Bible Review: ESV Clarion Reference Edition

ESV Clarion Reference Edition published by Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press | Amazon | CBD

I received this jewel of a bible from the generous folks at Cambridge University Press! This time, it’s the Clarion Reference Edition in the ESV translation. When it comes to bibles, at least for me, there are two primary components—the packaging (or binding) and the contents (the translation itself). The translation is obviously the more important of these two. Whether it’s for more casual reading or more intensive study, the translation (or translations) matters. This Clarion Reference Edition employs the ESV, a widely popular translation among evangelicals and perhaps even to some not in that camp. I like the ESV (though it’s not without its faults) and have enjoyed having this one in my rotation.

As for the less-so-but-still-important feature of binding, the Clarion certainly lives up to the reputation Cambridge has built for producing top-quality bibles. I’ll begin, as with previous bible reviews, with the leather test. This Clarion is bound in brown calfskin leather, which is quite soft and supple to the touch, as you might imagine. Unlike my NIV Pitt Minion (black goatskin), this leather is soft right out of the box and does not require use to appreciate its inherent worth. While it not as soft and velvety as a top grain cowhide or other similar leather, it is certainly far above bonded leather and even some other less-than-top-grain bindings. Color wise the brown is a medium tone and I think will prevent more obvious defects (stains, wear, etc) from showing too badly. Overall, the leather is very nice and because the leather is not stiff and rigid, this edition is quite flexible.

The layout of this edition is also a positive. The Clarion is not quite the length as other bibles I own; it’s more squared than it is rectangular (dimensions are 204 x 152 x 45 mm). However, this is not an issue; in fact, I would say it doesn’t detract from its usability in any way. I’ve preached a few times using this bible and it fits comfortably in my hands and I had no problems thumbing to various sections through the course of a sermon. The Clarion’s text is in a single-column format with cross-references in the outer margin, which reduces crowding. The font size is Lexicon No.1 and is sized at just under 9 point and is very readable, even at arm’s length away. The Clarion also boasts fifteen color maps and a concordance, both of which are fairly common stock in modern editions. Dual ribbons permit marking multiple sections for easy reference.

Cambridge claims it “has created an entirely new setting of the English Standard Version that will be a delight to read and to handle” and on this point they are quite right. The ESV Clarion is indeed a lovely edition and would make a great addition to one’s library.

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