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Q38 : Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible

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Q38 : Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible

You mention that the Thompson Chain Reference Bible NKJV doesn't have "cross referencing" (question #24) and yet looking over mine it does.

I was very concerned at first, as I just bought one in Morocco leather (over $100) and I use cross referencing frequently. But examining this version I was happy to see the cross referencing was still there.

Could you please explain what you meant?

A38 : by Tony Garland

My statement in responding to question #24a:

When adapting the NKJV text for use in the Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible, the extensive set of cross references which normally accompany the NKJV text in other study bibles has been omitted from the Thompson Chain-Reference version.

is true, but I can appreciate from your inquiry that I need to clarify it a bit. The extensive set of cross-references which normally accompany the NKJV text, some 60,000+, have indeed been omitted from the Thompson version, at least the one I own and every other bookstore copy I've looked at.

By "cross-references," I meant parallel passage cross-references, not topical chains for which the Thompson Chain-Reference is deservedly famous. For example, when studying at Revelation 12:1, we would expect a really good study Bible to point us to Genesis 37:9. These sorts of address cross-references have great advantage as they allow a tremendous amount of unbiased self-study to be done using a minimum of additional page material. The reader can compare Revelation 12:1 with Genesis 37:9, noting that the sun, moon, and twelve stars, Joseph being the twelfth, appear in both passages and decide whether or not there is an intended allusion by the Holy Spirit to Israel. (I believe there is.) All this, without introducing paragraphs of commentary or biasing the reader. The example I just gave, of listing Gen. 37:9 at Rev. 12:1, is not one of the standard NKJV cross-references, but is mentioned in the accompanying commentary of the MacArthur NKJV Study Bible.

This is the sort of cross-referencing which the Thompson Chain-Reference version of the NKJV has largely eliminated. This is not to say that the Thompson Chain-Reference bible has no parallel passage cross references whatsoever—it does. But the number and quality of the cross-references is substantially inferior to what normally accompanies a NKJV study Bible.

Unless the Thompson version of the NKJV has changed recently, you will find only a few parallel passages per page—compared with many, many more for the others. This fact, coupled with my other observations (covenant theology orientation, skant coverage of prophetic passages) mean that I personally do not use this Bible—as beautifully manufactured as it is—as my primary study Bible.

For example, if we look at Genesis 1, the Thompson Chain-Reference NKJV Bible has 19 address cross-references. These are the cross-references marked with "p.p" indicating "parallel passage." There are other topical cross-references, but I am discussing purely parallel passages here. By way of comparison the MacArthur NKJV Study Bible has 86 in the Bible text itself and many more in the associated commentary. This is not the entire story, of course, because the Thompson Chain-Reference has topical chains which the other Bibles do not. However, the topical chains are often of a very general nature (e.g., "Omnipotence" and do not deal with key issues in the immediate context, or are heavily flavored by a covenant theology view. As but one example, take a look in the alphabetical index under "Covenant." The study aid lists: (1) Everlasting; (2) Divine; (3) Human with God; (4) Between People; (5) New. This is a good start, but notice absolutely no mention of "Noahic," "Abrahamic," "Davidic," "Land." In other words, we get a very general treatment of the concept of covenant, but the study aid completely misses the significance of the different key covenants with particular people (except for the New Covenant which is almost impossible to ignore).1

I do think the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, especially the top-end model—is one of the most beautifully made, high quality Bible products available today. I also think that the topical studies and topical links in the appendices are excellent and well worth the price of the Bible on their own merit—apart from the loss of significant numbers of address cross-references.

The lack of parallel passage cross references can more than be made up for by purchasing the New Treasury of Scripture Knowledgeb (more recently titled Nelson's Cross Reference Guide to the Biblec) which far exceeds any other cross-reference resource available anywhere—containing an order-of-magnitude more cross-references for fruitful study than the 60,000+ normally appearing in a NKJV Study Bible. This study resource is highly underused. Next to the text of Scripture and a concordance, I would place it as the third most valuable book in the world. It can be a bit daunting to become familiar with, but the riches one can mine from it —together with a good Bible translation—are simply amazing.

If your Thompson Chain-Reference NKJV Bible contains many more address cross-references to parallel passages than what I cite above, then perhaps they have made a change and I will have to check the newest editions out. But when I last checked, only a few months ago, this was the situation.


1 Although the MacArthur Study Bible does a reasonable job with the covenants within the study notes, the topical index in the appendix also suffers from lack of precision in the area of covenants, much like the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible.


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