Journaling Bible Review


December 28, 2016

Bible Journaling really jumped into high gear when Shanna Noel’s Illustrated Faith went viral. Longing for a way to be in The Word that fit with my creative spirit, I jumped on the bandwagon with Crossway’s Single Column ESV Bible and the stash of art supplies that I already had.

At the time, there were very few choices when it came to cover designs & colors, as well as translations. I only saw ESV and NIV when I was shopping. Since my other regular Bible is NIV, I researched the ESV and liked the idea that it is referred to as a essentially literal translation. So it was down to selecting the number of columns of text on the inside pages, because I knew that I was going to draw in the margins, I went with single column so that my art would appear right next to a passage without having a second column between the two. This left me with one more choice, did I want the Single Column ESV in brown or black, because the polka dot was sold out and I did not see any other options. I went with black, it was cost effective and my other Bible is brown. I later ended up painting on the cover and found that it took acrylic paint well, so it is no longer solid black.

But now that the Journaling Bible market has exploded, I am here to compare some for you: 

Basic Black | The original Journaling Bible from Crossway is the one many of us have. Comes in other colors too. Choices of translation and choice between one or two columns of text per page. There are light rule lines in the margins to help you which practically disappear when you draw in the margins. From personal experience, I can tell you that the pages take watercolor remarkably well. I think it is because they are thin with a hint of waxiness to them (like most Bibles), so they don’t absorb as much water which makes the pages a complete wrinkled mess. You will get a little ruffling of the pages, but not enough to complain about. It is a great Bible, and has nourished my soul as I filled its pages.

Edges To Swoon Over | Personal Reflections Edition has an extra wide margin – two and a half inches of unlined space for artists, doodlers, poets and journalers to go wild and do their thing. When closed, the edges of the pages display a lovely watercolor looking floral scene. The cover is a flexible leather-like binding with an optional floral canvas to color. Inside the text is King James (see my comments about the benefits of that later in this post), spans two columns on each page, and Jesus’ words are in a nice easy to read wine-red color.

Easy Reader | The Inspire Large Print Edition boasts text that is 10.8 points. The New Living Translation is my current favorite to read & quote from, and this having large print, makes it super easy to read. The margin is nearly two and a half inches (even though they claim 2 ½ inches, my measurement says 2 ⅜ inches), some have scripture verses to color in and others are simply ruled with light lines. It too has edges that have been printed on. The downside on this Bible is the size – to hold all of the content from the original size Inspire Bible at over 10 point type, it grew in size and weight. So it is not ideal for throwing in your bag and lugging it around, but great for snugging up on the couch with. One other downside is that the cover is already imprinted with a mark from the strap – and this never happened on my old black one from crossway, even when I loaded it up with tabs and tip-ins.

Already Illustrated in Color | The Beautiful Word Bible comes in multiple translations with assorted cover options, and has 500 full-color illustrated verses with a 2 inch (lightly) lined margin on the non-illustrated pages. Some of the designs take up a whole double page spread, while others simply occupy the margins.

A Mash-Up | The Illustrator’s Note Taking Bible (HCSB) is a combination of Bible journaling and adult coloring books. Many of the illustrations are abstract patterns, like those in adult coloring books. While other pages have biblical line drawn illustrations with enlarged scripture quotes. There is silver gilding on the edges of the pages. The purple linen fabric cover is gorgeous and has stitching all around it.

Luxury Model | Interleaved with a whole blank page between each printed page, there is more room to be creative in this beauty. The cover is a luxurious soft brown leather with a wrap around flap and tie strap. The margin on the printed pages is still one inch, I know, not a lot of room, but enough for a little doodle here and a plea or praise there. The printing is double sided on the paper, 7.5 points in black. The next page is blank on both sides, and followed by page with double sided printing, and so on. That is the beauty, a whole blank page 6 ¼ inches wide by 9 ¼ tall for every spread. The genuine leather cover makes it suitable for a legacy Bible to leave the footprints of your faith journey for future family members. However, the price tag makes this out of reach for many.

I frequently compare passages in multiple translations, and end up journaling in one of the other translations much of the time. Reading a second and third (or more) translation really helps with understanding. I usually turn to The Message (MSG), for my quick recap of the passage since it is a paraphrased reading bible that uses language we use today. My favorite translation at the moment is the New Living Translation (NLT) which translates entire thoughts of the original passage (rather than just words) into everyday English. Of course, I also use the (NIV) as I mentioned before that it is my old Bible and is also in the pews at my church. A friend, introduced me to The Voice (VOICE), a screenplay style manuscript. That same friend pointed out that the King James (KJV) makes her read slower because of the thee’s and thou’s, thus increasing her comprehension.

However, some of my Journaling Bible entries are actually prayers – shout outs of thanksgiving, questions for my Lord, and pleas for help. Regardless of which version you choose, spending time in The Word is the point of this spiritual discipline. This is a book worth re-reading, so next time, you can switch it up with another choice. I would love to hear which one you use. Is it one of the above? If you have another that you recommend, share that too!

Below are some links to the Bibles mentioned above. Nancy Ingersoll is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Basic Black ESV Single Column Journaling BiblePersonal Reflections Bible with Swoon-worthy edgesInspire Large Print BibleBeautiful Word Bible with Color IllustrationsIllustrator’s Note Taking Bible with Purple Linen CoverLeather Bible with Flap & Strap Single Column

  1. […] a couple weeks ago, I gathered up an assortment of Journaling Bibles to review and compare them (in this post) so that anyone contemplating which to purchase had a side by side analysis from the same set of […]

  2. […] I bought a Bible, which has wide margins designed to provide a place for note taking (see my post here and here for Journaling Bible […]

  3. […] basic black, single column ESV Journaling Bible by Crossway. You can read about it and a few others here, as well as the next batch I got […]

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