Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Recommendations on Editions of the King James Version

The first question to ask before you get a Bible is what translation you should use. For an article on that question, see An Orthodox Look at English Translations of the Bible. But if you want to get a copy of the King James Version, you have a lot of options. There are several factors to consider when you are considering which edition to buy: 1. the text itself (font size, paragraphing, etc), 2. the notes, 3. the appendices, 4. the binding, and 5. the cost. There are more options out there than would be practical to cover in one article, so I am going to focus on the options I would most recommend.

1. Cambridge New Paragraph Bible with the Apocrypha

The all around best text of the KJV, despite the font size (in my opinion), is the Cambridge New Paragraph Bible with the Apocrypha. This is one of only two edition of the KJV that include the deuterocanonical books that is currently in print. It uses modern spelling, punctuation and paragraphing, it has the original KJV margin notes, but no cross references. It is also only available in black text (i.e., no red letter editions).

You can get it in a hard back version (for about $38); or you can get in a nice calfskin cover (for about $118). The shortcoming of this text is that it is printed in an 8.5 point font. You can still get the text in a 10 point font in calfskin if you contact Cambridge directly, but this is the original edition which had a few fairly minor typos that were corrected in the current edition. If you are interested in that text, click here for details. These editions have no appendices, maps, or a concordance, but it does have the full dedicatory epistle to King James, as well as the introduction of the translators to the readers (which was included in the original editions of the KJV, but which is normally omitted in most editions currently available). This edition is, I believe, especially useful when you are teaching your children to read, because the spelling, punctuation, and the layout of the text will not throw them (see How to teach your children to read and understand the King James Version of the Bible).

A review of the hardback edition of the Cambridge New Paragraph Bible

An edition that is somewhat similar, but which does not include the deuterocanonical books, or have the revised spelling or punctuation, but which is laid out in modern paragraph format, is the Cambridge Clarion KJV. It is in an 8.75 point font, and has a "Readers Companion", which has a number of useful features. Click here for a video review.

2. Cambridge Cameo KJV with Apocrypha

If you don't mind 8 point font, the Cambridge Cameo with Apocrypha has the advantage of having the full margin notes and cross references throughout the text, including the deuterocanonical books. It is available in calfskin currently for about $133.00. How long it will be available is unclear, because it is listed as being out of stock on several websites, including Cambridge. This text is the traditional Cambridge KJV text with double columns and center column references.

Review of the Cambridge Cameo KJV with Apocrypha

3. The Cambridge Turquoise

There are a number of other Cambridge editions to consider, but what I like about the Turquoise is that it has the traditional Cambridge KJV text, with the original KJV margin notes, and standard Cambridge Cross references. It has maps and a concordance in the back, and the dedicatory epistle and translators introduction to the reader at the beginning. And what I like best about this particular edition is that it is in 11 point font, which is very easy on the eyes. It does not include the deuterocanonical books, but the margin cross references frequently reference them. You can get either a black text only, or a red letter edition.

You can get this in a top of the line goatskin cover from Cambridge for around $200, or a calfskin for about $140. However, if you want the same text from another source, you can save money by getting it from Church Bible Publishers in a calfskin cover, for $75. Cambridge Bibles are printed on the best paper, and are bound very well, and so the quality from them is a little bit better, but Church Bible Publishers produce very high quality Bibles as well, and because this edition is public domain, it is essentially identical to the Cambridge edition between the covers, and is about half the price. Church Bible Publishers is a non-profit ministry, and so they sell their Bibles at close to the actual costs of production.

A review of the Cambridge Turquoise Reference Bible

This review compares the Cambridge Turquoise and the Church Bible Publishers Turquoise

Update: Church Bible Publishers has come out with a new edition of their Turquoise KJV that increased the font to 12 point. It is still $75.

4. The Westminster Reference Bible

The Westminster Reference Bible is produced by the Trinitarian Bible Society, which like Church Bible Publishers, is a non-profit ministry. This edition is a fairly recent computer setting, and so the font is very crisp and clear. You can get it in a large print 11.8 point font (which is what I would recommend), in a mid-size 9.6 point font, or a compact 7.3 point font. The large print text comes in a proportionately large size Bible, but personally I like it -- though some people do find in a bit unwieldy. If you don't mind the smaller size fonts, the other editions are closer to typical bibles in size. This edition has the original KJV margin notes, and the most extensive cross references of any edition of the KJV. It also provides definitions in the margins of any obscure words, or words that have change in meaning since the KJV was translated. It has 4 columns per page, and so the reference columns are specific to a text column, and so it is easy to see which references go with which text. It does not include the deuterocanonical books, and there is no red letter option, but it does have color maps. You can get the large print edition in a calfskin cover for about $81.00.The mid-size is very manageable, and readable, it sells in the calfskin cover for about $70.00. You can also get it in large print hardback for about $27; and the mid-size hardback for $20. The mid-size edition has a concordance, but the larger and smaller sizes do not. This Bible also has an introduction which explains how the column references work (which most bibles do not), and each chapter has a chapter summary at the beginning, as did the original King James version. Aside from the fact that it does not have the deuterocanonical books, this edition has a lot to recommend it, and because it defines obscure words in the margins, even people who are not used to the KJV text could start reading this text and do so without a great deal of difficulty.

Review of the Large Print Westminster KJV

5. The Thomas Nelson Premier KJV

If you want a goatskin Bible, but you don't want to pay $200 to get one, this is a great option. It does not have the deuterocanonical books, the original KJV margin notes, or the translator's introduction to the reader, but it is in a new comfort print typeface, and in 12 point font, which is very easy on the eyes. It has a good concordance. It also defines obscure words and phrases in the margin notes... and does so a bit more thoroughly than the Westminster does, though I often find the margin notes explain words and phrases that are not really obscure to me; however, this is also a text that even someone unfamiliar with the KJV could begin reading without difficulty, as a result. The quality of the binding is amazing, and it feels very good in the hand when you read it. You can get it from Christian Book Distributors for $85.49, which is amazingly cheap, given the quality of the text and binding. Because they use red ink for verse numbers, and book titles, there is no version of this with the words of Christ in red.

Review of the Thomas Nelson Premier KJV

6. Giant Print KJV

If you need a larger font than the editions above offer, Local Church Bible Publishers (yet another non-profit ministry), publishes an edition in an 18 point font, with a fairly bold text. It does not have the deuterocanonical books, or much else other than the text itself, but it is nicely bound in cowhide, and is a red-letter edition. It is available for $72 dollars.

Local Church Bible Publishers Giant Print KJV

7. Bi-Lingual Editions of the KJV

There are many bi-lingual editions that include the KJV. For example, if you want a KJV with a parallel Russian Synodal Bible, you can get it from Amazon for $45.95. You can get a parallel KJV Reina Valera Bible from a number of sources. And this is probably true of most major languages.

8. Deuterocanonical Texts

One solution to the problem of KJV editions that lack them is to buy a copy of "The Rest of the Old Testament," By Deacon Peter Gardner, as a supplementary text. This text cost  is 45.00 in hardback, $14.95 for the paperback edition.


If you are interested in getting a Bible imprinted with a name, either for yourself or as a gift, Church Bible PublishersChristian Book Distributors, and EvangelicalBible.com all offer that as an option. I think this is especially a good idea for parents when giving a good quality Bible to their children when they reach young adulthood. It is something they will keep for the rest of their lives, and if you teach them well, they will use it too.