Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: Cambridge NLT Pitt Minion

Cambridge has a special place in my heart because of the undeniable beauty of their wide margin editions. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've had to repent of covetousness while browsing through their website or Bible Design Blog. My hands-on experience with Cambridge Bibles has been limited to my precious ESV Wide Margin, but I had heard raves about their Pitt Minion line for a long time. But I am not a fan of tiny Bibles. I understand the need for portability, but I'm not obsessed with it. I have a pocket NT I carry with me everywhere and a couple of compacts for my car and backpack, but all of them are beater Bibles. I have never seen a portable Bible that comes anywhere close to the beauty of the NLT Pitt Minion in brown goatskin.

NLT lovers are not spoiled with high end editions. Unlike the KJV or ESV, the NLT's target audience doesn't seem as interested in goatskin or art gilding. This may be an error in the publisher's approach, but it also may be the conversational quality of the translation being valued by a younger generation whose aesthetics are still dominated by imitation leather. Whatever the reason, the resulting market may give the Cambridge Pitt Minion a place as the highest end, best bound edition of the NLT on the market. 

I'm still hoping Cambridge will produce an NLT Wide Margin, but the NLT has not had commercial success with its Notemaker's edition (I hope to get a copy for review at some point).

The brown goatskin binding maintains its reputation for suppleness and durability and the rich milk-chocolate color adds a warmth to the appearance. The cover of the Pitt Minion is neither as soft, supple or thick as my ESV Wide Margin, but in some ways that should be expected as this is a smaller, thinner Bible and the stiffer leather is still a huge step above most "genuine leather" covers. I have no doubt that the binding will soften with use until it's as supple as the the heavier wide margin. 

The 4.875 x 6.94 dimensions put the Pitt Minion on the larger end of a compact Bible. It's an in-between size that remains ultra-thin and compact but is probably not quite small enough to fit inside your suit jacket pocket.  The Pitt Minion is a compact, but not a beater Bible. Therefore it doesn't need to fit in the back of your pants pocket or in any of those other awkward places you would stuff an imitation or bonded leather beater. The Pitt Minion is designed for those who want a portable Bible but not a "stuffable" Bible.

The layout of the Pitt Minion remains something somewhat magical. The 7 point font is not huge, the double columns may not be as reader friendly as single column (depending on your preference), but somehow the layout is both pleasant and extremely readable. Every Bible layout is a compromise between readability and size and the Pitt Minion's size does not make it an obvious candidate for the most pleasant reading experience; however the combination of layout and size somehow minimizes squinting and the lightweight, thin design does not make holding it closer to your eyes awkward.

Somehow a full column of references manages to sit in the middle of the page without disturbing the layout or producing bloodshot eyes from squinting at the tiny numbers. The only major compromise which may prove unsatisfactory to some is the paper. The box boasts of the paper: "ultra-thin, smooth and opaque." While the first two attributes are indisputable and the strength of the paper is also impressive and inspires confidence in the Bible's durability, the opacity of the paper may bother some as "ghosting" is clearly noticeable, though my guess is that most readers will not be significantly disturbed.

Fifteen beautiful Cambridge maps and a map index are here ready for perusal and reference (I looked up Illyricum in the map index just a few days ago). But even more impressive is an unabbreviated concordance with well over one hundred entries, far surpassing the concordances in most compacts.

Art-gilt pages add a whole level of class to the Bible with a beautiful red under gold shimmer.

Flexibility is not an issue. A smyth sewn binding and goatskin cover ensure that this little Bible can not only lay completely flat from just about anywhere (and this will only improve with time and use), but it can also perform almost any contortionist's trick you demand.

The famous "yoga" position. Notice the ribbons which are an excellent length, long enough to grab the end and easily pull it out from the middle around the corner of the page with some room to spare.

The NLT Pitt Minion is a compact Bible designed for everyday use but has a luxury feel. It's the top end of NLT editions, and for those who value the readability and conversational quality of the NLT, this Bible could be the perfect edition. The Pitt Minion is not a study Bible or a Bible suited to highlighting or note-taking. It's an everyday reading Bible which will not only last a lifetime but will provide pleasure to the eyes as well as portability.  

Thanks to Cambridge for providing this free review copy. I was not required to give a positive review. I have given an honest review.


  1. Your blog is becoming one of my most visited sites. Another superb review.

  2. Thanks for reading! I'm working around 12 hours a day as part of an urban mission & church plant and the blog is the only thing I do apart from our efforts to see God's presence come down in our city. It's amazing to see God bless the blog this way. Just getting review copies is a tremendous example of God miraculously providing for my wants as well as my needs.

  3. I use a Cambridge Black Goatskin Pitt Minon NLT as my primary Bible and I love it. After several month, it's very supple and flexible. I too hope tha Cambridge will release a wide-margine NLT.

  4. Jonathan,

    I've come to really enjoy your insights and pictures into Bibles.

    I too have the NLT Pitt Minion (in black goatskin).

    Here are some pictures of my NLT:

    Keep up the wonderful posts!