Thinking Out Loud

February 5, 2016

“Treat Your Bible With Respect” vs. the Bible Journaling Trend

I’m not saying I don’t like this. Quite the opposite. I think it would cause me to be spending more time focusing on (i.e. meditating on) the words on the page. I’m just saying I think a lot of grandmothers are rolling over in their graves right now and a few retired Sunday School teachers are freaking out.

Bible Journaling 1

Bible Journaling 2

Bible Journaling 3

Bible Journaling 4

What do you think? There was another image I wanted to include here but there was a weird technical glitch each time I tried, and I couldn’t get the # of pixels to reduce using my usual tricks. For the record, available texts at the moment seem to be NIV and ESV. Many of the images I found on line were Mommy Bloggers who would fit the stereotypical Calvinist and ESV mindset. [Warning: Don’t take the bait on that last sentence… just quietly walk away.]

This is an interesting trend to be sure. It definitely is a women’s thing, though I’m sure some guys are doing it as well. The last picture above looks like the person had some graphic art training. And I’m sure there will be critics who hate anything new. [Internet trolls: This is your moment!] I just wonder what it says about our Bibles and how we interact with them. Ideas?



  1. I think it’s long overdue. Centuries ago, illuminated manuscripts would be made with art already drawn in them – like the Book of Kells. Back then there was an outlet for artists – from paintings of Bible scenes to sculpture. In recent decades, religious art seems to have fallen by the wayside. People are still artists though, and art is a wonderful way to praise God.
    Whether it’s a journaling Bible or a note-taking Bible that has every other word or verse underlined, highlighted, and circled – a well-used Bible shows a fair bit of devotion. I think it shows a far better treatment of Bibles than using the pages as rolling paper for drugs, not that I have mind you – I overheard a conversation about it ages ago and never forgot it.

    Comment by Jamie Carter — February 5, 2016 @ 8:52 am

    • Thanks, Jamie. The historical background is good to remember. Years ago calligrapher Timothy Botts did a family Bible with illustrations. What I believe is different here however is the way the drawing/coloring overlays the text.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — February 5, 2016 @ 9:05 am

      • Odds are millions of Bible have been printed throughout the centuries – it’s not going to hurt to have a few hundred thousand of them to be drawn in. There are still plenty of copies available with just the text; most people who have journaling Bibles have plenty of normal Bibles too. I get worried when we view the word as ‘too sacred’. I remember listening to a woman talking about when she was a little girl she wasn’t allowed to touch, let alone open or read her religion’s holy book, but her father would her little brother interact with it from a young age – she grew up to defy the rule that teachers of that book must be men. I just hope that we don’t make the same mistake. Sure, we’ll find something of God in the pages, but when I see that art, I see God’s word coming alive.

        Comment by Jamie Carter — February 5, 2016 @ 10:30 am

  2. In the beginning, God created….

    I’d like to think we honor our creator when we create, when we are creative.

    Only the person being creative knows the intention behind those creations, whether they are honoring God and His word, or if they are mindless distractions. I also know we are commanded not to judge, so as with most earthly issues we are in a delicate space of needing to tread with great wisdom and few words.

    Comment by MJ — February 5, 2016 @ 12:00 pm

  3. I love it, I have always coloured my Bible verses to make them easier to find, but this is a new/old, better to me an artist way of looking at the word… I am about to do it :)

    Comment by Maz Jackson — April 14, 2016 @ 11:54 pm

  4. Well… I am of “other thinking” here. I think that the drawing diminishes the rest of the Word on the page. It focuses on one verse or one theme. But as most know that really study the Word, it is like mining diamonds. You can really get so much more out of a chapter, a verse than one thought. Why diminish that with the first thing you see? I write in my Bible. I put notes in my Bible. But I can write more and continue to mine more and more out of the scripture. Just my thoughts. :o)

    Comment by TMW — May 25, 2016 @ 4:16 pm

    • It would distract me as well, all the drawings…but I think if you study the pages first and then add some color/ writing of what you learned…that would be OK. It could be a trigger to read and study the bible more. And as somebody else said – most people have more than one bible… I wouldn’t want to journal in my bible as the pages are so thin.. I’d rather use and old book with sturdier pages.

      Comment by Ellie Knol — January 31, 2017 @ 7:04 am

  5. I am fine with writing in your Bible or even drawling in the margins. It becomes a problem for me when people drawling start to cover up the scripture. If you want to do a big drawling that takes up the whole page, then do it on a separate sheet and stick it in between the pages. Don’t cover God’s word just so you have room for your art

    Comment by mackenzielizabeth — March 28, 2017 @ 8:59 am

  6. I certainly understand your concern. I have had the same concern when writing notes, thoughts, or questions on the pages of my Bible when studying. The Bible is holy, sacred, scripture. Am I disrespecting the text itself when I ruminate next to a verse, verses in a journal or notebook? I would like to believe that God appreciates my rumination more than not picking the text up at all and allowing it to grow dusty on a shelf. Still, like many believers, I have several Bibles, but try to keep my markings only in the one I study from. A compromise? Perhaps. I actually truly appreciate you bringing this very valid notion to the table. Thank you.

    Comment by Raena — November 17, 2017 @ 10:18 am

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