to look to the margin to see various topics addressed in the verse and can then place the included silk ribbon bookmark into the passage, while you explore the next link in the chain.  Now if you run into a topic and there is no verse next to it in the chain, it is because you are at the end of the chain.  Then you can look at the topic number, turn to the chain index, and find out where it begins.  Now if all this is a bit confusing, it is only because this system is so incredibly detailed.  If you go online to https://www.zondervan.com/p/thompsonchainreference/ there are several videos to help guide you through the basic process. 

The Bible I am reviewing happens to be the NASB, but Zondervan has also produced KJV, NKJV,  NIV, ESV, and the Spanish RVR with multiple cover choices.  There are even personal size and student editions.  They all have 8.3 comfort print font and the words of Christ in red which I much appreciate.  All told, there are over 100,000 references listed in this Bible!

 But wait!  There is more!  I frankly couldn’t believe it when I turned to the back and started looking through all the fabulous resources at the back.  I had to grab my Bible tabs and add them to help ensure I made full use of them.  Besides the general index, and chain index, there is a Bible Readings section, which is self described as “including a wide range of subjects for general use in private devotions and public services.”  For instance you have recommended verses to read on death, Christ’s prayers, heavenly citizenship, and so on. 

Next comes one of my favorite sections, Outline Studies of the Bible.  Every book of the Bible is outlined for you with major events and topics.  In the introduction to this section there is a wonderful summary of the origin and growth of the English Bible, a summary of events between the Old and New Testaments, and more.  I can see how having a basic outline of events and topics would be vastly helpful in study, especially in longer books with a lot going on.

Next up is a section on Character studies.  For instance, if you would like to study Elijah, you will get a chronological listing of events in his life and the coordinating Bible verse.  Lesser known characters have their chain reference number listed instead of a full outline.   

Continuing on we have another fabulous section I have never seen anything like.  Titled Bible Harmonies and Illustrated Studies you have 50 pages of chronological maps, chronologies of the lives of Moses, Jesus, Peter, Paul, help for Christian workers, advice for Bible memorization, and Bible marking, and places of worship.  The graphics of this section are simply incredible and a great resource for teaching.

We are still not done!  There is a 75 pages archaeological supplement by G. Frederick Owen. If it is a place mentioned in the Bible, there is a short summary of the description and what archeological finds are associated with it.  Black and white images include some famous attributes of cities, or places like the Pool of Siloam.  Right after this section and not to be forgotten is a well done Hebrew Calendar that lists the coordinating months to the English calendar, the festivals that occur in each month, what season that would be in ancient Israel, and even the winds, weather and agricultural conditions! 

Just in case all of this wasn’t enough the NASB concordance was included and a scripture atlas with 12 full color maps.  I’ve seen plenty of these maps before, but the atlas included is very useful.  Perhaps in my study I come across Ekron, but I haven’t a clue where that could be or what map to look on. I can look in the atlas, find Ekron and discover I need to look on map 4, in D2, and there it shall be.

Whew!  You thought I would never be done!  That’s how I felt while exploring the treasures included in this Bible,  just when I thought there couldn’t possibly be anymore, there was.  I love having a variety of Bibles available.  Sometimes I would like commentary included to help me flesh out meaning or context.  Sometimes I like something plain, so that I can glean for myself without wading through others’ ideas to reach my own.  For any disciple that wants to explore the riches of the Bible, make connections, and study topics, I would HIGHLY recommend this Bible.  The amount of resources included along with ease of use makes this a valuable asset to your collection.  Go check it out for yourself at the FaithGateway store!          I received this to preview though my mother in law Rhonda Gould who is a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid. #BibleGatewayPartner.    

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