Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

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King James edition of the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible. Thompson chain.jpg
King James edition of the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible.

The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible is a Christian study Bible published by the Kirkbride Bible Company.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Study Bible

A study Bible is an edition of the Bible prepared for use by a serious student of the Bible. It provides scholarly information designed to help the reader gain a better understanding of and context for the text.



The Thompson Chain-Reference system was devised by its namesake, Dr. Frank C. Thompson, in the early 1900s, but the original work was started in 1890. Dr. Frank Charles Thompson was born in 1858, in Elmira, New York, and was ordained in 1879. His wife was Laura Boughton Thompson. He began work on the system because of his dissatisfaction with the reference Bibles that were then available to preachers:

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New York is a state located in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from its city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State (NYS).

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. In 1890, Dr. Thompson began the work he would continue for the rest of his life. He completed the "thought suggestions" opposite the verses throughout the Bible. These are what became the "chain-links" that are the heart of the Thompson system. Some of the men in Dr. Thompson's church saw his Bible and told him this would be a great help to them in their Bible study too. They encouraged Dr. Thompson to have his Bible, with marginal references, published so that everyone could enjoy the blessing of this helpful study tool. [1]

The first version of Thompson's study Bible was published in 1908 by the Methodists Book Concern of Dobbs Ferry, New York. Five years later, in 1913, Dr. Thompson was joined by B. B. Kirkbride, of Indianapolis, Indiana. The two men formed the Kirkbride Bible Company, in order to further improve and distribute Thompson's work.

Indianapolis State capital and consolidated city-county in the United States

Indianapolis, often shortened to Indy, is the state capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana and the seat of Marion County. According to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the consolidated population of Indianapolis and Marion County was 872,680. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-autonomous municipalities in Marion County, was 863,002. It is the 17th most populous city in the U.S. The Indianapolis metropolitan area is the 34th most populous metropolitan statistical area in the U.S., with 2,028,614 residents. Its combined statistical area ranks 27th, with a population of 2,411,086. Indianapolis covers 368 square miles (950 km2), making it the 16th largest city by land area in the U.S.

The original Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, as well as several subsequent versions, were based on the King James Bible. Currently, editions based on the King James Version, New King James Version, New International Version (1978 version; now out of print), New American Standard Bible (1977 version) and English Standard Version [2] are available, as well as electronic versions that incorporate other features.

King James Version 1611 English translation of the Christian Bible

The King James Version (KJV), also known as the King James Bible (KJB) or simply the Authorized Version (AV), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, begun in 1604 and completed as well as published in 1611 under the sponsorship of James VI and I. The books of the King James Version include the 39 books of the Old Testament, an intertestamental section containing 14 books of the Apocrypha, and the 27 books of the New Testament. Noted for its "majesty of style", the King James Version has been described as one of the most important books in English culture and a driving force in the shaping of the English-speaking world.

New King James Version English translation of the Bible first published in 1982 by Thomas Nelson

The New King James Version (NKJV) is an English translation of the Bible first published in 1982 by Thomas Nelson. The New Testament was published in 1979, the Psalms in 1980, and the full Bible in 1982. It took seven years to complete. The anglicized edition was originally known as the Revised Authorized Version, but the NKJV title is now used universally.

<i>New International Version</i> English translation of the Bible

The New International Version (NIV) is an English translation of the Bible first published in 1978 by Biblica. The NIV was published to meet the need for a modern translation done by Bible scholars using the earliest, highest quality manuscripts available. Of equal importance was that the Bible be expressed in broadly understood modern English.

As of 2006, there have been more than four million Thompson Chain-Reference Bibles sold.[ citation needed ]


The heart of the Thompson Chain-Reference system is Thompson's "chain topics". The system incorporates over 4,000 such chains. As an example, the entry for Amalek says: [3]

124AMALEK, a descendant of Esau, Ge 36:12, Ex 17:8, Dt 25:17, 1Sa 15:3, 28:18, 2Sa 1:1, 1Ch 4:43.

Genesis 36:12 has the following margin note:

124 Amalek, Ex 17:8

The "chain" continues in Exodus 17:8 which has this margin note:

124 Amalek, Dt 25:17

and so on, until 1 Chronicles 4:43 which has the margin note:

124 Amalek ‡

indicating the end of the chain. Other chains are more complex. Chain topic 3724, for example, concerns the general topic of unity:

(A) UNITY of Believers.
3724—(1) In Christ.
  Ro 12:5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
  1Co 10:17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1Co 12:12)
  See Saints' Fellowship.1325

This topic is divided into the major subtopics of "UNITY of Believers", "COOPERATION", and "STRIFE", each of which is divided into further topics. The general section contains 12 individual chains, some of considerable size. Many also incorporate references to chains treated elsewhere, such as the reference to Saints' Fellowship (chain 1325). The chain numbers feature prominently in the Thompson system, and the chain topics are listed in numerical order.

Comprehensive Bible assistance

In addition to the chain topics, the Thompson Chain-Reference Bible includes a number of other aids to Bible study:

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  1. "The Thompson Chain-Reference Story". Kirkbride Bible Company. Retrieved 2007-11-28.
  2. Brown, Randy A. (September 7, 2016). "ESV Thompson Chain-Reference Bible Available for Pre-Order". Bible Buying Guide. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  3. The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible (New International Version ed.). B.B. Kirkbride Bible Company. 1983.