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« HCSB Minister's Bible to Receive Updated Text in Early 2010 | Main | The End of the Mac As We Know It (Reflections Upon Snow Leopard) »

Review: Cambridge NLT Pitt Minion Reference Edition Bible

This post was originally published on September 17, 2009 on the original This Lamp website and has been moved to this location. Please redirect any links here.

When I was in college, I worked in a Christian bookstore where we had the audacity to demonstrate the quality of Cambridge Bibles by suspending them in the air holding onto a single page. When it comes to quality and craftsmanship, Cambridge beats all other publishers, hands down. Therefore, I was very pleased to receive in the mail today a dark brown goatskin ("real Morocco") Pitt Minion Bible in the New Living Translation.

Cambridge has been publishing Bibles since 1591, and Pitt Minion Bibles were introduced in the 1930s. Cambridge publishes a number of Bibles in the Pitt Minion style: KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, ESV, and now the NLT.

For those who keep up with such things, this Bible has the 2007 second edition text of the NLT.

If you're looking for a high-quality, sewn-binding NLT, you won't find anything better than the Cambridge Pitt Minion NLT.

The back of the box claims that "The NLT Pitt Minion Reference Edition Bible continues the Cambridge tradition, now using a stylish modern font which combines utility and elegance. The result is a classic Bible for the twenty-first century produced in a remarkably comapct yet readable form." Yet any hint of modern characteristics is only subtle at best.

At first glance, this Bible looks and feels like something you'd find in the bureau drawer of an old time preacher from a previous generation. That's the beauty of the Pitt Minion style. It has a classical air to it. Even upon opening its pages, it seems to have more in common with the kind of Bibles that my grandparents would have carried than one I would find on store shelves today.

The cover is made from goatskin. It is flexible, but still more firm than the cowhide cover of the Renaissance Leather TNIV Reference Bible. It feels good in the hand and would make a good Bible to preach from, assuming the type is not too small for the preacher's eyes.

To get an idea for the size of the Pitt Minion NLT, see the picture below where it sits on top of the NLT Study Bible. This Bible is only 7.8 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches. It hearkens back to a day when books were often "hand-sized." Compare for instance any volume in the Loeb Classical Library or even the International Critical Commentary (not counting recent editions such as the volume on the Pastorals). The Pitt Minion's dimensions fits in with these books in size and in the way they fit in one's hand. It can easily be carried with a few other books or placed in a bag or even a purse.

In every sense, this is a compact, ultra-thin Bible. Yet unlike most Bibles of this sort, the NLT Pitt Minion is sturdy and made from high quality materials. One won't have to worry about pages becoming unglued five years down the road.

As seen below, the NLT Pitt Minion has smyth-sewn India paper pages. The sewn binding allows the Bible to lay flat, in spite of its small size. Although the pages have a golden gilded edge, one can easily see a shade of red when the pages fan out. Note also two ribbons for easily marking one's spot for either personal reading or public proclamation.

Generally, I don't care for red lettering in Bibles. However, it somehow seems appropriate in this particular Bible. I do notice however, that the red is a darker color than the bright red used in similar Bibles a generation ago.

A center-column reference runs through the middle of a two column text. NLT textual notes are presented at the bottom of the second column.

There is a mild level of bleed through of text from the underlying page, but it's at a minimum as with other Pitt Minion Bibles. The underlying type is not distinct enough to be a distraction as is often found in some thinline Bibles.

Also included is an NLT Dictionary/Concordance following the book of Revelation. This is more detailed than one might imagine at over 115 pages in length. A set of maps as well as a detailed index to the maps follows the concordance. In keeping with the traditional style of the Pitt Minion Bible, these maps, although up-to-date, reflect a look that also reminds one of Bibles from an earlier era. This is not meant as a criticism, but rather I appreciate the consistent style of this Bible from beginning to end.

As with most things in life, one gets what one pays for. Thus, this is not an inexpensive Bible. The suggested retail price on the edition I received (ISBN: 978-0-521-75921-2) is $129, although it is available at well under $100 from most discount book outlets on the internet. Yet, in an age in which even Bibles have seemingly become disposable consumer items, the NLT Pitt Minion is made to withstand the test of time. Odds are, it will outlast its user because of its quality binding and materials. Therefore, when seen from the perspective of a Bible designed to last throughout one's entire life, the price tag should not be seen as a negating factor.

From my perspective, the only reason this Bible won't be suitable for some readers is due to its small 7 pt. print size. All Pitt Minion Bibles use this smaller type. And although the particular typeface in this edition is more readable than the type used in some previous Pitt Minion Bibles, some may decide to go with a different Bible containing larger print for regular use.

Overall, though, I commend this NLT Pitt Minion Reference Edition Bible to you for use in both personal reading and proclamation. In one binding a 21st century translation is combined with the style and quality of previous generations. Don't be surprised if someone seeing you with this Bible assumes you're carrying the KJV. If this happens, simply read a few verses out loud to demonstrate the contemporary and conversational quality of the New Living Translation text, but don't be surprised if your Bible doesn't get a few second glances.

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Reader Comments (2)

Here are the original comments for this post from my earlier website. Please continue any discussion here.

R. Mansfield
Curt, I haven't handled an NLT Select, so I cannot make a comparison.
October 7, 2009, 4:17:24 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Curt Parton
Rick, have you handled the Tyndale Select NLT? If so, how does its cover compare to that of the Pitt Minion?
September 25, 2009, 1:10:26 PM EDT – Like – Reply

I've purchased the NLT Select in ebony goatskin and LOVE it. Here are 100 photos for your viewing pleasure:
February 14, 2010, 2:44:34 AM EST – Like – Reply

Curt Parton
Our church uses NLT pew Bibles. I (and other teachers) teach from the NLT.
September 25, 2009, 1:02:24 PM EDT – Like – Reply

ElShaddai Edwards
My former church - Evangelical Covenant - was using the NLT as its pastoral/pew Bible.
September 22, 2009, 12:13:38 AM EDT – Like – Reply

R. Mansfield
My pastor is using the NLT as his primary text. He uses the NIV secondarily for a more traditional reading now and then. But we don't have pew Bibles. I don't know if anyone collects data about congregational use of translations.
September 21, 2009, 6:02:23 PM EDT – Like – Reply

RS Rogers
Two questions: Are any congregations using the NLT as a primary text for biblical readings and/or as a pew Bible? Does anyone collect data about congregational use of translations?
September 21, 2009, 5:44:54 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Rick, thanks. Yeah, I find myself using it quite a lot on Sundays too. But not yet as my primary text. 7 pt seems so small. Wow! But readable? Ok.
September 18, 2009, 10:03:52 PM EDT – Like – Reply

R. Mansfield
TC, I used the NLT exclusively in public for about three months. I do think it can be done. Currently on Sundays, I'm using the HCSB for a series through the Psalms. The HCSB is particularly good in the Psalms and the NLT is not the best there for my purposes. Are you referring to the font size on the PItt Minion? It's small--7 pt, but very readable.
September 18, 2009, 2:43:48 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Thanks, Rick. Have you made that complete switch to the NLT? How is the font size?
September 18, 2009, 1:02:21 PM EDT – Like – Reply

Tim Chesterton
I'm old enough to remember when the NIV first came out. At Christmas 1978 they released the first leather editions, and the ad on the back of Christianity Today said 'A Lifetime of Biblical Accuracy'. Clear message - this one will last you your lifetime. Seven years later they released the NIV Study Bible, and the ad on the back of Christianity today said 'The One You've Been Waiting For'. Clear message: a lifetime is seven years!
September 18, 2009, 11:57:10 AM EDT – Like – Reply

Kevin Grady
I love the handy size and I love the quaility but... as I get older (which is the pits) the eye sight needs a better print. I do agree with the comment about the fast turn around on translations (almost like software) that spending a lot of money on a quailty Bible is hard to justify. But like Rick, I perfer leather or leather like. However there is one kind of fake leather (more of a rubber feel) that make my fingers crawl.
September 18, 2009, 11:37:02 AM EDT – Like – Reply

Keith Williams
As for the stability of the NLT text, while I can't promise that the 2007 text will outlast the Pitt Minion, I can assure you that the text will not be updated for the next 3-5 years, minimum. The scholars continue to meet annually and discuss places where the translation can be improved, but we won't issue any updates for the forseeable future.
September 18, 2009, 11:28:18 AM EDT – Like – Reply

R. Mansfield
Mike, bleed through is on par with other Pitt Minion Bibles. It's not enough to be distracting like so many cheaply made thinlines. If you look at the second picture of the open Bible, you see a pretty good representation of the amount of underlying text. EE, when I write my Mosaic review, maybe I can compare the references. Tim, I agree with your frustration. And yet, I prefer leather (or leather-like).
September 18, 2009, 10:27:12 AM EDT – Like – Reply

Tim Chesterton
The Bible may outlast the user, but will it outlast the next revision of the NLT? Really, new translations come so fast these days I can barely justify a leather-bound edition.
September 18, 2009, 10:19:51 AM EDT – Like – Reply

Ken Steele
I love thinlines, but they are so cheaply made. This one reminds me of the KJV I received in 1977 that I still have and has held together so well.
September 18, 2009, 9:45:44 AM EDT – Like – Reply

April 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterR. Mansfield

Good morning Mr Mansfield.

Thank you again for this review, which we have been quoting in our catalogue for a few years now.

I have a request to make to you, but can't find any contact details on your site beyond the public comments. Is there an email address I can write to you at, please?

Best wishes

Amanda Taylor
Marketing & Sales Executive, Cambridge Bibles

January 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Taylor

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