Cambridge ESV Clarion Reference Bible, Black Goatskin Leather

(34 customer reviews)


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SKU: 9780521182911


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Page size: 5-1/8″ x 7-1/16″ (131 mm x 180 mm)

2,080 pages

Cambridge has created an entirely new setting of the English Standard Version that will be a delight to read and to handle. Cambridge Clarion Reference Editions present the text in a single column and place the cross references in the outer margin. The font size is just under 9 point with generous line spacing. They are typeset in Lexicon No.1, a modern digital font that has a degree of readability associated with much larger type. The Bibles have 15 color maps and a concordance. These are Bibles of the highest quality, printed on India paper and Smyth-sewn for flexibility and endurance. They are offered in a range of superior binding styles: calf split leather, top-grain calfskin, and edge-lined goatskin.


Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 5.125 × 7.0625 × 2 in

34 reviews for Cambridge ESV Clarion Reference Bible, Black Goatskin Leather

  1. antcaputi978 (verified owner)

    Excellent bible, fast 2 day shipping as always, this is a great travel bible. The Goatskin is great, the print on this bible is very legible, the gilding is very nice, check out more of my reviews at

  2. Jeff Brown (verified owner)

    The third Clarion is the charm. This was my third try with the Cambridge Clarion and I can say I am very satisfied. The first two Clairions I ordered in 2012 and 2014 were unacceptable due to excessive page curl. I had given up on the Clarion. Then I recently read a review online indicating the ESV 2016 Clarions did not have the page curl issues the ESV 2011 had.
    I called evangelicalbible to discuss this issue and I was told they had not had any Clarions returned for page curl issues for sometime.
    I went ahead and ordered a Clarion in goatskin and I am very pleased with my purchase. The Clarion is the perfect size for carrying and the real surprise is the text. The text is very readable, it almost leaps off the page! I think the combination of font size, line matching and line spacing make the difference. This combination makes for one of the most readable Bibles I have seen.
    The fact that the text is printed and bound by Youngblood in the Netherlands is just icing on the cake. This about as lose to perfection as you ca get. I highly recommend the Cambridge Clarion.

  3. Roy Blevins

    The paper was just too thin. In a lot of ways this could have become my carry bible if the paper wasn’t so thin. Beyond that I love the single column paragraph format with references. I ended up giving my copy away.

  4. pleonic (verified owner)

    I’ve owned my black goatskin Clarion ESV for about a month and have come to the conclusion that it is the perfect Bible (for me at least). My requirements were that I wanted a.) an ESV b.) a single column edition so there is ample room for poetry c.) references, and d.) it had to be of the highest quality so it can last me decades.

    This Bible has all I wanted, and much more. The Clarion is the perfect size and thickness to fit in the palm of my hand — and I’ve got stubby fingers! When I teach from it, it’s as though it’s an extension of my arm. But despite it’s size, the print in this Bible is so easy to read. I’m 58 and have no problem seeing the words.

    The paper is thinner India paper, which ever since my mother gave me a brown Cambridge calfskin KJV when I went off to seminary has meant a quality Bible to me. So, that the paper isn’t thicker in the Clarion isn’t a bother to me. I don’t do much marking so I couldn’t tell you whether it bleeds through the paper.

    And then there’s that black goatskin. It’s so soft and supple that it does whatever you want it to do with no resistance or stiffness whatsoever. I’ll tell you a secret: sometimes after I’ve finished my morning scripture study I’ll just sit there holding it, just for the tactile pleasure of doing so.

    This is a magnificent, magnificent Bible!

  5. Joshua (verified owner)

    I just want to second what others have reported about the pages curling. I read the reviews and knew the risk but went for it anyway, underestimating just how noticeable the problem is.

    In every other way this Bible is absolutely perfect for me. The leather, the font size and layout, the overall size — it’s all just what I’d want from a fairly compact (albeit thick) Bible. I especially love that it has a good size font for being such a small Bible.

    But when you’re trying to read and the pages keep lifting up right before your eyes, you can smooth them back down only so many times before you start second-guessing the price tag.

  6. joetucker04 (verified owner)

    In short – I had hoped this Bible would be one I would use heavily for many years. It is well made, and seemingly well designed with the exception of one glaring flaw that makes it utterly unusable.

    This Clarion was my second Cambridge purchase (I also own the Wide Margin ESV, which I would give six stars, if possible). I was initially very impressed with the Clarion and found it to be extremely well made and a joy to read. The gutter issue was noticeable, but not a deal-breaker – I knew that it would be a factor at the outset.

    The same can not be said for the page curling – it is intolerable. For a $160 Bible, I am frankly shocked by how glaring of an issue it is and how nothing seems to have been done to correct it. For example – I’m working on memorizing Ephesians and early this afternoon had the Clarion opened to Chapter 1, sitting on my desk completely untouched. As I’m reciting – I literally watched one of the pages curl over on itself to the point of not being able to see the references on the side. It’s hard articulate how frustrating this is.

  7. Tony (verified owner)

    I’ve had my Goatskin Clarion ESV for approximately a year now. As someone new to the premium Bible market I am completely wow’d by the “liquidity” of this Bible in the hand. If you’ve never held one you really owe it to yourself to learn what a premium, well executed binding with high quality cover feels like. Be warned though, it will spoil you completely. It is a sultry piece of craftsmanship for sure. I bought my wife an RL Allan ESV Personal Size Study Bible and the Clarion feels far more floppy / liquid in the hand which is likely due to the synthetic liner and the book proportion differences combined.

    Here are the things I like about this Bible: It is a very portable size; just as much as a thinline and is actually more comfortable in the hand than a goatskin thinline such as the Heirloom in my opinion. The font size and spacing are the best I have personally seen with my eyes, which are now over 40 eyes. The more I compare other Bibles, the more I study about Bible layout compromises and challenges, the more I really appreciate what Cambridge did with the Clarion. This page layout is exactly like so many trade paperback books in size and reading experience. I initially wondered about references in the outer margin but what I’ve learned is that it allows them to be far more legible than they are in the gutter. The references are far easier to read than they are in something like an ESV Study Bible. I have found the reference system to be very useful and adequate for study. This being the first Cambridge Bible I’ve owned, I’m new to their map index and maps. I very much appreciate the map index as it allows me to quickly locate a city coded to their maps. There are, I think, 13 maps in this Bible. That’s quite a lot for a package this size.

    The parts I don’t like about the Clarion: The paper is very thin and the issues I read about with page curling are very real. I find the pages curl in specific areas of the text block. Mine curls badly in 1 Corinthians. This sometimes causes a simple movement of arm to cause a page turn which can be frustrating. The paper is a tad on the transparent side for my liking. The line matching does help with this, as well as a quick “fluffing” of the page you are reading to lift it slightly from the page below. But, even a modest increase in opacity would go FAR with this Bible. Compared to some, I do not however feel that this paper is weak. It’s actually quite strong in practice and feels that way in my opinion.

    The text can read into the gutter on this Bible depending on how you use it. I predominately use it while reading in the mornings and evenings, sitting on the couch or in bed. When held in the hand, the flexible binding allows a simple adjustment of the hands to position the left or right page in a manner that keeps the text out of the gutter. However, I tried teaching one message on Revelation with the Clarion and found this to be a noticeable challenge when the Bible is laying on a pulpit / lectern / table. The text block is much thicker than a thinline and all that paper causes books near ends of the Bible to read into the gutter if not held in the hand. One thing to keep in mind in that same context is a sweeping motion of the arm potentially causing the page to turn on you. The thinness of the paper I also find a bit challenging to deal with if you are going to be flipping from passage to passage. Though I’ve only used it once for teaching, I do wonder about the ease of locating verse numbers in this Bible. Single column isn’t the best format for that and this Bible is designed with a bent toward being a “Reader’s Bible” which means the verse numbers are not accented in any way to make them easier to identify. There have been a couple of times when I’ve had a verse number “2” a few words away from a superscript “2” and have had to stop with Deja-Vu to figure out what just happened, and where does verse 2 really begin. The superscript is similar to the verse number font and size.

    Though I praised the floppiness / liquidity of this Bible, I’ve found it somewhat difficult to transport. I tried placing it in my leather satchel and due to the liquidity of the binding it was nearly folded in half when I arrived at church and looked inside to get the Clarion. That’s something to think about. Though I praised the proportions of the pages and the comfort of holding the Clarion being better than a goatskin thinline, there’s also something a tad odd about the proportions of the Clarion. It’s squatty and fat, and that’s not wrong. But, there is just something “right” to me about the proportions of the thinline. I find that I can elevate the Clarion without it sliding out of my hands better than the Heirloom Thinline which wants to slide at the slightest incline.

    So, a summation: The binding, goatskin, liquidity, quality of printing and craftsmanship, art gilding, font size and leading (line spacing), overall package of references, text format and maps is quite frankly a powerhouse of value. Things to take into consideration: thin paper that will curl from time to time, print that will read into the gutter on books near either end if placed on a pulpit, verse numbers may be a little challenging to identify in a teaching / preaching setting, if you are accustomed to older Bibles the ghosting in this Bible will almost certainly bother you. My original Bible was a glue bound, bonded leather KJV Study Bible that I still have. It’s not much, if any thicker than the Clarion and the paper is FAR better as well as the bold print. That KJV was purchased back around 1994-1996 and I’m not sure if the Bible paper industry has changed since then but it would appear so.

    Now, with all of those pluses and minuses, it’s hard for me to not recommend that you buy one of these Bibles. I’ve come to the realization that there are simply a host of things that go into Bible design and there are ALWAYS compromises that MUST be made. This is one of the finest Bibles on the market, period. You simply have to live with some kind of trade offs. The paper opacity issue is mostly overcome by simply fluffing a page before reading it in this Bible. It is a joy to read in Church or at Home. It is easy to travel with due to it’s size and is probably one of the best all around Bibles one can find anywhere in ESV. It would be interesting to see what the product would be for Cambridge to put this text layout onto more opaque paper and add 1.5″ margins all around as a Wide Margin Bible and make the verse numbers more bold.

    Regarding Evangelical Bible, they are great folks to deal with and I can heartily recommend giving them your business!

  8. Bob Snyder

    What qualities do you look for in a Bible? Clear print, font size, paper opacity, sewn binding, quality cover, solid translation, lifetime warranty that you probably won’t have to use? Well the Cambridge Clarion, ESV Bible in black edge-lined goatskin leather has it all. I know you are probably getting tired of me giving these Cambridge Bibles such good reviews, but if they weren’t simply better than the others I wouldn’t. I think the other publishers might even wish I would stop reviewing Cambridge Bibles. Their publications don’t look as good compared to the Cambridge Bibles. Now, I know there are plenty of good Bibles out there, but when contrasted with the outstanding ones they fall short in some areas. With Bibles I’ve noticed that you get what you pay for in general.

    The ESV is a solid translation from Crossway. It is not a dynamic equivalent or thought for thought translation. It is more of a formal equivalent or word for word translation. Hebrew and Greek don’t have the same sentence structure and grammar as English. In translating the words are translated directly into English, but are arranged as English sentences so that we can understand them. In a dynamic equivalent the sentence or paragraph is read and studied by the team and they basically paraphrase it in English to convey the meaning in the most accurate way they can. The NIV is a dynamic equivalent. Dynamic equivalents may be easier to read, but in my opinion are by nature less precise. That is why I prefer formal equivalent translations like the ESV or NASB.

    Besides being an ESV this Bible is like Goldilocks and the baby bear’s stuff. It is just right. It isn’t too big, or too small. The paper isn’t too thick or too thin. The print isn’t too big or too small. The cover isn’t too soft or too rigid. It gets just about everything right. The Clarion arrived in an easy to open cardboard box along with an REB that I will review later. Both Bibles arrived undamaged and in good condition. The Clarion was in a one piece clam-shell box. The box should be retained for storage, should you ever decide to put this Bible down for a bit to read another… I doubt that will happen. The first thing you’ll notice is the smell of the leather. The next thing you’ll notice is the supple, perimeter stitched, edge lined, black goatskin leather cover. If you have never owned a Bible with a cover like this, you don’t know what you are missing. For durability, functionality, and comfort, you can’t beat it. The cover works in concert with the sewn binding and quality paper to allow this Bible to open well and lay flat on a table or desk. It also lays flat while held in one hand. This makes it a joy to read. I love that you forget you are holding something. You aren’t constantly fighting the cover, the paper, or the binding. The Spine of the Clarion has, “Holy Bible” at the top. Under that is, “English Standard Version”. On the bottom of the spine is, “Cambridge.” They are all hot-stamped in gold. There are five small decorative hubs as well. The grain of the goatskin cover is more pebbled than a top grain cowhide. It is softer than the shiny genuine leather covers that are made from pigskin. The perimeter stitching is uniform and well done. The corners are stitched as well so you won’t see the typical corner treatment.

    When you open the Bible, you’ll see the end papers are glued to cover and text block so that they will be more durable. There is a simple presentation page that is made of heavier card paper. It has several blank lines on it. Then there is a Title Page. After that is the copyright page with the font size and type. It list the font as 8.75/10.5 pt. Lexicon No. 1 A (Enschede ff) We also can see from this page that this Bible is printed by Jongbloed in the Netherlands. For those of you in the know, that is a big plus. They have been doing great work for many years. One truly great feature of this Bible is the line matching utilized by Jongbloed. The lines of text are printed exactly opposite of the lines on the other side of the page so that the text isn’t distractingly visible through the paper. The paper is a little off white and the black text contrasts against it nicely. It is printed clearly and uniformly throughout. The text is laid out in a single column paragraph format with the cross-references on the outside edge of the page in the margin. This layout is conducive to long sessions of uninterrupted reading. The paper is smooth. The page edges are art gilded with red under gold. I think this is a pleasing aesthetic. When the Bible is open the red shows through and while it is closed the gold is prominent.

    There are two red ribbon markers for keeping your place. Most other Bibles only give you one ribbon. It is nice to have to so you can mark your reading in the Old and New Testaments. There is a useful concordance in the end with a map index and 15 color maps printed on a heavier card paper. I like this approach better than the glossy maps as the high clay content in their paper makes them crack easier.

    With all of the features like, quality construction, quality materials, attention in design, you can tell why I love the Clarion Bibles from Cambridge. If you are in the market for a premium Bible, look no further.

  9. Jeffrey Mellema (verified owner)

    This is one of the nicest, most readable ESV Bibles on the market. I won’t dance around things: this is one of the finest text blocks known to man. Ever since I first beheld the Clarion, I have hailed it as one of the best all-around Bibles available. There is no other single column reference Bible that can match it. To find out why, visit my detailed photo-review here:

  10. Paul Tanca

    This is a well executed bible by Cambridge. The small size, line matching, and great readability makes this a true success. I would have liked for Cambridge to use better ribbons as well as leather line the inside cover. That would have earned this bible 5 stars in my opinion. To see my detailed video review, see the link below.

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