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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Review of the NASB Thompson Chain Reference Bible

Review of the NASB Thompson Chain Reference Bible
Thompson Chain
Reference Bible
I have owned a KJV Thompson Chain Reference Bible for about the last 46 years.  I was excited when the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid asked me to review the NASB version of this classic Bible.  As I have shared before since this blog is a member of the Blogger Grid, I am given free copies of books from time to time to review.  This is one of those cases.

Full disclosure, I do not normally use a physical Bible any longer in my study.  I use Logos Bible Software for hours every day.  I study in a file I create in Microsoft Word that has the text of the book I am studying next to that book in the original language in a table.  Along with that I have Logos open with the resources I use regularly, displayed with the Word document utilizing three monitors.  The English version in the Word document is NASB.  That said, I use a physical Bible when I am speaking to a group and when I am traveling overseas.  Those are two different versions of the NASB.  So, I am very familiar with the NASB, it is my go to version.  Therefore, I was very pleased to be given the opportunity to review this iteration of the Thompson Chain.

As I have mentioned in previous reviews of the Quest Study Bible, the NIV Study Bible, the Verse Mapping Bible and Journal, and the NASB Adventure Bible, I highly recommend that you read the introduction and prefaces to any Bible Version you are contemplating.  I will not rehearse the reasons already stated in the other reviews, but will say that for the NASB Thompson Chain, this moves from highly recommended to absolutely critical.  I will go so far as to say that you will be lost or confused by the layout of the Bible if you should choose to skip those introductions and prefaces.  There are too many features in the Thompson Chain to adequately and succinctly explain their use in a review such as this.  However, as with my other reviews I will attempt to outline the usefulness of this Bible.

Review of the NASB Thompson Chain Reference Bible
Figure 1
The Good
First, the Thompson Chain is a stealth study Bible.  Stealth in that the vast majority of the study tools are in the back of the book on pages 1613 – 2238.  You read that right, there are 625 pages of “Comprehensive Bible Helps” starting on page 1613.  That is 28% of the publication.  I am pleased that those helps are in the book, especially that they are in the back.  That arrangement does not distract from the text of the Bible.  Each page of the Bible is mostly Bible rather than notes.  That allow one to study with less distractions.  Figure 1 is the Index on page 1614 of the Bible (if you click on the picture you will get a larger image).  A casual glance through that index reveals a wealth of material.  Note especially the second entry, “Principles of Bible Study”.  One of the benefits of the Thompson Chain is that it supports and encourages personal engagement in study this is the second article in the Book on Bible Study, the first is in the prefaces on page xii – xiii.  

Review of the NASB Thompson Chain Reference Bible
Figure 2
The primary difference between the Thompson Chain and other NASB Bibles is also its primary benefit.  The Thompson Chain handles cross references differently than other Bibles.  Consider Figure 2.  There are three sets of notes on a page, the far-left column, the far-right column, and footnotes.  Look at the far-left column.  You will seen next to the title of the Letter, two entries, “2697 Writer, Paul,” and “4277 Analysis of the Epistle.”  These “pilot numbers” direct you to the articles in the back of the Bible.  I like the article on Paul because it does not give you answers other than the passages that refer to Paul in the text of the New Testament.  There is a suggested outline of Paul’s life, but that would not preclude you from coming to your own conclusions.  This again is a feature that encourages your personal study of the Scripture.  Rather than summarizing the content of the passages, you are told where you can find them and are left to ponder them on your own.  The next entry, “4277” is the introduction material for Second Timothy.  This is more in line with what you may find in other study Bibles: place and date, purpose, historical occasion, peculiarities of the epistle, and a synopsis in fairly detailed outline form.  I would encourage you to do an overview of the book prior to consulting this article.  To look at it prior to doing your own study would likely skew your observations toward their conclusions.  While I understand their outline, I do not agree with either their breakdown or their emphases.

Finally I would draw your attention to the notes to the left of the beginning of the epistle.  Notice that when a topic is mentioned in the text in the left or right center column, for example, Paul’s apostleship, you will find a similar notation in the left or right outside column like, “202 Paul’s Apostleship”.  These follow the same format as mentioned above concerning “2697 Writer, Paul.”  Again, these “pilot numbers” refer to the chains in the back of the book.  These chains are what gives the Thompson Chain Reference Bible its name.  There are about 100,000 references in the chains.  Note that under the “202” reference there is noted “p.p. John 3:16.”  This is a reference that is a parallel passage and is independent of the chains.  

I find this system very good for a reference Bible.  The reason is what I stated above.  The notes, diagrams, and introductions to the different books do not distract from the text.  

The not so good
If you will look again at figure 1 or 2, you will note that you can see and possibly read what was printed on the previous page.  This is because the paper on which this book is printed is exceptionally thin.  You will notice in figure 1 that I wrote in the page number on page 1614, you can plainly see where I wrote 1613 on the other side of the page.  It did not bleed through, nor did a highlighter I tested; however, I use archival quality pens and highlighters.  While it did not bleed through, it is certainly noticeable and would possibly make reading the next page somewhat difficult.

That would seem to suggest that this Bible will not travel well.  Its best use would be a reference in your study.  I would certainly test any pen or highlighter on one of the blank pages or in a margin that is clear before using them on this book.

If you are looking for a good reference to expand your Bible Study, this would be a good selection.  You can get this book from BibleGateway here or from Amazon here.  If you choose to purchase this from Amazon, Entrusting Truth will receive a small part of your purchase as a donation from Amazon.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Review of the NASB Adventure Bible

20210628 Review of the NASB Adventure Bible
Since this blog is a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I am asked to review and provided with free Bibles and Books to review.  The latest request was to review the NASB Adventure Bible, and I am both happy and eager to do so.

The first Bible I bought after I trusted Christ was a NASB.  That was in the summer of 1973.  I still have that Bible.  It has been rebound twice and needs yet another trip to the bindery to touch up the work that was done the last time.  In the early 80’s I began studying Greek and Hebrew at Western Kentucky University.  I continued that study at Dallas Theological Seminary beginning in 1987.  As a result of that study, I have translated all the New Testament from Greek to English.  I share that because I have found that the NASB is the closest version, speaking now primarily of the 1971 version, to what I have discovered as I translated the New Testament.

So, it may be needless to state, I am a fan of the NASB, at least the 1971, 1977, and 1995 versions.  I have not evaluated the 2020 version yet.  The Adventure Bible is based on the 1995 text.  I use that text in my personal study.  While, as I stated above, I have found the NASB text close to the original, it is always a good idea to compare English translations.  Differences in the renderings can alert you to issues in the original that may require further investigation.


There are several features in the Adventure Bible that will help a young person learn to study and fall in love with the Bible.  The most obvious, at first glance, is the 5 full color, four page inserts in the Bible, these inserts contain information about the Bible that is presented in a creative way aimed at engaging a child or young reader in an activity that will cause them to process the content of the Bible.  For example the third has a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13 to help the reader understand love, the two page middle of this section has a two week reading plan on Jesus life and a list of passages of what Jesus taught on several topics of interest to children, and finally on the fourth page of the section, a list of famous children of the Bible and the books, chapters, and verses where they can be found.

Do not skip the Welcome pages, it explains the other helpful features of this Bible:

  • Words to Treasure: This feature points out key passages in the Bible.  They are highlighted for the reader with the suggestion to memorize the passage.
  • Did you know?  Points out interesting facts about the Bible.
  • Life in Bible Times:  Shares details about what it was like to live in the time of the characters in the Bible.
  • People in Bible Times:  Highlights many of the people of the Bible and points out interesting facts about their lives.
  • Live it:  Suggests ways to apply what the readers has just read.  This may be the most important feature of this version.  We are not given the Bible to make us smarter or to help us win a Bible trivia challenge.  It is given so that we can know God and fall more deeply in love with Him, thus having our lives transformed in and through that relationship.  This section helps one to do just that.
  • Book introductions:  In front of each book of the Bible there is a short introduction that answers the who, what, where, why, wherefore, questions in short sentences.  The introductions are not long and do not overly communicate in that the reader will not be prevented from learning much about the book from simply reading it.

Finally there are in the back of the book:

  • Subject Index: This is an index of topics that the student may want to pursue.  Rather than give passages it gives the page numbers on which one of the features above deals with the topic.
  • Activities: This was missing in my copy.  I reached out to the publisher through Bible Gateway and was told that this index which will be in subsequent printings, will function much like the Subject index.  In this case it will give the page numbers for suggestions about activities like flash cards which is mentioned in association with 1 Peter 2:9 – 12.  This again, is a feature that aligns with the purpose of the Bible that we learn to apply what it tells us
  • Dictionary Concordance – this gives a short definition of a term and then some places in the Bible it is used.
  • Maps:  There is an adequate if not extensive set of maps in the back of the Book


If you are looking for a first Bible for a new reader.  This is a good, make that excellent, option.  Both the base translation and the features are excellent, and the features do not distract from the most important thing, the text of the Bible.  Zondervan has done good work with this.

As validation, my daughter walked in my office while I was working on this review and remarked that she had done research for a kids Bible and has concluded that the NASB Adventure option was the best for her four kids.  

You can get the Adventure Bible here, or here, note that a small percentage of your purchase will be contributed to Entrusting Truth.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Review of Verse Mapping

NIV Verse Mapping Bible

From time to time, because my blog is a member of the Bible Gateway Blogger Grid, I am provided with free Bibles and Books about the Bible to review.  Recently I was asked to review Kristy Cambron’s Verse Mapping Bible Study Journal, the Verse Mapping Bible, and the Verse Mapping Bible for Girls.

NIV Verse Mapping
Bible for Girls

Similar to Verse Analysis

The covers of all three items suggest that this method of study was developed by Kristy Cambron.  While the layout is perhaps new, the elements of the study closely resemble the Verse Analysis Study to which I was introduced in 1973 during Undergraduate Pilot Training in the Air Force.  I use verse analysis in my personal study and in the seminars I lead on Bible study.  Further, have written about that study in my blog about thirteen times; the first was the thirteenth post I ever wrote.  That post links to the Entrusting Truth website which challenges the visitor to do the study and has a link to download the form I use.  That study has eight steps, Kristy’s Study is five steps.  

Though Verse Mapping is like verse analysis, the presentation is probably more appealing and there is one particular step that I really like and have also suggested to anyone who has been in my seminars.  In fact, that step is the reason that I will heartily recommend this study method, as well as the Bibles that are associated even though they are NIV, of which if you have read any of my reviews of the NIV study Bibles you will know that I am not a fan.

Verse Mapping Bible Study

Common Content
All three of the publications have instructions on how to verse map.  The Bibles have two pages at the front of the Book.  The Journal has a very helpful and detailed 14 page instruction and examples starting on page 5.  

[Note, One Challenge: The last sentence on page 13 of the Journal is either a typo, very confusing, or simply wrong.  The sentence as published says, “If a Greek word was used in one translation and not another…find out why.”  In my office I have a bunch of Bibles, say 20ish; on my computer, I have 20+ more, none of which, whether version, translation, or paraphrase, have any Greek words in them.  They are all in English, Spanish, French, or Arabic.  I have contacted the person at Bible Gateway who sent me the books about this.  He forwarded my comments to Kristy’s editor, she contacted me and told me that she had talked to Kristy and they were going to recast the sentence to explain Kristy’s point more accurately.  I think I know what she meant, but I cannot be sure.  I have held off on writing this review in hopes of hearing how this is resolved.  As yet, I have not heard.  However, the spirit of what is being suggested is good.  I will touch on that later in this review.]

The Verse Mapping Bible is top
The Verse Mapping Bible 
for Girls is bottom
The content is identical and the 
page number is even the same.

The Bibles
The Verse Mapping Bibles are virtually identical.  They are, as stated above, the NIV.  They are bare bones except that there are 350 verse maps in each of the Bibles as well as 70 blank ones.  Pages either have a fully, partially, or blank verse map, or simply text with a column next to the edge of the page for notes.  The layout is good, and the text is easy to read.  I originally found it odd that there were no cross references in the Bibles.  However, the addition of 420 partially complete or blank verse maps essentially added 420 pages to the book.  If the publisher had added cross references, it would have made the work unwieldy.  The student will need to use a concordance or a bible program such as those referred to in the Journal’s resource section to find cross references.

The Journal
The Journal has 60 blank maps for you to use.  Both have a topical index that may help you find verses to map.  There is also a Reference and Resource Guide in the back of the journal that those starting this type of study will find extremely helpful.

Providing a Bible Study Journal is a great idea.  All of us suffer from the reality of forgetting what we have studied.  Having these maps in one place to review is a good way to keep track of what the Lord has been teaching us in our study.

The Method
The method is very good.  The best part of the method, the part that mitigates the promotion of the NIV, is step 2, design.  In that step one is to compare the verse one is mapping in 2 – 4 other English versions or translations (for some help on why there are differences in versions and translations read the three blog posts I wrote on this starting here).  This is really a necessary step for any analysis of a verse in an English Bible, especially if you one does not have access to the original languages.  Comparing the texts, may point out differences in the way the Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic is translated by the version’s committee or the individual making the translation.  It will also highlight things that you may need to consider as you look at the original languages.  The author gives the student suggestions on how to examine the originals both in the 14-page overview of the method in the Journal and in the Verse Mapping Reference and Resource Guide on page 137 of the Journal.  The suggestions are concise and good.

Review of Verse Mapping
Blank Verse Map.  Note you work from top right to bottom left

This is a very good method from which any believer would benefit.  Either one of the Bibles and the Journal as a set would be an excellent investment.  My sense is that if one engages with the method their hunger for more will increase.  That is a good thing.  

There are two things I would suggest adding.  One is looking at other passages that support the passage you are mapping.  Thus, the reference to concordances and other resources above, as well as using the topical index in the Bibles.  The second, would be for the student to add a personal application to the outcome.  Prof, Howard Hendricks, always said that if we haven’t applied what we have studied, we haven’t really studied (that was a paraphrase).

Bottom line, I would heartily recommend this method to anyone.  In fact, I am going to show it to some of my grandchildren when they are old enough to engage with it.

You can get the NIV Verse Mapping Bible here, The Girls version here, and the Journal here.