The KJV Clarion Reference Black Calf-Split Bible, KJ483:X available from Baker Publishing Group is an excellent, genuine leather, quality made bible. It is available from the Baker Publishig Group’s Cambridge Bible website, as well as from such retail stores as Amazon.com. The bible is calf-split leather which is a higher quality leather than typical Morocco leather bibles, but slightly less quality than goatskin or calfskin bibles.
The Baker Publishing website lists the bible’s dimensions as 7.0625 x 5.125 inches. The bible feels good in the hand, a perfect size for preaching or teaching from.
The binding is smyth-sewn which means it is bound in such a way as to allow for the bible to open and lay flat even if it is open to Genesis or Revelation. The cover is calf-split leather which is a technique employed in which the top layer of the skin is (top-grain) removed, and the lower level is then processed to make the calf-split leather. It is usually tanned via vegetable oil. It is very flexible, but not quite as limp as you have when buying a goatskin leather bible.
The text is typeset using Lexicon #1 type, which, according to Baker Publishing is “a digital font designed for easy reading and with many similar characteristics to traditional hot-metal Bible typefaces”. You can see a sample of the print on the page to the left. This is Genesis chapter one, and notice how the bible lays flat without any need for a weight. That is a nice feature for extended study of the Word of God. The Clarion Reference bible is in a single column layout, and in a paragraph format rather than a verse by verse format which is the more traditional format. As a study bible, this does not pose a problem, but if you are using it for sword drills or you are preaching from it, it may be a little more difficult to go directly to the verse you want as you’ll need to scan through the paragraphs to find the specific verse number you are looking for.
The reference system is well designed, and sits on the outside edge of the bible. This was done purposefully, as the publisher intended to not distract at all from the reading of the actual bible’s text. As I said earlier, this is a great bible for devotional or self study purposes.
The back of the bible contains a well done Reader’s Companion Reference System. Think of it as a concordance and dictionary combined. I actually appreciate this more than a traditional concordance. Typical bibles will include a concordance which is great for finding other scriptures which contain a word that you are studying, but useless if you are trying to find the meaning of the word. The reader’s companion saves space and increases the usefulness of the concordance by rolling the concordance and dictionary into one. As you can see in the pictures, the paper is a typical thin weight paper that most bibles come in. If you like to write notes in your bible, I’d recommend using either pencil or standard ink pens such as what you’ll get from a cheap Bic pen. If you use a gel pen it will bleed through. The same goes for typical highlighters. I’d recommend solid highlighters made of a very soft colored pencil lead which you can purchase at most bible supply store. The maps are very colorful and are pastel in the color palette.
You can see on the image to the left that the maps are extremely well done and are informative as well as beautifully illustrated. The bible map pages are a slightly thicker weight of paper than that which was used for the text of the bible.
If you are a notetaker, then you might be hard pressed to fing space for your notes in this bible. This is why one of my favorite bibles is the KJV Classic Note Taker’s Bible which I will review in the future, here at Pentecostal Blogger.
The King James Version or Authorized Version is the standard text from 1769. Almost all KJV editions are based on the Oxford 1769 edition of the text, including the Cambridge bible. This translation is timeless and is the edition used in most United Pentecostal pulpits. It is also the most quoted form of the text which has as its basis the Greek New Testament of Beza (1598 and 1588/89 Greek editions of Theodore Beza) and the Hebrew Old Testament of Daniel Bomberg (Hebrew Rabbinic Bible by Daniel Bomberg [1524-1525]). The text celebrated its 400th year anniversary in 2011.
There are two ribbon bookmarks sewn into the binding, however I find that I do not use them that often. For those of you who use a daily reading plan, this may help by being able to “leap frog” the daily readings (one bookmark at the start of the daily reading, the other at the end, then for the next day, move the front marker to the last place of the next day’s readings). Another possible use for the two ribbons is if you’d like to concurrently read the Old testament and New Testament. The gold edges are nice, and they are not stuck together as some of my bibles in the past have been. The gold gilding doesn’t stay unmarred for very long however. My copy had a noticable mark in it one hour after unboxing the Clarion bible for the purpose of writing this review!
Last impressions? This is a sturdy, well made KJV bible which is slightly smaller than most bibles I have, and about a quarter of the weight is missing from this edition compared to other bibles I have owned. If you’re a highlighter or underliner kind of person, the paragraph format should make for easy reading with only slight “ghosting” of the words showing through the paper (as seen in the pictures). If you are a heavy note taker, this bible is probably not your bible as the margins are fairly narrow with little precious room to draft your commentary on the side. I like the look and feel of the calf-split leather and I would rate this bible 8 out of 10 stars overall.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Baker Publishing Group, through a book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”