Fine-Tuning a Modern Classic: The New Black (Imitation Leather) ESV Pitt Minion

ESV Imitation Leather Pitt Minion Reference Bible with box

While my search for the ideal pocket Bible will probably never truly end, for practical purposes I found the one that fits my needs best while I was still in grad school:  The Cambridge Pitt Minion Reference Bible.  So, when I found out that Cambridge was releasing a new black imitation leather edition of the PM (in the ESV translation, no less), I was eager to take a look at it.  As I awaited the Bible’s arrival, I was afraid that there would be nothing really worth saying–same Bible; new casing.  End of review.

I was wrong.  I have a lot to say.

Left: Black goatskin Pitt Minion.
Right: Black imitation leather Pitt Minion. The imitation leather cover holds its own next to its premium leather brother.

What’s in a Pitt Minion?

To frame the discussion, let me lay out the reasons I’ve gravitated towards the Pitt Minion over the last few years:

  • It has the same footprint as my other go-to Bible (my combined Greek and Hebrew Bible by UBS); I can grab them both and carry them together almost anywhere.
  • The font is bold, crisp, and quite readable.
  • The Bible is compact enough to fit in many of my pockets.
  • The construction is of the high quality one would expect from a Cambridge Bible.
  • The Bible contains ample cross-references and a concordance.
  • The maps and map index are wonderful.

So what’s New?

The Cover.  First of all, this new cover is absolutely stunning.  Sometimes I prefer to have an imitation leather Bible in public because it doesn’t attract the sort of “bling-bling” attention of an art-gilt, goatskin Bible.  Yet this imitation leather is different.  The “leather” looks quite real, especially the top half.  I can tell that it’s imitation leather immediately, but I would wager that most people cannot.  Some might object to the “Franken-Bible” seam, but I like the two-grain look.  The silver lettering and blind stamped seal on the spine, the striking faux leather, and the silver page-edging all combine to form an elegant and impressive package.

Black imitation leather PM behind a green trutone compact by Crossway. Even in the photo, you can see that there is a difference in quality between the leatherette (black, Cambridge) and the paper card-stock (green, Crossway).

The Cambridge Quality.  Now, I’d be the first to admit that this little volume is overpriced; the price is comparable, for example, to a full sized ESV Study Bible.  Yet the price corresponds with Cambridge’s reputation, a reputation which has been well earned over the years, and trademark Cambridge excellence is on display here once again.  The paper (printed in the Netherlands) is comparable to that of the other Pitt Minion Bibles I’ve seen, and I’ve not noticed the page-curling issues I had with the Clarion Reference Bible.  Where most imitation leather Bibles settle for a cheap paper lining inside the cover, this Bible has a sturdier leatherette lining.  And the silver lining on the page edges looks to me to be real silver leaf, not the spray-on stuff on most Bibles these days (although I’d have to verify this with Cambridge).  Also, this Bible has two ribbons, which seems to be standard on Cambridge Bibles these days.

Top: Black goatskin Pitt Minion
Middle: Black Imitation Leather Pitt Minion
Bottom: Brown Goatskin Pitt Minion

So  .  .  .  What’s Different?  There are three significant differences between this Bible and the other ESV Pitt Minions I’ve seen.  1) This one uses the 2011 text of the ESV.  This isn’t a big deal, and I’m sure the other covers still available from Cambridge have switched over by now as well.  By the by, for any other nit-pickers out there who noticed:    the typo in Job 7:1 has been fixed.

2) Here’s the fly in the ointment:  The print on this Bible is noticeably lighter than the print on other Pitt Minions I’ve seen.  I cringe to mention this, because it is certainly a quibbling sort of observation.  Yet, I can’t help but notice it, and it does indeed make a difference for me in terms of reading the small font comfortably when my eyes are tired at night.  Now, the print is certainly not bad–there are no broken letters, smeared words, double-printed lines, or anything like that.  But the ink is ever so slightly lighter, and, precisely because the font of the PM is just large enough for my almost middle-aged eyes to read comfortably, it makes a difference.  Is it bad enough that I would say not to buy one?  No.  In fact, who knows but that maybe I just had a bad luck of the draw on this one.  But, if you’re concerned about small print, you might want to take a look at one before you purchase it.

Left: The map index the older ESV Pitt Minion (black goatskin cover) has, based on the Moody Atlas.
Right: The new map index (black, imitation leather). If you blow the picture up, you can see the color key. Also, you can get a bit of a sense of what I’m talking about in terms of the font being lighter and less bold on the newer Pitt Minion.

3) Finally, my beloved maps have been changed, but not necessarily for the worse.  The Moody Atlas maps and index have been replaced by maps by Cambridge and Oxford.  I don’t think that the differences are such that one set of maps is better and another worse.  There are still the same number of maps (15) covering roughly the same material, and the map indexes seem to be equally extensive.  The new map index is color coded with six different colors (black for settlements, red for political regions, purple for travel routes, etc.) and it features a listing of battles and commodities (copper, ivory, etc.); these are welcome features.  Also, the Cambridge/Oxford maps seem to have more locations labelled with names not used by modern Bible translations (Abar-Nahara appears on the map, for example; Bibles usually translate this as “the province beyond the river” or something similar).  You might find this helpful or irritating, depending on how you use the maps.  In any event, the maps are still quite ample, and together with a map index, they provide a useful tool.

On the whole, then, this is a fine addition to the Cambridge line-up.  While I’d suggest looking for a good sale on this rather pricey Bible, I’d definitely recommend the Bible.  The casing is absolutely beautiful, the quality is outstanding, and the typical cadre of helps are just as useful as ever.  If you’re looking for a pocket ESV, you might want to pick this one up.  And, of course, if you own one of these let me know what you think in the comments below.

About hjimkeener

Education: B.A.: Moody Bible Institute GCTS: Knox Theological Seminary M.Div.: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Ph.D.: Baylor University Ministry Experience: I have served as a Youth Minister, Associate Pastor of English Ministry, and a pulpit supply preacher. Teaching Experience: In addition to teaching in various volunteer and professional ministry settings, I have taught as a University Professor (Teaching Fellow; Baylor University) and as a Seminary Professor (El Seminario de la Iglesia Presbiteriana de Bolivia). I have also given lectures and sermons in Spanish.
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4 Responses to Fine-Tuning a Modern Classic: The New Black (Imitation Leather) ESV Pitt Minion

  1. Kevan says:

    Noticed you said you had a combined Hebrew/Greek UBS Bible around the same size as a Pitt Minion. Can’t seem to find it on the UBS website. Would you mind sharing where you got that Bible from?

  2. hjimkeener says:

    That was a custom job. I sent a NA 26 Greek NT and a BHS Hebrew Bible off to Abba Bibles and they sewed them together, put gilding over the page edges, and put a beautiful calfskin cover on it.
    You can buy a hardback edition from Amazon or UBS that already has the two sewn together, called the Biblia Sacra:
    It’s way overpriced, imo, but it’s smythe sewn, which is nice.
    Check out my bit on this site about Abba Bibles if you want to learn more about them. If you have any more questions, let me know.

  3. Pingback: Back in . . . Black: The NKJV Cambridge Clarion Reference Bible in Black Calf Split Leather | For His Lovingkindness is Everlasting.

  4. -b says:

    Thanks for this. Do you notice much difference in the 2011 text vs. the old one? If the print is different in the newer ones maybe it’s better to look for the older?

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