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 Holman HCSB, Deluxe Ultrathin Reference Bible in Black Genuine Top Grain Cowhide, is an Excellent Idea, but Poorly Executed.

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I would love to give this Bible a glowing review. It is a good idea. My favorite size Bibles have been ultrathins. They are generally pretty portable and handy. An ultrathin with, sewn binding, some references, top grain cowhide leather cover, edge lined binding, opaque paper, and legible typeset is a wonderful Bible to have. If done correctly, they could sell them as fast as they could make them. Like I said earlier though, the design needs to be properly executed.  There have been some problems with both review copies I was sent. The first copy arrived with the gold stamping on the spine missing in spots,

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the tail band was sliced, one of the end pages was dog eared, the cover was not glued down to the inside liner well enough, this allowed the pages to get between the liner and cover, and the pages were all stuck together. The gold stamping would have been enough to send this Bible back as it is fairly expensive. The second Bible sent to me to replace the first one has leather debris sandwiched between the cover and the liner, leaving two lumps on the front cover.

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These will cause the cover to wear out and eventually put holes in it. That would have been enough to warrant sending that Bible back as well. Generally, I am very pleased with Holman Bibles. Many of their Bibles are produced in South Korea. This one was produced in China. Almost all of the incidents I’ve had with defects in workmanship or materials, have been with Bibles made in China. It doesn’t seem to matter who the American publisher is, whether it is Lockman, B&H, or Hendrickson when they make Bibles in China the quality control is problematic.

Where Holman stands above some of the other publishers is in their customer service. They have quickly and courteously supplied me with another copy, when I brought the defect to their attention. Some publishers were unwilling to replace defective copies. Lockman has replaced defective copies as well, but this review is of B&H.

If this Bible would have been produced without defects, with a higher quality liner, and end papers, it would have been worth the retail price. I would suggest that B&H stop making this Bible in China, and move the production to someplace with higher quality standards. This would have been a great Bible considering the ambition of the design. It was shipped in a cardboard box with paper packing.

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The retail box inside is a two piece box, that should be retained for storage.

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The Bible inside the box was wrapped in black construction paper to protect it during shipping. The cover is supposed to be top grain cowhide leather. It does feel very soft,

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but it has been pared pretty thin.

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I don’t know if Holman supplied the leather or allowed the Chinese binder to provide the leather. The liner looks like a synthetic material. It doesn’t glue well to the hide cover. The end papers are very thin as well. This might have been done to increase the flexibility of this Bible given that it is edge lined bound and not case bound. I appreciate what they were attempting to do, but the end papers just came off as cheap. I love when a Bible has a genuine, high quality hide as a cover. The smell and feel of a genuine hide, not to mention the durability, ensure many years of use. Combine that with a flexible sewn binding, and you have an easy opening Bible that lies flat on your table, or can be wrapped around itself, to be held in one hand for easy reading.

The line matching helps to keep the text legible in conjunction with the uniform printing and ink consistency.

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This is a double column paragraph format, red letter edition Bible.

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There is an oddity that puzzles me. They printed the book names and chapters on the bottom of the page, instead of at the top where it typically is located. It makes you pause for a moment when trying to turn to a specific scripture.  Chances are good that I could have been sent a Bible with zero defects and my review would have been extolling the virtues of this great little Bible.  Chances are, you might order it and receive a good copy.  I just happened to get tow in a row with defects.  The good news, is that Holman will make it right if you get a bad one.  If you really want an HCSB in ultrathin that is edge lined and covered with top grain leather, this is about one of your only choices.

Make sure to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible and its replacement on my flickr page.

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The Cambridge KJV/RV Interlinear Bible, in Black Calfskin Leather, A Bible you might not have known that you needed.

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The KJV/RV Interlinear is an amazing tool.  For anyone who has had difficulties with the Early Modern English of the KJV, you are not alone.  The Revised Version was the first big translation to come from the Authorized 1611 KJV.  The 1611 KJV was in Early Modern English.  By the late 1800’s English had changed significantly.  On May 6th of 1870, at Canterbury, England, the general assembly of Episcopal clergymen, met and determined to, revise, for public use, the authorized 1611 KJV.  This was notable for a few reasons, my favorite of which is that it was a cooperative effort between British and American theologians, who were experts in the Biblical languages.  Their objective was, “From the outset the object sought by the revisers has been “to adapt King James’ version to the present state of the English language without changing the idiom and vocabulary,” and further, to adapt it to “the present standard of Biblical scholarship.” Since 1611 this latter has made great advances, especially during the last quarter century.”  Here is some information I was given from Cambridge, “A little historical data/background: The Interlinear Bible is really two Bibles in one. It combines the King James Version of 1611 with its first authorized successor, the Revised Version of 1885. This edition includes the highly respected cross-references from the Revised Version, which are considered to be among the finest ever produced. It also carries the footnotes from both versions, giving at times four different renderings of difficult passages.”

A little later in 1901 American theologians made a few more revisions to come up with the American Standard Version.  This translation of course is where we get my favorite translation the New American Standard Bible.  For all of the NASB fans out there, be glad this work was done.

When you have an interlinear Bible usually the texts are run linearly parallel with one as the superscript and the other in subscript.  When you have a parallel Bible usually there will be at least two columns of text, where one column is a translation and the other in the column running parallel to it side by side.  This gives the reader an easy way to compare the two translations.  This Bible however, is unique to my knowledge.  Where the two translations are the same you will see only one line of text.  Where they are different from one another the text will be more like an interlinear.  The Revised version text when different from the KJV will be written in superscript and the KJV will be in subscript.  It looks like this.

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When there are a lot of differences, in a short space, it can get a little confusing, or distracting to read.  This doesn’t happen very often.  I find that this method, with these two specific translations, works quite well.  When I come to a difficult section in the text, I have the RV to look at.  It does help.  Another attribute of this type of interlinear is that it avoids the bulk usually associated with parallel Bibles and other interlinear Bibles.  Most interlinear Bibles have both texts in their entirety.  This one only becomes interlinear when the text is divergent.  This cuts down on the space needed.

It is a nice addition to any Bible collection, and for modern application, it makes the KJV more accessible, without losing the old world style of the KJV.  Granted, there are more modern translations, and there are modern parallels, but they do make you aware that you are reading a modern translation.  So if you love the KJV, but sometimes have difficulties with it, and you love the way the English language sounded then, this is a Bible you should own.

Aesthetically, this is a very nice Bible to look at.  Cambridge has a good reputation for producing high quality Bibles that will last longer than you will.  This Bible came packaged in a cardboard box.  It arrived at my house undamaged and in good condition.

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It was inside of a clamshell designed retail box that should be retained for storage.

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The KJV/RV Interlinear is not a small Bible.  It is about the size of my NASB, MacArthur Study Bible.  The Cambridge is covered in very nice black calfskin.  The cover is obviously, leather.  There is no shiny, artificial look to it.  It doesn’t feel hard, and slick, like the cheaper, pig skin leather covers on lesser Bibles.  The leather smell also reinforces in your mind that this is not a synthetic cover or overly processed leather.

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The binding is smyth-sewn.  The Bible is case bound.  The inner cover is lined with a black vinyl adhered to it.  The corners are nicely cut and glued.

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The cover is stamped with, “Holy Bible” in gold.  The spine also is stamped in gold with, “The Interlinear Bible” at the top, “King James Version” under it, and “Revised Version” under that.  On the bottom is the Cambridge logo with the word, “Cambridge” under it.

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The page edges are art-gilt.   The red under gold gives the page edges a warm look, when the Bible is open.

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There are decorative red and gold, head and tail bands.

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The two black ribbon markers are higher quality than you would find in cheap, mass produced Bibles.

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I know some people complain about page corners curling with some Cambridge Bibles like the Clarion.  When I first opened this Bible, the paper did seem a bit wrinkled and the page corners curled just a bit.

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After being out of the box and giving this Bible a while to come to a state of homeostasis with the dry Idaho air, the page edges flattened out and the wrinkles went away.  I do wish I had waited a while to take the pictures.  The paper is behaving much better now that the Bible has been opened for a while.  I personally, like the page corners to curl up just a bit.  Have you ever tried to get the pages apart to turn them, on a Bible with very thin paper, only to be frustrated page after page?  There you have it; I made a negative quality into a positive feature.  Now don’t get me wrong, I hate it when the entire page edge curls up, and interferes with my reading, but let’s not get too crazy with our demands.  After all, the paper on this Bible is very nice.  It has wide margins and is thick enough to take notes on.  The margins are about an inch.

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It is also a pleasant off white color that contrast well against the dark, 10/11 point Millers 2n Small Pica No.4 (small body) typeface.  It does look like an older typeset, but unlike some of the very old ones it has held up pretty good.  It is also a larger size which helps.  Again, thanks to the way this interlinear is set up.  This is a black text edition.

In the front of the Interlinear you’ll find a presentation page.

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After that, the publication information including that the Interlinear is printed in the Netherlands.  I verified with Cambridge that Jonglboeds did the printing and binding.  They are the premier bindery for Bibles.  You can’t buy better that I know of.

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Then there is some information about the Interlinear and translation information about the KJV and RV.  The Old and New Testaments are both introduced with a Preface.  Usually the older type settings of the KJV are verse format.  This was one of the first editions to use paragraph format.  It does so in a double column layout with center column cross references.  Notes are at the bottom of the page.

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At the end of the Interlinear there is a section called the, “Bible Companion” which is basically a Bible reading plan.  Also there is an alphabetically arranged blank index.  This is great for adding your own notes and references.

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After that we have fifteen color maps, a map index, and a large list of variant readings preferred by the American Standard Version translation committee.  All of this together makes for one highly usable, functional, and handsome Bible.  If you like the majesty of Early Modern English, but need a bit of help from time to time, or if you just like the KJV and the RV because of their rich history, the KJV/RV Interlinear Bible from Cambridge is an excellent addition to any Christians library, even if it is the only book in it.

Be sure to check out the picture gallery at the bottom.

RV655X  isbn: 9781107630932

You can purchase the Cambridge KJV/RV Interlinear in black calfskin on these online retailer’s sites,

Cambridge University Press

Amazon.com

Christianbook.com

Evangelicalbible.com

Another Excellent Bible from Cambridge, the Clarion NKJV Bible in Brown Genuine Calfskin.

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I begin by referring you to my previous review of the Cameo from Cambridge.  The two Bibles were delivered in the same packaging from Cambridge.   Both have the sewn bindings and both are covered with the same brown calfskin.  You can read about those aspects in that review.

The Clarion from Cambridge is an example of modern Bible design done right.  Here is a quote from the Cambridge website about the Clarion in NKJV;

A Cambridge Clarion edition represents an unusual and attractive combination of features – a very readable text in a paragraph style, with a single-column layout – all within a personal size reference Bible format. Here, the NKJV text is presented in a single column with the cross-references in the outer margin, giving the page a very well laid out appearance. The font size is a little under 9 point with generous line spacing. It is typeset in Lexicon No.1, a modern digital font which has many of the characteristics usually associated with traditional Bible typefaces – in particular, a degree of readability more usually associated with much larger type. The Bible has 15 new colour maps and a concordance. There are two ribbons to keep the place in different parts of the Bible. This is a Bible of the very highest quality, printed on India paper with art-gilt edges, Smyth-sewn for flexibility and endurance, and bound in brown calfskin leather

Chances are if you are considering the purchase of the Clarion NKJV Bible in brown calfskin, you have a list of desired attributes in mind; manageable size, legibility, quality sewn binding, beautiful and durable cover, and so on.  The Clarion fits the niche almost perfectly in my opinion.  It brings together many desirable features without sacrificing too much in the other areas of design.  The Clarion is larger than the Cameo.  It is definitely thicker.  The thickness of the Clarion does make it a bit more to hold than the Cameo, but the font is so much more legible.  The tradeoff is well worth it.  Because of the thicker format the Clarion can use a larger font.  It is a modern font, printed with modern technology making it very clear and sharp.  The Cameo’s font was cleaned up, but still doesn’t compare to the font of the Clarion.

Another wonderful attribute is that you can get the Clarion in different translations.  Currently it is available in the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the English Standard Version (ESV), the King James Version (KJV), and the New King James Version (NKJV), which I am reviewing.

So besides the size, font, and available modern translations, the Clarion also breaks in very well.  I have been using an NASB Clarion in goatskin for my daily reading and it has become my standard for comparison.  The NKJV in calfskin adds some rigidity to the cover.  Instead of being edge lined and perimeter stitched with a very flexible material it uses a more common process of vinyl inner liners glued down to the outer cover.  The added structure can be a pro to some and a con to others.  In my opinion, if this Bible were thinner the stiffer cover would be a pro, but it is just a bit too thick.  I can’t roll the cover all the way around like I can with the goatskin covered Clarion.  It makes it a little less comfortable for me.  The cameo gets the size right for this type of cover, but at the sacrifice of font size, line spacing.  These all have an effect on the ease of reading.  If you are going to buy the Clarion, I’d suggest the goatskin.  Of course this is just my opinion.  Everyone has different sized hands and preferences.  I suggest looking one over in the Christian book store, or getting your friend to let you borrow theirs for a few minutes.  It is not a small investment for most people.  Because of the quality of craftsmanship and materials used it will be with you for a long time.  So it is important that you do your research before buying a lifetime companion like the Cambridge Clarion.

This Bible is covered with a genuine calfskin in brown.

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It is very supple and soft.  On the front of this Bible is hot stamped, “Holy Bible” in gold.  The spine of the cover has, “Holy Bible” at the top, “New King James Version” immediately under that.  At the bottom of the spine is, “Cambridge” in gold as well.  There are modest hubs worked into the spine as well.

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The inner vinyl liners are black and glued neatly to the calfskin.

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The calfskin has been folded over and finished uniformly.  The corners are all perfectly finished.  There are two ribbon markers that are color matched to the cover.  The ribbon markers are about a quarter inch wide.

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The page edges are art gilded.  This gives them a distinctive look that you won’t find on less expensive Bibles.

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The paper is high quality opaque paper.  It is slightly off white and contrasts with the black font nicely.  The text is printed in a single column, paragraph format with line matching.  Line matching is when the lines of text are printed in such a way so as to make the text on one side of the page directly opposite of the text on the other side of the page.  This aids in legibility.  The font is large enough to be easily read yet small enough to keep the size of the Clarion down.  It is clearly, and uniformly printed.

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It has a useful concordance and the maps are printed on a heavier paper with a  matte finish.

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The sewn binding is of the quality I’ve come to expect from Cambridge.  The Clarion opens well and lays flat when opened.

To sum up, the Clarion is an excellent Bible that fills a big niche in the Bible market.  Many Christians are on the lookout for a Bible that travels well, is easy on the eyes while reading, and is well made.  The Clarion fits the bill and is available in some great translations.  Check out Cambridge Press’ Page.  You can pick up a copy of this Bible on evangelicalbible.com for about $140.00 and you can also get it from Amazon for about $120.00 and Christianbook for about $155.00

ISBN-13: 9781107664425

isbn: 9781107664425

ISBN: 110766442X

NKJV Clarion Reference Bible NK485:X Brown Calfskin Leather

Wow, the Cambridge Cameo KJV Bible in Brown Vachetta Calfskin Leather is a Triumph of Form and Function!

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I received this Bible from Cambridge gratis for review purposes.  It arrived sufficiently packaged in a cardboard box with one other Bible.

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They did not deform or break through their packaging and the Bibles were in perfect shape when they were delivered.

Upon opening the box I was presented with the clamshell retail box, which should be retained for storage purposes.  The Bible inside the box was instantly striking in appearance.  I am accustomed to many different qualities of cover material.  When I picked the Cameo up out of the box I was struck by the soft texture of this type of calfskin leather.  The grain was smoother with smaller pebbling compared to goatskin leather.

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I was expecting a darker brown with a texture like other top grain cowhide Bibles.  I was pleasantly surprised.  This calfskin was smoother and soft.  The front of the Cameo is hot stamped with, “Holy Bible” in gold.  There is a channel pressed into the leather around the perimeter of the cover.

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On the spine of the Cameo is, “Holy Bible” at the top, “King James Version” in the middle, and the Cambridge Logo at the bottom.  They are all hot stamped in gold.

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The page edges are beautifully art gilded with red under gold.

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The construction of the Cameo is top-notch.  In addition to having a wonderful cover that will last a lifetime, it has a sewn binding that will last as long as the cover.  Because of these two fine qualities the Cameo is a pleasure to hold and read.  The Bible opens well and lays flat easily without being overly flexible.

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This edition does everything right.  The only way this could be any better is if it were in NASB.

The inside cover is lined with vinyl that is glued down.  The corners are finished nicely.

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There are two ribbon markers that match the color of the cover as well.

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Some less expensive Chinese or Korean Bibles try to entice you with a very supple calfskin cover lined with calfskin or another very flexible material.  Then, they drop the ball with either the paper or the fit and finish.  That is not so with the Cameo from Cambridge.  The paper is nice and opaque.  The font is a cleaned up 8 point, Petit Medieval Clarendon type.  It is bold and easy to read.  The text is arranged in a double column verse format with center column references.

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In the front of the Cameo you have publication information page followed by a nice presentation page.

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After that is the text of the KJV.  Lastly, there is a very useful concordance in the back along with 15 color maps that are indexed.

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I know there is a big trend now for the single column paragraph formats.  Personally, I find it more difficult to focus on during reading in my home.  I have a busy house and am always getting interrupted.  As a consequence I routinely lose my place and have to look for where I left off so that I can resume reading.  The paragraph format has all of the tiny verse numbers dispersed through the text and finding them or remembering where you left off can be a bit more tedious.  I find it easier to pick up where I left off if I can find the verse quickly.  This is my personal preference.

The Cameo is a delightful size Bible to hold and read anywhere.  I can sit in my recliner and read it, I can read it in bed, I can read it on my work break, and I can read it while I drive…  I was just checking to see if you were still awake.  Never read and drive!   Seriously, seldom will you find a combination of form and function like the Cameo.

Here the Cameo is compared to the Concord.

ISBN: 0521146100

isbn: 9780521146104

KJV Cameo Reference Red Letter Edition KJ455:XR Brown Calfskin Leather