When I began to wade into the world of fine Bibles, the first Bible I decided to purchase was the Cambridge Pitt Minion. I was intrigued by the compact size of the Pitt Minion and the litany of adoring reviews. I decided to make the purchase because the goatskin NIV Pitt Minion was 50% off the list price on Amazon.com. (In case you’re interested, it still is.) At $80, it isn’t exactly economical, but it was a great discount on an exceptionally made Bible. I have no regrets about making this purchase and would not hesitate to buy this Bible again for the same amount of money. Here is why:
As far as I can recall, I had never seen or touched a goatskin Bible before my Pitt Minion arrived. The more I read about these Bibles online, the more I wanted to get my hands on a goatskin Bible. Now that I have spent hours with half a dozen goatskin Bibles, this cover is one of my favorites. The cover is paste-off, which is typically considered less durable than edge-lined covers. However, it also means that it does not have the tab that I’ve written about before and that I continue to find vexing. Out of the box, the Pitt Minion cover was a bit stiffer than I had anticipated that it would be. But it has broken in exquisitely! After reading a review from J. Mark Bertrand, I decided to give the cover all it could handle. Every time I pick it up, I roll the Bible up like a newspaper two times, so that each cover is rolled up on the inside. The boards have broken in wonderfully and the cover seems to me to have become more supple and flexible the more I use it. I would not change a single thing about the cover of this Bible. It gets better with use.
The binding is also exceptional. I have read it described as springing open. That seems a bit overstated to me. However, the Bible easily lays flat at either Genesis 1 or the maps at the back. This Bible is not only made with an attention to detail, it is also made to be read. As with any Bible of this quality, the pages are smyth-sewn.
The Pitt Minion is most famous because of its layout. It is widely considered to be the ideal two column layout for a compact Bible. While I am not an expert in design, I have been amazed at how readable this Bible is given the small font size.
The font is 6.75/7 Lexicon No. 1 A, which is small. The size of the font is the only concern I have with recommending this Bible. If you cannot comfortably read smaller print, then this Bible is not the one for you (and you should rule out all compact Bibles). Having said that, a comment I’ve frequently seen people make after spending time with this Bible is that it reads as if the font were bigger than it really is.
The text is set in a double-column layout. The references are between the two columns and are set off by a solid line on each side. Notes from the translators are in the footer, as are any references that could not fit in the center column. The text is also set in paragraphs, which I greatly prefer to verse by verse layouts. While I do generally prefer single-column layouts, I love reading this Bible and the two columns have not been an issue for me.
There is one change I would like to see in the layout. I would like each Book to start on a new page. I understand the reasons for not doing this, but I would gladly accept the additional thickness of the Bible for the elegance in layout and reading experience that would be gained.
One of the things that most surprised me about the Pitt Minion is that it has the same size concordance as the Schuyler Quentel, a much larger Bible (for comparison the photo above features the Quentel and Pitt Minion together). Fitting a 2,474 word entry concordance with more than 10,000 Scripture references in this small of a Bible feels like a magic trick of some kind. If this wasn’t enough, the concordance looks to me to be the same size as the text itself, which makes it easier to read than the concordance in the much larger Quentel.
The Pitt Minion also has 15 color maps. From the variety of Cambridge Bibles I’ve seen, these maps are the same across the variety of Cambridge Bibles. This Bible also has two ribbons that are a really nice red. There is also a blank presentation page at the front of the Bible.
If you want a highly portable reference Bible, the Cambridge Pitt Minion is in a class by itself. I have carried mine in my backpack on several trips and it has held up beautifully. I have intentionally not packed it in the box it came in when I travel because I want to remove any obstacle to reading it. I had some concern that the Bible would get damaged if I treated it as I would any other book. I found a slight scratch in the art-gilded page edges during one trip. But I don’t view these Bibles as museum pieces. One of the reasons they are worth buying is because of the durability of the materials that are used and the quality of the construction. The more I have used this Bible, the more I like it.
Kevin M. Watson is a professor at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. He teaches, writes, and preaches to empower community, discipleship, and stewardship of our heritage. Click here to get future posts emailed to you.