I was pleased to receive this little gem of a Bible from the generous folks at Cambridge! Having just introduced the HCSB Ultrathin Reference Bible into my rotation, I have a measure of sorts with which to compare this bible.
First, I conduct the aroma test. This is the only goatskin bible I have and I’ve not ever handled one that I can recall, so I was not sure what to expect. I opened the box and held the bible close to take in the aroma of its binding. My first impression was it did not have the lovely leathery aroma of top grain cowhide, which was a bit disappointing. There is the smell of leather, but it’s definitely deeper, almost musky, and thus not quite as appealing as cowhide, at least not initially. Though I wouldn’t liken it to the comparison of goat cooking on an open flame to beef (the goat is somewhat off putting), it is an earthier scent. However, I can say after having used this bible for a few months, the aroma is much more subtle and more pleasing than at first.
Second, and the most important aspect, is the bible’s overall usability. This particular bible is smaller than most I have. It is more like a slimline and measures approximately 174 x 120 mm (6.8 x 4.7 in). The downside is obviously the readability; however, despite its smaller size it’s a very readable font face (6.75/7 pt Lexicon) and a very portable bible. Several months’ use has also loosened the leather so that it is more pliable than when straight out of the box. The text is laid out in two-column format, which with a font size of 7 could be a little small for some. Surprisingly, the font and format is quite readable. The two columns are intersected by a center column populated by cross references noted in the text. Other features include the words of Jesus in red, an NIV concordance, and fifteen bible maps, each of which are nicely colored and coded with an index of various features of the maps themselves.
The binding is quite nice, though as I noted, the leather is not as aromatic as others. Nevertheless, the leather having softened a bit is nice and looks really good. There is a very clear grain to the goatskin that seems commensurate with its provenance. It boasts art guild edges and two ribbon markers, seemingly standard fare for higher-end bibles such as these. All these elements contribute to overall pleasing aesthetic and a perfectly nice bible for regular reading and handling.
Αυτω η δοξα
*UPDATE – Having kept this bible in my reading rotation, the goatskin leather has become much softer and supple, thus increasing the overall flexibility. The increase in softness also lends to a nicer feel, naturally.