I recently wrote a column discussing my fondness for the “New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge” bible study book. My original copy of the “Treasury of Scripture Knowledge” had bit the dust and I searched high and low for this book before finally locating a copy online at a used bookstore. Since receiving it, I’ve been quite happy with my purchase.
In my search for the NTSK as it’s called in shorthand, I discovered the reason for my problems locating a copy. A new guide had been published by Jerome Smith that replaced the NTSK. This new book is called “Nelson’s Cross Reference Guide to the Bible” and it features many of the same ideas that Smith incorporated into the updated NTSK a few years back.
After thinking a while, I decided to order a copy of the new book and compare it to the NTSK. Of course, I had to order this book because no Christian bookstore I know of had it in stock because of it’s depth. This certainly would be no best-seller in today’s Christian book climate.
The first thing I noticed about Nelson’s new guide was that it was not as cumbersome as the NTSK. In fact, it’s about a third smaller in thinkness and considerably lighter with it’s very thin pages. It fits easily in my messenger bag and is designed to make the cross reference system in the NTSK a bit easier to manage. In the introduction, Smith gives a full explanation of the symbols used in the book and how the train of thought chain references can be used to follow a specific subject through scripture ala the Thompson chain reference system. Personally, after using both Thompson and Smith’s systems, I prefer Smith’s.
The symbols are less in the new volume than in the NTSK. It appears in putting this new volume together, Smith has shaved some references and some symbols to make the book easier to manage. This was not a problem for me with the NTSK given it’s depth of knowledge. For the average layman though, I can see this as a benefit. The NTSK can be intimidating for the new bible student and I believe Smith tried to put together the best of both worlds in this revision.
Another factor most likely is that books of this nature just don’t sell as much as they used to. With the price of many bible software programs dropping, the NTSK is a resource that has been computerized and included on many software packages so many don’t have a need for such a large book. As I stated before, I use technology often but in this case, I enjoy relaxing at a coffee shop and skimming the pages while reading my bible. It helps me to organize my thoughts.
The new guide also keeps the NTSK layout of putting the bible books together just as they appear in scripture. It’s easy to follow the thoughts by doing this since you can simply look up a passage just as you would in a bible and then follow the cross reference chain outlined in the pages. The symbols used in the new version also give you the option to follow a subject rather than just the though in the scripture passage. All in all, the best parts of the NTSK have been kept in Nelson’s new guide.
So what do I think? I will continue to use the NTSK for more in depth studies since the symbol system in so complex and complete. The new guide, with it’s lighter weight and portability, will travel with me more than the old guide will. For now, I can see myself using both but if I was recommending one to a layman in my church, I would recommend they purchase the new guide and master it first before trying to find a used copy of the NTSK. I would also recommend that anyone still using the old TSK from the 19th century update to one of these two works. Having used all three, I can see the progression of improvement as the newer volumes were developed.