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How to Pick the Perfect Journaling Bible

bible journaling May 09, 2019
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Whether you’ve already decided you want a journaling Bible or you're just wondering what a journaling Bible is, you've come to the right place.   

Before we jump into all the details, let me just point out that a journaling Bible is just like a regular Bible in the text, but it also has wide margins on the sides so that you have place for note taking and artwork.  It’s a great place to write down what you’re learning and keep a record of the time you spend with Jesus. It has been life-changing for me and I hope it is for you too.

Let me preface this article by saying a journaling Bible with wide margins is nice, but there’s a lot you can do to get started Bible journaling even if you don’t have a journaling Bible.  You can use items you already have to create tip-in's in a regular Bible too. With that being said, let’s dive into the basics of the options you have when selecting a journaling Bible that is right for you.  

You may have seen a wide array of different journaling Bibles on social media and are quite possible overwhelmed by all the options.  On one hand it’s really nice that we have options, but on the other hand it can be daunting to make a choice, especially since it’s a significant investment. Not to worry, we’ll break it down and make it easy to narrow it down so you can make a purchase that you can be delighted with.

Note that some Bibles have double columns and some have single columns.

The rest of this article will spell out the details that go along with a handy journaling Bible Selection Tool that I created to help cut down on the confusion so you can choose the Bible that is perfect for you. You'll find more information about that free download at the bottom of this page.

1. The first thing to consider is which translation you’d like to read and study.  

Word-for word translations, such as the King James Version (KJV) and its modern counterpart the New King James Version (NKJV), most accurately follow the original text but they are sometimes difficult to understand because the English language has changed considerably in the 400 years since the KJV was first published.  The English Standard Version (ESV) is considered to be a word-for-word translation while at the same time taking into account differences in the way we speak today compared to the original languages.

For example, compare the same verse (Romans 12:2) in each of the three versions we’ve talked about so far.

  • King James Version (KJV): And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
  • New King James Version (NKJV): And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
  • English Standard Version (ESV):   Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Meaning for meaning translations such as New International Version (NIV) and New Living Translation (NLT) use more up-to-date language and are easier to understand, although they are not the best choice for establishing doctrine because at times they involve some interpretation of what the original writers intended to say.  Some caution should be used when working with these translation because considerable “poetic license” had been taken in interpreting biblical terms and passages according to their own personal religious ideas.

Like we did earlier: Read Romans 12:2 below and compare them to the verses in the word-for-word translations you read earlier.

  • New International Version (NIV): Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
  • New Living Translation (NLT): Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Lastly, Paraphrased versions such as the Living Bible and the Message can be considered and are helpful when trying to better grasp the story flow but should not be relied on exclusively to establish doctrine. They should be considered inadequate sources for accurately determining the meaning of any text.

Compare the same passage as before and you’ll notice the significant difference in the text:

  • The Message (MSG): So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to- work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
  • Living Bible (TLB): Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.

*Some people like to have more than one translation so they have one to study from and one to read from that’s easier to understand.  Knowing the differences between the texts will help you decide which of the versions will best meet your needs.

2. In addition to choosing which version you want, you’ll also have an option of whether you want artwork already drawn in the margins, or if you want to add your own artwork. 


 The Bibles that have artwork already in them are usually line drawings that you can color, and they have plenty of pages without illustrations so you can add you own if you’d like.  It can be the best of both worlds if you’re just getting started, but it might also leave you wishing you could write your own words in the margins that are already full.  It's something to think about.  

 Pictured left to right: HSBC Notetaking Bible, NLT Inspire Bible, KJV My Creative Bible

3. One other thing to consider is the size of font.  

Because there is a lot of space in the margins, many publishers have compensated for the need for extra space by making the font very small. There are a couple of options for those who want a larger font. I've listed them for you here for easy reference.

Large Print Journaling Bibles:

Regardless of the Bible version you choose, the most important factor is that you actually use it! As you spend more time reading the Bible, you will find that God’s Word becomes increasingly precious to you. You'll find the new you emerging into a stronger more confident person as you record and review the truths of God's word.  It's part of building a strong armor that will serve you in many areas of your personal life.

All this information can be a bit overwhelming, so to simplify it for you, I sat down and mapped out all of the above options and put it together in an easy to follow road map for you to use as you choose the journaling Bible that is right for you.

You can download it for free by clicking HERE.  If you have any questions at all after you've had a chance to shop around awhile, please feel free to contact me on my contact page.  




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