A Review of the ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal
Words by Dianne Jago
For Christians in the United States and other parts of the West, the precious Word of God is more accessible than ever before. Not only are there a variety of translations, but there are a variety of formats in which to read the text—including the increasingly popular journaling Bibles. I bought a double-column journaling Bible several years ago but found the limited space on the outside margins insufficient for my personal studies of Scripture. I didn’t like how far away the text was from my actual notetaking space and wanted something that offered more room. Creating separate, individual books of the Bible in journal format has been a product idea in my own mind, so I was thrilled when Crossway announced their new Illuminated Scripture Journals for each book of the New Testament. Here are three things I love about these journals:
We at Deeply Rooted are big fans of the English Standard Version. It is considered “an essentially literal translation of the Bible in contemporary English.” Over 100 evangelical scholars and pastors took the time to put this modern translation together and it’s become one of the most utilized translations today. The ESV is the default translation of our magazine, and we recommend it to all desiring “word for word accuracy” while maintaining understandability for the average reader.
If you are familiar with Deeply Rooted at all, then you know we love good design. Each New Testament journal comes with its own unique, gold-foiled illustration by talented artist Dana Tamanachi. I love the vision and process behind these journals:
“Throughout the creation process, artist Dana Tanamachi, along with a small team of researchers, pored over the biblical text, gathering themes, motifs, symbols, and imagery to use as a foundation for the artwork. Dana worked to incorporate these elements with the text in a way that honors the historical environment, context, and themes of each book. For example, she incorporated an illustration of a hyssop plant—the very branch on which Jesus was offered a drink while he was nailed to the cross—into the book opener for the Gospel of John.”
I absolutely love that the integrity of the message carries into their art. The thoughtful and intentional design flows into the interior pages with a mixture of full-page lettering and spot illustrations scattered throughout. Another neat detail is that each individual journal has its own unique color. The result of placing all the journals together, side by side, is a beautiful array and blend of earthy, muted colors—ranging from deep fuchsia all the way to olive green.
These Illuminated Journals remind me a little of Moleskin journals in size and format—but with Scripture! On the left side of each spread is the written Word of God, and on the right side is a lightly bullet-style pattern for note-taking. I started out using the book of Romans, and on my first page I have a list of Paul’s prayers for the Romans as well as a bubble-chart breakdown of the gospel message as I encountered it in verses throughout the first chapter. While I do scribble notes in my study Bible (which I would consider my primary means of reading Scripture), I love having the space in the Illuminated Journals to expound on individual verses and clearly write out any cross-references or thoughts.
These journals give you the freedom and space to really focus in on a book of the Bible apart from hand-copying into a separate notebook or trying to squeeze it into your Bible margins. The journal is light enough to carry around and would be great for a church or women’s Bible study going through a book of the Bible verse by verse. I actually bought several to give out as Christmas gifts last year. And the best part? The price point is absolutely affordable. Each book has a flat rate price of $5.99, no matter how thick or thin. I loved these journals so much, I decided Deeply Rooted needs to carry some in our shop!