Cambridge. The name radiates elegance. Cambridge University Press is one of the few publishers authorized in England to publish the King James Version (known there as the Authorized Version, or AV) of the Bible. Every company faces challenges in publishing quality. In this review, I put the Cambridge Concord Wide-Margin Reference Black French Morocco KJ763XM to the test. Will Cambridge deliver?
Features of this Cambridge Wide-Margin include:
- French Morocco binding
- Sewn binding
- 56 ruled pages
- Pronouncing text
- 8 pt font
- Black letter
- 15 full color maps
- Translators to the Reader
- Gilt edges
- Two ribbon markers
- Size = 7 ¼ x 9 x 1 ½
— SPECIAL NOTE: The Bible in these pictures has thumb index, but this was added later. This Bible will NOT come with thumb index. —
This edition is in the King James Version (KJV- known in England as Authorized Version, or AV). The King James Version will be 400 years old next year (1611-2011), so reviewing a KJV Bible made by a company that was publishing Bibles when the KJV was translated and published seemed appropriate to me. The KJV is my favorite. I use others (such as ESV, NKJV, NIV, NLT), but the majority of my work is from the KJV. I grew up with it. It sounds and reads like God’s Word to me.
The cover is black French Morocco leather. The grain is beautiful. It is among the best looking grain that I’ve ever seen. French Morocco is not as soft as goatskin or calfskin, but it is still a nice cover because it has its own feel. It’s tough and durable, and is very flexible. I bent it all out of shape and it still lays flat on the table.
I like that I can open the Bible to any page and it stays open. It passes my ‘Genesis 1 test’. When I first took the Bible out of its box I immediately opened it to Genesis 1:1 and laid it on a flat surface. Most Bibles close. This one stayed open. I even went back to the preface and it stayed open. This might not be a big deal for a reading Bible because you’re holding it anyway, but for a writing Bible it makes a difference. I don’t want to hold the Bible open while I’m trying to write notes. This makes writing much easier.
This edition has almost 1.5 inch margins on the sides, 1.25 on the bottom, and .875 on top. You lose a little of the margin on the inside due to the spine, but I was still able to get closer to the inside than I expected.
The text is an 8-point font that is semi-bold. It’s dark, but not too dark. I like the typeface. It is very readable. Normally I would prefer a slightly larger font, such as the 9-point font in my Note Taker’s. However, the boldness of the font is just the right amount to allow for easier reading. I can actually read this text better than I can the Note Taker’s.
I really like the pronouncing text. That is one feature that I’ve missed since I moved from my Thompson Chain Reference to the Note Taker’s.
This edition is black-letter. I used to avoid black-letter, thinking that I could only feel comfortable reading red-letter, but the more I develop my marking and color-coding style the more I like black-letter. With black-letter my colors only have to look good over black text. Red-letter is my favorite for reading, but black-letter is my favorite for color-coding. The boldness-level of the text looks great with PrismaColor pencils.
I would like to see each book start on the next page rather than just under the book before it (just like my Note-Taker’s). This would leave space at the end of every book, even if it’s just a little space. Every little bit helps.
The paper is “Bible paper”. It is thicker than India paper and made for writing. It is very opaque, so the text on the other side of the page is faint. When writing with pens such as Pigma Microns there is no bleed-through. Also, the pens and pencils don’t leave marks in the paper (unless you bear down on the paper too hard, then you can get bleed-through and indentions on the page).
My favorite feature is the 56 pages of ruled paper in the back. But, there is something most people don’t mention- there is also an index to your notes. This is a page for every letter of the alphabet, plus a cover page and ending page- giving you 28 more blank pages to write on. That’s 84 pages made for writing- a note-taker’s delight.
The concordance is 136 pages and is also in wide-margin. This gives me an idea. I’ve decided to write definitions of the words in Greek and Hebrew next to the word in the concordance. That’s an easy place to find the definition… just look in the concordance.
This Bible has more cross-references than I’m used to. My only complaint is the text for the reference is small; but that is the only way Cambridge could get all of those references on the page. This gives me the advantage of not having to write my own references by hand, which could take up too much of my margin.
In many Bibles the references are keyed to the text with a lettering system. For example, a verse might have three references, label a, b, and c. In the center column there will be the verse number followed by a, b, and c, with each having the references for that specific portion of the verse. The Cambridge doesn’t have this referencing system. This way there is no obstructions within the text (other than pronunciation marks). The text looks great, but it can be difficult trying to determine which references go with the portion of text you need. This can cause you to go to verses that you’re not looking for. You can get around this by marking the text as needed. I like to color-code the text and the references, but this only helps in this situation if there are not too many portions of text with the same colors (because they fall under the same major topic, i.e. salvation). One option is to place a different colored dot over the portions of text and references to go together.
In the center column, along with the references, there are translation notes. These notes explain different renderings. For example, the note for Genesis 1:14 says:
the day… : Heb. between the day and between the night
One of my favorite features is the glossary of old English words. There are seven pages with updated definitions to help explain what some of the more archaic words mean. Since these words are no longer in use today, or used differently, it is helpful to have a reference like this to better understand the context. Each definition gives the part of speech and the reference where the word is found. The glossary is also in wide-margin, giving you space to write notes on the various definitions.
There are 15 maps on 16 pages. And they are pretty.
There are two ribbons. They are flexible and thin and longer than most ribbons that I’ve seen. Their extra length helps when using the ribbon to open the Bible to the page you have marked. It would be nice to have the ribbons in different colors to help differentiate their purpose (one for study, one for reading, etc.).
The preface The preface of King James and ‘Translators to the Reader’ was included in the 1611 edition. I am glad that Cambridge included this. It is the thoughts of the translators to the reader of the Authorized Version and explains their feelings on translations. It is an excellent work that is well worth reading.
Wide-margin Bibles are my favorite choice for study Bibles and this Cambridge is an excellent specimen. For a Bible that will grow with you as you add your own notes to make it truly yours, the Cambridge Concord Wide-Margin Reference Black French Morocco KJ763XM deserves a spot at the top of your list. I like the French Morocco because it has a great price/quality ratio. This Bible looks and feels great and has plenty of writing room. For quality in craftsmanship, Cambridge delivers.
This free review copy was supplied by Baker Publishing. Bible Buying Guide was not required to give a positive review- only an honest review.
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