Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Cambridge NKJV Wide Margin (Hardcover)

Cambridge's Wide Margin collection includes a number of beautiful options, including a number of hardcovers, which retain Cambridge quality without the prestige and price tag of goatskin (not that I have anything against goatskin). One of Cambridge's hardcover editions comes in the NKJV, a translation which suffers from limited options. Cambridge offers not only the only full size wide margin edition of the NKJV currently available, but what is also one of the best editions of the NKJV period. While Goatskin or French Morocco leather are options out there, the humbler hardcover is worthy of attention for its beautiful simplicity and functional elegance.

The Bible is built like a quality hardback, with a handsomely textured navy blue cover. The dimensions are 7.25 x 9" which is a bit large, but still within normal range for a hardback. The binding is smyth sewn for durability and the rigid cover may protect the binding even better than leather. The edition comes with only a single ribbon, which is something of a disappointment, but that ribbon is much longer than usual, and a more ideal length than the size of the ribbons on the Cambridge ESV Wide Margin. The functionality of the hardcover binding may not be a luxurious as leather, but makes more
sense for those of us who carry our Bibles in backpacks, book-bags, and messenger bags. It is much easier to bend and damage flexible bindings with such carrying methods than the rigid hardcover.

The Cambridge layout is beautiful as always. The paragraph format is broken up by sections of poetry which are laid out in verse by verse format. The inside margin is not as large as the outside, which can be frustrating but is the unfortunate norm for wide margin layouts, and the large amount of space in the header and footer provides ample room for notes that won't fit in the side margins. The paper is the same strong, opaque Bible paper that has pleased margin note takers for years, and the print is likewise the familiar 9/10 that Cambridge has standardized.

Cambridge Bibles include a comprehensive concordance and the NKJV provides an impressive concordance which at initial testing seems better than the one provided in the ESV wide margin (don't forget to vote on this month's poll regarding concordance use). The concordance also provides generous margin space, so additional notes or entries could be made to the concordance if certain verses always seem to be out of reach when most needed.

Two of Cambridge's more unique features, a mysterious "Index to Notes" which consists 26 columns labeled with the letters of the alphabet and a small notebook of lined paper in the back add to the interactive capacity of the Bible and encourage new methods of note taking. Finding ways to use the two features can inspire different methods of study and reflection and give the space you might be missing for sermon notes, outlines or quotes.

The Cambridge maps are always beautiful and in greater supply than most Bibles. While the maps in this older edition are not quite as advanced or aesthetically pleasing as the new ESV edition, they are just as functional and still quite impressive considering the meager fair that often accompanies mainstream editions.

The Cambridge NKJV Wide Margin includes all the features that make the Cambridge's line of Wide Margin Bibles such a success, and I greatly desire to see the editions become more popular. The hardback editions are a beautiful option that in no way sacrifice quality or craftsmanship. They are simply a different option rather than a different level of quality. If the same care is given to the Bible as is given to most high quality leather editions, the hardcover will last just as long. In some circumstances, the hardcover may handle brutality better and the price, though still expensive by mainstream bonded leather standards, is completely reasonable considering that wide margin Bibles are still a fringe option. The Cambridge NKJV Wide Margin is probably the best NKJV edition on the market.

Cambridge provided a review copy. I was not required to give a positive review.


  1. Hello from Madrid, Spain.

    I agree with you, it is a very handsome edition. Pity I don't like the NKJV at all.

    By the way, superb blog, keep the good work.

  2. It is quite a beautiful book, especially for a hardback Bible, most of which feature designs that look like advertisements. This one is quite classy. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I've ordered one of these pretty much based on this review. Looking forward to using and learning from it. Thanks for a well-illustrated and written review.

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