The search for that perfect Bible. What are the most common Bible features available today? (Part 1, Covers)

DSCN3175It is difficult to find that perfect Bible, but this is where many of us start out. When you finally decide to get a high quality Bible, you want to get all of the features you like in one edition. The problem is that rarely is there one Bible that will satisfy all of your requirements. In this article we are going to look at some of these features, a few of the pros and cons of the features, and a little basic Bible design and layout. Hopefully this will help you make an informed purchase, and keep you from having unrealistic expectations.

I know many people ooh and ah over floppy, natural hide, edge lined covers, but these aren’t always the best Bibles to have. There are also a bunch of folks who have no idea what the difference is between bonded leather, genuine leather, and calf skin leather. So, let’s start off by learning about covers. After all, it is the first part of the Bible a person sees and touches.

The least expensive covers are equivalent to those you’d find on a paperback book. Not much to know here. Some of the pros are that they are inexpensive to mass produce. Usually you find these covers on evangelism Bibles. Perhaps you’ve been handed a Bible with a paperback cover? They are only a couple of bucks to buy, and they get the job done. The biggest con is that they are not durable. They tear and dog-ear very easily.

Hardback covers are next. These types of covers are common and inexpensive like the paperback covers. Everyone should be familiar with them. They are a cardboard sheet known as a book board, that is underneath a paper, cloth, or hide cover. In the past these were often made out of wood. They provide rigidity to the text block so the book can be stored standing on its edge. They also support the pages while you hold them. One of the problems with a rigid board is that if you drop it on a corner it will deform and stay that way. If you do store it on a shelf, as you take off the shelf, and replace it on the shelf, the edge will become worn. Also the text blocks tend to pull away from the book boards over time and require repair.

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Synthetic covers are the next step up. They offer a wide range of appearances and styles. They are also inexpensive to make. They can be made to simulate leather or just about anything else you might cover a book with. They can be made with various designs in them making them very attractive compared to paperback and hardback Bibles. The covers don’t stand up to skin oils, sunlight, and other environmental hazards like being scratched or scraped when compared to the durability of a good quality hide cover. They also lack the smell and texture of real leather.

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Bonded leather used to be one of the most common inexpensive covers before the rise of synthetic covers. I would just like to say, there are no pros to bonded leather… Ok fine, maybe they were not as expensive as a genuine leather cover, but come on! They are basically leather sawdust and scraps, bonded together with adhesive and dye, and then they have a fake leather grain stamped into them. They are generally not very flexible either. They are more durable than paper or had back. They are even more scratch and scuff resistant than synthetic covers, but when the surface is compromised, the oils and salts from your skin will sink in and make the damage worse. It will swell, and flake apart where the crease or cut is. There is a new bonded leather called Cromwell bonded leather that is supposed to be a very durable, long lasting bonded leather. I’ve just never liked the feel or smell of the bonded leather covers.

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Now for the genuine leather covers, but wait, all is not as it seems! You might think that if it is labeled, “Genuine Leather” that it is cow leather, but you’d be wrong! Oh no my friends, don’t be deceived by this clever marketing. Many of the bibles sold in the $40-$80 range listed as genuine leather are actually… pig skin leather. Yep, pig skin leather is much less expensive than cowhide leather. It is split thinner, it is colored, and gets a grain stamped into it, and it is shiny like plastic, and not that flexible. These covers are pretty tough though. I have to give that to them. They don’t smell as good as cowhide leather either due to all the processing they go through. Because the pig skin is so tough they can use very very thin splits of it.

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Just under the premium category of covers are the calfsplit leather, French Morocco leather, and genuine cowhide leather covers. There is not a market standard on this so there is quite a bit of variance from publisher to publisher. For instance a cowhide leather cover from TBS feels like the French Morocco leather from Cambridge. Basically they take the section under the top grain and stamp a grain pattern into it. It is stiffer and more fibrous, but still smells like cowhide leather because it is. You get all of the great durability of a good cowhide leather cover at a lower price. Honestly this is probably the lowest quality leather I would want on a Bible. All of the others I mentioned before this I would not buy for myself. I expect a Bible to be something I can hand down to my kids and hopefully my grandkids. I won’t buy anything under this. I recommend shopping calfsplit/genuine cowhide and above. French Morocco leather doesn’t necessarily have to be from a cow either. It is also split thinner typically than calfsplit. Don’t get French Morocco mixed up with Moroccan either. Moroccan leather is much higher quality goatskins from Nigeria that are imported and finished in Europe.

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The next class of covers is the premium range. It includes top grain cowhide, calf hide, Vachetta calfskin, Buttero calfskin, and goatskin. There are other hides that are available from rebinders and are occasionally available from publishers. I am not going to address those as they are not commonly available from mass produced Bibles from major publishers.

The top grain cowhides can have natural grain, they can be ironed flat to reduce the grain, they are generally tough and supple, which is a good combination. Calfskin is even softer because it is taken from well, young cows. It is also a bit thinner. It isn’t as resistant to scratches and scuffs as the top grain cowhide. All of these leathers take color during processing very well.  Goatskin covers usually have a nicely pebbled grain to them making them aesthetically pleasing.  They can be dyed in a wide range of colors, are supple, durable, and more expensive.  You don’t get as many covers out of a goat hide.  Goats are smaller than cows 🙂   

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Keep in mind this is just about covers.  The next article will be about the difference between case bound and edge lined Bibles.  Thanks again for reading, and if you haven’t already make sure to follow my blog.  God bless!

A Review of Holman’s CSB (Christian Standard Bible) Large Print UltraThin Reference Bible, in Black Goatskin Leather.

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I know many of you are waiting out there to see what this revision of the H.C.S.B. is all about.  It isn’t a formal equivalent, it isn’t a dynamic equivalent.  F.Y.I. Holman calls it an optimal translation.  Here is an excerpt from their site, “The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a highly trustworthy, faithful translation that is proven to be the optimal blend of accuracy and readability. It’s as literal to the original as possible without sacrificing clarity. The CSB is poised to become the translation that pastors rely on and Bible readers turn to again and again to read and to share with others.”

If you are like me, you might be wondering what is the difference between the two.  Here is another excerpt from their site, ” The Christian Standard Bible is a revision of the HCSB, updating translation and word choices in order to optimize both fidelity to the original languages and clarity for a modern audience. The Translation Oversight Committee, co-chaired by Drs. Tom Schreiner and David Allen, incorporated advances in biblical scholarship and input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers to sharpen both accuracy and readability.”

The main reasons I didn’t use the H.C.S.B. for my reading and study, is that it seemed obvious when the translation switched between the two translation philosophies.  It was a continuity and flow problem.  I’m glad to say, that seems to have been dealt with in this revision.  The C.S.B. reads much better.  It is more of a seamless blend of the philosophies.  As far as being an optimal translation…  I guess that depends on your opinion.  I’ve not needed to have a dynamic equivalent, nor have I needed to have sections of the Bible to be translated as a dynamic equivalent.  I’m a man of average intelligence.  I have a basic education.  If I come across a difficult passage, I read it again.  If I don’t know the meaning of a word, I look it up.  I think we should endeavor to become better students, rather than changing our translation philosophy to make the Bible simpler.

That being said, if I had to pick a Bible that wasn’t strictly a formal equivalent translation, this would be it.  For years I have sat by and watched the N.I.V. become a gender neutral mess.  The N.L.T. in my opinion is so dumbed down, it has lost the majesty of God’s word.  Don’t even get me started on The Message, Passion, or the Voice.  As far as I am concerned, if you have a copy of the Voice, you should burn it so no one else can be poisoned by it’s lies. (I have some pretty strong opinions.)  So what’s a person supposed to do if they want a translation that is a bit more accessible than the N.A.S.B. you might ask?  In my opinion, get a C.S.B.  It is everything the NIV used to be.  It is accurate, and accessible.  It stays true to the intent of the author (God) and retains the gender contexts of the Hebrew and Greek texts without imposing a cultural hermeneutic on them.

I hope you’ll give it a try.  Let’s take a look at the physical attributes of the Bible I was sent for review.  Keep in mind that it is an advance copy, so some details might be different by the time this actually is published and sold.

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The Bible arrived packaged in a padded envelope.  The envelope had some tears in it by the time it made it to me.  The retail, two piece box also had a dent in it.  The Bible inside was undamaged and received in new condition.

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This Bible is covered in an extremely soft and smooth goatskin leather.  The grain is very understated.  I’ve heard others refer to the goatskin as garment grade.  I don’t know how true that is, but I could see how that would be so.

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The inner liner is a type of bonded leather.  I’m not sure if it is Cromwell or not.  I asked someone from Holman.  When I find out I’ll post an update.  Since this is an edge lined volume, it is very flexible and floppy.  The cover can be rolled up.

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This is an edge lined binding.  The bonded leather is  glued to the text block, and then a piece of vinyl covered paper is glued over that.  There is a piece of binding tape that reinforces the hinge.  This is good and bad.  It is good because it will make the binding more durable.  It is bad, because it hinders the ability of the Bible to be opened flat in the first few pages and the last few pages.  Sometimes you’ll see a more narrow strip of binding tape, that allows the first pages to open more easily. Some don’t even use the tape. With a bonded leather inner liner it is good that they did. This is still an extremely flexible and floppy Bible.

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One feature I hope they keep in the production model is the perimeter stitching in red.  I think it makes a striking addition to the aesthetic appeal of this Bible.  The stitching on the front is colored black.  On the inside it is red.

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I think the silver page edge gilt was the right decision instead of gold, considering the bold red thread and smooth black cover.  They work together. The head and foot bands are a brown color, and don’t really pop. It is easy to miss them. I would recommend red and black colored for the bands to go along with the color scheme.
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The spine is also ornamented with three spine hubs, and the words, “Holy Bible, Christian Standard Bible, and Holman” hot stamped in silver letters.  The area close to the head is left empty.  As one of my fellow reviewers mentioned, it seems a bit unbalanced.  We will see what they do with it in the final version they bring to market.

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Even though this Bible is printed in China, the quality of the paper and printing is very good.
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I found the 9.5 pt Bible Serif font to be inked uniformly, having sharp, clean edges, and contrasting nicely with the white paper.  The paper was opaque and line matching was employed. (line matching is when the text on the back side of the page is printed directly over the font on the front side of the page, so there is no background noise bleeding through the paper, otherwise known as text ghosting.)  The paper is 30 g.s.m. and rates a very good opacity of 84 with a brightness of 83.  This black letter edition is a double column layout, with center column references.  It will be familiar to Bible readers. 2K/DENMARK did fine work with the font and layout.  See for yourself how good it is.
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Here is a single page backlit so you can see how opaque it is.
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There is about a half inch in the margin for limited note taking.

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There are two above average ribbon markers.  The one for the Old Testament is black and the one for the New Testament is red.

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Did I mention how flexible this Bible is?  Due to the sewn spine and edge lined binding this thing is super supple, for my alliteration fans.  It does open nice and flat, it also can be easy to hold onto with how it can be bent.  Take a look.

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Among the features I already mentioned, here is a list from Holman’s product page, “…Features include: Smyth-sewn binding, Presentation page, Two-column text, Center-column cross-references, Topical subheadings, Black letter text, 9.5-point type, Concordance, Full-color maps, and more…”  I really like the maps 🙂

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Here is a picture of their robust cross reference system.

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Weights and measures.

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A respectable and useful concordance.

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and some well done maps.

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If you are in the market for a large print ultrathin reference Bible, I encourage you to give this one a look.  It has all of the features you could want.  It uses a translation that will speed you along in your studies.  It comes in at a reasonable price for the top line model and a very good value for the other editions.  You’d be hardpressed to find another one in this segment of the market with all of these features for this price.  I believe Holman has this edition set to sell for about $139.00 but I am sure sites like Christianbook.com will sell it at a deep discount.  Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible on my flickr site.  You can read more about the CSB translation on their site, www.csbible.com  You could also purchase a copy on Amazon.

 

ISBN: 9781462743223

Cambridge Pitt Minions, a Tale of Three Covers.

Comparison Review of Morocco, Calf Split, and Goatskin Leather Covered Pitt Minion NASB Bibles.

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I’m fortunate to have been sent review copies of the same Bible, covered in three types of leather that Cambridge uses. They have sent me three Cambridge Pitt Minions in NASB Bibles. One of them is covered in black Morocco leather, another in black calf split leather, and the last one is covered in brown goatskin leather.

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This review will depart from my other reviews in that I am not covering the same points over again. You can read about the Pitt Minion typeset and binding information here. Instead, I am going to compare the different types of leather covers. You can view the Cambridge page with information about their leathers here.
Here is their definition of what Morocco leather is, “Leather taken from a split hide – sheepskin, calf or cowhide. Slightly thinner than the other grades of leather and therefore relatively flexible and soft even when new. A French Morocco binding offers high-quality real leather at an economical price.” This is the cover material for the lowest priced Pitt Minion at approximately $60.00 available at online retailers.

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Here is their definition of what calf split leather is, “A superior grade to French Morocco leather, tanned to approach the quality and feel of full-grain calfskin leather.” This is the next step up from the Morocco leather and can be purchased for about $80.00 online.

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Finally, here is their definition of goatskin leather, “A beautiful and very resilient top-quality, natural grain leather. Traditionally known as ‘Morocco’ leather, it is strong yet supple and is used in the finest bindings.

The best goatskins for bookbinding come from an area of northern Nigeria where environmental conditions are ideal for producing hides with the necessary balance of strength and suppleness. Here they are partially tanned using the same vegetable materials and methods that have been used for several thousand years. Traditionally, they were transported by camel across the Sahara desert to merchants in Morocco (hence the term ‘Morocco leather’) from where they would be distributed throughout the ancient world.

Cambridge uses Nigerian goatskins finished in the United Kingdom for our top-of-the range bindings.”

I understand there can be some confusion when talking about cover materials. There really isn’t a standardized nomenclature. I hope this information clears it up for anyone with questions as to why the Morocco covers were more expensive than the calf split covers. I know I’ve been asked this question before. I’ve included plenty of pictures and a video to help you see as much of the differences for yourselves, but I have to tell you, only by handling these Bibles will you be able to appreciate the qualities of each one. All three are wonderful Bibles and offer specific benefits. The price of the Morocco covered Pitt Minion makes it exceedingly affordable. You get all of the great features of the Cambridge Pitt Minion text block, like the sewn binding, thin profile, compact size, complete Bible, clearly printed modern digital font, references, and red letter text. This cover has a bit of a glossy look to it and the grain is not pebbled. It is also quite a bit thinner than the other two. However, it is vastly superior to other Bibles on the market that advertise having, “genuine leather” covers. Many of the lower quality Bibles that claim to be genuine leather are covered in split pigskin leather with an artificial grain pressed into it. They almost look plastic and are very shiny. This Morocco cover is much better and the price has remained very affordable.

For just about $20.00 more you can get the calf split leather, again with all of the great Pitt Minion features, plus a more supple, thicker, leather with a deeper natural texture. The calf split is also less shiny or glossy than the Morocco cover. This gives it a much more tactilely pleasing feel in your hand. I’ve also noticed that it softens up quite well after it is broken in.

For about $100.00 you can acquire the Pitt Minion covered in goatskin leather.

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I know it seems like a lot of money, but when you pick one up you’ll understand why it is more. The goatskin covers have a finer pebbled grain that is soft to the touch. It is softer than the calf split or top grain leathers while remaining durable.

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If you have ever held a sheepskin leather Bible you would find that it is very supple, but susceptible to scratches and tears. The goatskin is great because it has the best features of both types of leather. It is soft and supple while remaining effective at protecting the text block. None of these three are edge lined so you won’t be doing any, “Bible yoga” with them. I wouldn’t recommend bending them that much regardless. Even if a Bible is flexible enough to bend like you might see some people do online, it isn’t a good idea.

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Over time it will loosen your binding too much and prematurely wear it out.
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No matter what your budget is you can find a Pitt Minion to fit and be assured that it will last long enough for your kids to enjoy if you treat it with respect.

Make sure to check out the rest of the pictures on the flickr page.

You can purchase these Bibles on Amazon, Christianbook, or Cambridge Press.

The NASB Pitt Minion Reference Edition NS446XR in Brown Goatskin Leather is the Best Compact NASB You Could Purchase.

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In my opinion this is the number one, of the top ten compact/ultrathin NASB’s you will find on the market today.  The top three are Cambridge Pitt Minions.  First place, goes to the goatskin leather.  Second place, to the calfsplit leather edition.  Third place goes to the edition covered in black French Morrocco leather.  Here is a picture of the brown goatskin Pitt with the black calfsplit one.  They are both gorgeous.

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I’ve reviewed Lockman Foundation Bibles. I’ve looked at cheaply constructed Zondervan’s. If R. L. Allan made a compact NASB, they would be the only serious competition on the market. That would only be true because Cambridge and R. L. Allan would be using the same printer and binder, the world famous Jongbloed of the Netherlands. They are the premier printer and binder of almost all the high quality Bibles available today. Chances are, if you have a luxury Bible it came from Jongbloed. It makes sense that the Cambridge Pitt Minions are the highest quality Bibles in this market niche. 

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The attention to detail and quality is what sets the Cambridge Pitt Minions apart. When you hear, “You get what you pay for.” Many times you disregard it as a sales pitch, but with Bibles it is usually quite true. I strongly urge you not to balk at the initial price. Consider how many cheaply made Bibles you will buy over the next sixty years of your life. This is assuming, of course, that you are a serious student of God’s word, and read it daily. Now, multiply the twenty to fifty dollars that you would spend on a glued together, poorly covered, mass produced Bible, times the number of replacements you would purchase of that sixty year period. Let’s arbitrarily say you’ll need to replace it 6 times, and that is a conservative estimate on my part. Thirty times six is one hundred and eighty dollars. That is less than the price of the top of the line Pitt Minion. Not to mention the amount of time and energy it will take to transfer your notes/highlights/underlines.

The Pitt minion can be handed down to your children and if taken care of I dare say their children. The Cambridge Pitt Minion comes with a lifetime warranty from Cambridge and I fully expect these Pitt Minions to outlast me. How loving would it be for you to hand down one of these to each of your Children with your personal highlights and underlines? They could read from the same Bible that you held lovingly in your hands each morning and remember how faithful you were. Your zeal for God and His word would be an inspiration to them.

My Pitt Minion arrived in a cardboard shipping box safe and sound.

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The retail box is a clamshell design and should be retained for storage.

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The first thing I noticed about this Pitt Minion when I removed it from the box was the brown goatskin leather cover. It has a simple elegant perimeter line, and a naturally soft and supple feel.
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Goatskin leather offers the best of both worlds. It is tough and supple, sacrificing neither quality as you might see with other leathers. The leather covered Bible smells the way a Bible should. It doesn’t reek of chemicals. The brown reminds me of a milk chocolate color. It might be difficult to see in the pictures.

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This Bible is a case bound one. It is not edge lined.

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The spine is smyth-sewn. All of the pages are part of a group of pages called a signature. These pamphlets called signatures are stacked up and then sewn together offering a supremely flexible and durable Bible.

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The corners are and the end pages are well done.

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There is a simple, yet attractive presentation page in the front.

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Decorative head and tail bands cap the ends.

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The spine is stamped with, “Holy Bible” at the top, “New American Standard” under that, “Cambridge” at the bottom in gold.

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The page edges are art gilt, with red under gold.

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There are two brown ribbon markers. I appreciate when a Bible has at least two ribbons. Many of us read daily from both the Old and New Testaments. It is very convenient to have a built in marker for each. I don’t like using a book mark for one and the ribbon for the other. I wish all Bibles would come with at least two ribbon markers and a third for the Proverbs as devotional reading. Here is a picture of the Pitt Minion on top of my Clarion. The Clarion has red ribbons. The Pitt Minion has brown to match the cover. I’m not sure which I like more 🙂

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Upon opening the Bible the texture and opacity of the Pitt Minion’s India paper was very impressive for a compact. It is uniform in texture and color.

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The typeface is 6.75pt on 7pt Lexicon No 1.

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Here is an excerpt from the products information page on Cambridge’s site,

…a stylish modern digital typeface which like its predecessor combines utility and elegance. It uses the Lexicon typeface, carefully chosen for its economical use of space. This is the font used for dictionaries and encyclopaedias because it accommodates a lot of characters in a small space. The result is a classic Bible for the twenty first century produced in a remarkably compact yet readable form.…

I agree with them, that it is very legible. It also employs line matching. The text on the other side of the page is printed directly behind the text on the other side. This dramatically reduces distraction while reading, which is especially important in a compact Bible.

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The text is laid out in a double column, center column, paragraph format in this red letter edition.

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Book and chapter are located on the upper, outer corners of the pages, with the page numbers on the upper inner page corners, making it much easier to look up passages as you flip through the pages.

It is remarkable to have a full reference Bible of this size, approximately 7.5″ x 5.25″ x 0.75″ that remains legible. It is a testament to the design work that went into the Pitt Minion. There is even a useful concordance in the back along with a map index and 15 color maps.

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If you are in the market for an ultrathin or compact high quality Bible look no further. The Cambridge Pitt Minion is the only choice.

You can purchase your copy on;

evangelicalbible.com

Amazon.com

Christianbook.com

or also on Cambridge’s site

Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of the Cambridge NASB Pitt Minion in Brown Goatskin Leather NS446:XR-B1168 on my flickr.com page.
ISBN:9780521604116

isbn: 9780521604116

The Best Bibles in the World! Yes, Premium Bibles are Still Being Made. R. L. Allan’s Readers NASB R1 R.

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The perfect Bible…  For me, that is.  Let’s face it, perfection can be subjective, when it comes to Bibles.  Everyone has different deal breakers and necessities, when it comes to features.  I know for me, a glued binding is a deal breaker.  It is the unpardonable sin amongst Bible publishers.  They really need to just stop trying to save a buck and do it right.  Of course that is my opinion.  Many people don’t even know the difference between a sewn binding and a glued one.  To them other features are more important.  They might insist on having a specific study Bible.

There are three premier brands today that I know of, Cambridge Press, Schuyler(skyler), and R. L. Allan.  I’ve done reviews of Cambridge Bibles.  They have been very generous providing me with review copies.  Schuyler does not provide gratis review copies and neither does R. L. Allan.  I had to wait for a time when I could afford to purchase one.  I had seen a Schuyler.  Our Pastor at Church received one for his Ordination.  His is an E.S.V. Quentel in green goatskin.  Reviewing Bibles exposes you to the differences between materials, features, and manufacturing methods.

With the knowledge gained by reviewing so many Bibles, I knew the attributes I wanted.  I knew that first of all, it must be as legible as possible.  I’ve reviewed several Bibles that either used paper that isn’t opaque enough, old typesets with edges that are not sharp, small font, thin font, poorly inked and inconsistently printed font, and cheap paper that offers little contrast.

Second, it had to have a sewn binding.  Without a sewn binding it would not be flexible enough to make it easy to read, and it would not be durable enough to last a lifetime.

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Third, it had to have a high quality, edge lined, goatskin cover.  This might not seem like a must, but if you have held one of these Bibles before, you would agree.  It is durable, flexible, and the grain is tactilely pleasing.

Fourth, it had to be in the New American Standard Bible translation.(NASB)  This is by far my favorite translation, to both read and study.  If you haven’t read this translation, you should.  It is a formal equivalent, and very accurate.  This is the translation to read, if you have ever wanted to get as close to the original languages, without learning them yourself.

Fifth, I wanted a double column, verse format, with center column references.  I know, I know, it is old fashioned of me, and I need to get with the times, but it is so much easier to find a verse, in a verse format Bible.  I have the Cambridge Clarion.  It is a single column, paragraph format Bible, with references on the outside of the page.  People informed me that this is the easiest to just sit and read.   Well, that might be so, IF your brain, and eyes haven’t been trained to read a double column, verse format, over the years.  I tried to teach an old dog a new trick, and it just didn’t work out for me.  So this was a necessary feature.

Sixth, was size.  I wanted a Bible for reading out of in my chair.  It couldn’t be too heavy or big.  Arm fatigue is a real thing people.  Perhaps I’m just getting old, but if you are holding a big Bible in your hands for an hour or so, it gets heavy.  Plus they can be downright unwieldy.  I despise fighting against a Bible or the cover while trying to read.

Finally, it had to have more than one, crumby, cheap, nasty, ribbon marker.  I know it seems minor, but I like to follow Ligonier’s TableTalk reading plan.  It has readings out of the Old and New Testaments, daily.  For that, I need, at least two ribbons.  I didn’t want a Bible with the cheap, thin, anemic, looking ribbons, that fold over, and get wrinkled either.  I wanted some ribbons of substance that would lay flat and help me turn to the page, without tearing the paper or rubbing the gilt off of the page edges.

The only publisher to publish a Bible that met all of my demands is R. L. Allan formerly of Scotland, now located in London.  Robert Allan established R. L. Allan’s in 1863.  They are still making some of the finest Bibles in the world.  In 2013 they moved to London.  The NASB R1 R uses the Lockman Foundation’s NASB double column, verse format, reference Bible, typeset.  The reason I didn’t purchase the Lockman Foundation produced Bible is quality.  Lockman is printing and binding their Bibles in China.  Although they are less expensive to purchase, they did not measure up to the standards that I set for my, “perfect Bible.”  R. L. Allan’s NASB R1 R is printed and bound in the Netherlands by Jongbloed.  Jongbloed is, in my estimation, the premier Bible printer and bindery in the world.  Cambridge Press, and Schuyler, use Jongbloeds as well.  It is no coincidence that the three Best Bible publishers use the same printer and bindery.  They all use Jongbloeds because of their continued excellence.

My choices were limited right off the bat.  There are literally no other publishers making the Bible I was after.  I could have compromised on a couple of things like,  cover material, or case bound instead of edge lined.  Providentially, I didn’t have to compromise.  It really is a blessing to be able to find a Bible just like I wanted.  I feel so very blessed to be living in a country, during a time, like this.  The Reformers went through much persecution to get us translations in our native tongues.  There are people today, deprived of God’s word by law of their governments.  So I don’t take the blessing lightly.

I received my order less than two weeks after I placed it.  It arrived in a cardboard box.  It was cushioned with bubble wrap and little foam puffs.

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The Bible was in a two piece box.  The box is covered with a woven blue material.  I am keeping it to put my Bible in when I am not using it.  It will sit by my chair safe and sound.

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It was wrapped in paper inside the box.

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It arrived undamaged from shipping.  While unwrapping the Bible I was welcomed with the aroma of quality goatskin leather.  Some Bibles smell like chemicals and adhesives.  The cover is thicker than I expected.  It is a rich crimson red.  There are two channels around the perimeter of the cover.

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It has a wide yapp, that is the overhang of the cover.  It protects the page edges.  The inside cover is lined with dark blue leather.  There is a gilt line around the inside perimeter.

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The edges of the cover are folded over and glued perfectly.  The corners are nice, neat, and tight.  The spine of the Bible is stamped in gold with, “Holy Bible” at the top, “New American Standard Bible” under that, and, “Allan” at the bottom.

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It has white, head and tail bands, art-gilt page edges, and three lovely, navy blue ribbon markers.

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In the front you’ll find the presentation page, family records pages for parents, children, marriages, grandchildren, and deaths.  These are printed on heavier paper, but not so heavy as to inhibit the opening of the Bible.  Then, there is the Title page, Publishers info,Foreward, and a list of the Books of the Bible.

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As I mentioned earlier, the Bible is in a double column, verse format, with center column references.  The center column is bordered by a single line on either side of it.  The chapter numbers are bold and large.  There are topic headings throughout. This is a black letter edition.  Lockman has over 95,000 cross references in this luxurious publication from R. L. Allan.

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The font is 10 point in size.  It is one of the sharpest and uniformly printed Bibles I’ve seen.  The black contrasts against the off-white Bible paper, making it very legible. The paper is beautiful and opaque.

The concordance in the back is large enough to be useful, but not so large as to bulk it up.  There is 40 pages of lined writing paper in the back for notes.  Lockman’s colored maps are retained, but printed on the same type of paper that is used in the front for the records pages, instead of the glossy paper that Lockman uses.  There are 8 maps.  The glossy paper tends to crack and tear, so I am glad to see that it was not used in this edition.

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This is a pretty thin Bible.  It measures 1″ thick.  The text block is 9″ tall by 6 1/4″ the Bible when closed measures almost 10″ tall by 7″ across.  It is very handy.  Just the right size to contain all of my desired attributes, while not growing too large with undesired features.

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Since this Bible has everything I could want in a Bible it is no surprise that I would think so highly of it.  I can’t get over how satisfied I am with it.  I am so happy with it that I mailed several of my other Bibles to friends.  This one replaces about 5 others I was holding on to for various uses.  I have taken some ribbing that was unexpected. It was brought to my attention that this should be called the, “Spiderman Bible” due to the red and blue colors.  I thought that was amusing, but come one?  If I’m going to associate it with a super hero it would be Superman not Spiderman lol.  In all seriousness, this is probably the best Bible I’ve ever owned.  That is saying a lot, because I’ve been sent some pretty good Bibles.

If you decide you need a premium Bible, you should purchase one from

evangelicalbible.com  They are the best online retailer of premium Bibles.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/snyderssoapbox/sets/72157651327362360/

They don’t get much better than this! The Cambridge Clarion, ESV Bible in black edge-lined goatskin leather.

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What qualities do you look for in a Bible?  Clear print, font size, paper opacity, sewn binding, quality cover, solid translation, lifetime warranty that you probably won’t have to use?  Well the Cambridge Clarion, ESV Bible in black edge-lined goatskin leather has it all.  I know you are probably getting tired of me giving these Cambridge Bibles such good reviews, but if they weren’t simply better than the others I wouldn’t.  I think the other publishers might even wish I would stop reviewing Cambridge Bibles.  Their publications don’t look as good compared to the Cambridge Bibles.  Now, I know there are plenty of good Bibles out there, but when contrasted with the outstanding ones they fall short in some areas.  With Bibles I’ve noticed that you get what you pay for in general.

The ESV is a solid translation from Crossway.  Here is a link to some information about the translation.  It is not a dynamic equivalent or thought for thought translation.  It is more of a formal equivalent or word for word translation.  Hebrew and Greek don’t have the same sentence structure and grammar as English.  In translating the words are translated directly into English, but are arranged as English sentences so that we can understand them.  In a dynamic equivalent the sentence or paragraph is read and studied by the team and they basically paraphrase it in English to convey the meaning in the most accurate way they can.  The NIV is a dynamic equivalent.  Dynamic equivalents may be easier to read, but in my opinion are by nature less precise.  That is why I prefer formal equivalent translations like the ESV or NASB.

Here is a link to a chart that lists some common Bible translations and their translation philosophy.  Keep in mind that several of the translations there were translated with the added agenda of being gender neutral and going beyond gender accuracy.  They call their translations gender inclusive, but it is at the purposeful abuse of scripture.

Besides being an ESV this Bible is like Goldilocks and the baby bear’s stuff.  It is just right.  It isn’t too big, or too small.  The paper isn’t too thick or too thin.  The print isn’t too big or too small.  The cover isn’t too soft or too rigid.  It gets just about everything right.  The Clarion arrived in an easy to open cardboard box along with an REB that I will review later.

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Both Bibles arrived undamaged and in good condition.  The Clarion was in a one piece clamshell box.

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The box should be retained for storage, should you ever decide to put this Bible down for a bit to read another…  I doubt that will happen.  The first thing you’ll notice is the smell of the leather.

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The next thing you’ll notice is the supple, perimeter stitched, edge lined, black goatskin leather cover.

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If you have never owned a Bible with a cover like this, you don’t know what you are missing.  For durability, functionality, and comfort, you can’t beat it.  The cover works in concert with the sewn binding and quality paper to allow this Bible to open well and lay flat on a table or desk.

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It also lays flat while held in one hand.

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This makes it a joy to read.  I love that you forget you are holding something.  You aren’t constantly fighting the cover, the paper, or the binding.  The Spine of the Clarion has, “Holy Bible” at the top.  Under that is, “English Standard Version”.  On the bottom of the spine is, “Cambridge.”  They are all hot-stamped in gold.  There are five small decorative hubs as well.

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The grain of the goatskin cover is more pebbled than a top grain cowhide.  It is softer than the shiny genuine leather covers that are made from pigskin.  The perimeter stitching is uniform and well done.

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The corners are stitched as well so you won’t see the typical corner treatment.

When you open the Bible, you’ll see the end papers are glued to cover and text block so that they will be more durable.

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There is a simple presentation page that is made of heavier card paper.  It has several blank lines on it.

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Then there is a Title Page. After that is the copyright page with the font size and type.  It list the font as 8.75/10.5 pt. Lexicon No. 1 A (Enschede ff) We also can see from this page that this Bible is printed by Jongbloed in the Netherlands.

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For those of you in the know, that is a big plus.  They have been doing great work for many years.  One truly great feature of this Bible is the line matching utilized by Jongbloed.  The lines of text are printed exactly opposite of the lines on the other side of the page so that the text isn’t distractingly visible through the paper.

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The paper is a little off white and the black text contrasts against it nicely.  It is printed clearly and uniformly throughout.  The text is laid out in a single column paragraph format with the cross-references on the outside edge of the page in the margin.

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This layout is conducive to long sessions of uninterrupted reading.  The paper is smooth.  The page edges are art gilded with red under gold.  I think this is a pleasing aesthetic.  When the Bible is open the red shows through and while it is closed the gold is prominent.

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There are two red ribbon markers for keeping your place.  Most other Bibles only give you one ribbon.  It is nice to have to so you can mark your reading in the Old and New Testaments.

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There is a useful concordance in the end with a map index and 15 color maps printed on a heavier card paper.  I like this approach better than the glossy maps as the high clay content in their paper makes them crack easier.

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With all of the features like, quality construction, quality materials, attention in design, you can tell why I love the Clarion Bibles from Cambridge.  If you are in the market for a premium Bible, look no further.  You can purchase them on these sites;

Christianbook.com

Amazon.com

evangelicalbibles.com

9780521182911

ESV Clarion Reference Edition ES486:XE
Black Goatskin Leather

The Perfect Size Bible to Sit and Read, The Cambridge KJV Concord Reference Bible in Black Edge-Lined Goatskin Leather, Red Letter Edition.

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Before I get into the vital features of this Bible I want to expound on its subjective qualities that have endeared it to me. At first glance most people won’t notice the exceptional quality of this Bible until they pick it up and give it a closer look.  Some folks won’t even notice even after picking it up.  That is not to say the Cambridge Concord Reference Bible is average or plain.  It is because the Concord is how a Bible is supposed to be.  It is the quintessential archetype of reference Bibles.  It smells like a Bible, it looks like a Bible, and it feels like a Bible.  When I pick it up to read from, I don’t have to struggle with it.  It does exactly what it should do.  It stays out of the way and allows me to focus on reading God’s word.  Everything about it is conducive to that end.

For me, it is the perfect size and weight to hold in one hand. I can comfortably read it while sitting in my favorite chair.  It isn’t heavy or unwieldy enough to require being laid on a table or desk.  It isn’t so small as to necessitate being held close.  It is not a thick Bible, yet contains many references and some helps.

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It is not printed on such light paper that the pages curl up and blow around while you are trying to read.  The pages are not a bright white.  They are off white.  Bright white pages tend to make my eyes strain during long durations of reading the word.  The India paper is strong and opaque.

There is approximately 7/16ths of an inch in the margins for note taking.

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The text is a nine point font that is printed appears pretty bold.

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The Concord is a double column verse format with pronunciations.  It has the references in the center column.

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Even with the references, 128 page Bible Dictionary, Concordance, Glossary, and 15 color maps, the Concord maintains a thin profile without sacrificing paper quality.  The pages are art gilded.  An art gilded page edge compared to a gilded page edge looks a bit more attractive.  It gives the page edges a red tint behind the gold color.  Before they put the gold colored aluminum foil on the page edges they first coat them with a red ink.  Then they apply the gold color gilding.  When the Bible is closed the edges show gold, when the Bible is open you can see the red show through the gold.

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The binding, outside cover, and inside liner, make it supple and comfortable to hold.  This one is edge lined not case bound.  It is rigid enough to not flop around like some unlined Bibles do, while it maintains flexibility with its synthetic liner that is stitched to the outside cover edges with black thread.

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The Binding is a smyth-sewn binding done by Jongbloed in the Netherlands.  They are famous for their quality work and history of Binding Bibles.  Currently, most luxury Bibles are bound by Jongbloed.  A sewn binding is a must in my opinion.  If you hope to hand a Bible down to your children and for them to use it a sewn binding is the only option.  With a sewn edge lined binding all of the pages are stacked in separate pamphlets called signatures.  These are then stacked and sewn to tapes or strings in the spine of the Bible as well as being sewn to each other.  This is why you don’t have the front and back pages falling out of a sewn binding like you would with a glued case bound perfect binding where the pages are cut, then stacked, then rubber cemented together.  Those pages are not connected to each other in any way.  If you bend the spine in a glued Bible, eventually pages will start falling out.  Not so with a sewn binding.  If you take care of it and treat it with respect it will last and last.  The other benefit of this binding is the functionality of it.  The Concord lays flat right out of the box.

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The cover doesn’t flop up and get in the way.  The covers can be rolled backwards and out of the way even.  I wouldn’t do this as a practice, but that is how flexible this Bible is.  This particular Bible is a red letter edition.

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That simply means that the words of Jesus are printed in red text, including places where He is quoted by the apostles.  Some people find this to be a very helpful feature.  The Concord has two black ribbon markers.  They are good quality without being too thick.

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I have had some Bibles with thicker markers that actually imprint on the pages they are between.  I have had other Bibles with markers that were so thin that they crinkled up and are almost useless.  It is very unattractive to open the Bible up to crinkled pages or markers.  The Concord has neither problem.  The Bible ships in a clamshell type retail box.  I would keep the Box for storage.  This Bible is to supple to stand on its edge.  It should be laid flat on a flat surface when not in use.  There was a slight problem with the shipping.  You can read about that here.

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Cambridge has assured me they are looking into this and it shouldn’t happen again.  This Bible is as pretty close to being perfect.  If Cambridge would produce this in an NASB I would be satisfied.

Here are a few good places on the web to purchase this Bible if you are in the market.

evangelicalbible.com

Amazon.com

Christianbook.com

Cambridge.org

Here are a few pictures of the Concord compared to the TBS Westminster

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Over all, I found the Concord to be a superlative Bible. It stands out from the mass produced Chinese and Korean Bibles as an example of what they should be aiming for.

KJV Concord Reference Bible, Black Edge-Lined Goatskin Leather, Red Letter Text KJ566:XRE

Black Goatskin Leather RCD266

isbn: 9780521512978