I am a Bible writer. I don’t mean that I write Bibles, but that I write in Bibles. I love to underline, draw arrows and write in margins. It preserves a moment in time of my study. I can look back and get a refresher of the insights I have had previously as I read again and listen to what new insights God has for me this time. The problem with most Bibles is the white-space available to write in is very limited—sometimes to the point of being virtually non-existent. Enter the ESV Journaling New Testament, Inductive Edition. Here is Crossway’s description:
“A new addition to the family of ESV Journaling Bibles, the ESV Journaling New Testament, Inductive Edition features extra space for notes in between each line of Bible text, offering a fresh and distinctive way to engage with God’s Word. This single-column Bible is designed to make it easy to interact with every individual verse, making it a great option for pastors, students, and anyone who loves going in-depth with Scripture.”
Now, I am not an ESV fanboy. It is a solid translation that I can readily recommend as reliable and worthy of study. I use it often myself. However, it isn’t my top pick of translations due to readability in some places and a few translation choices. That being said, no other Bible publisher has produced the variety of Bible editions geared towards study and engagement as Crossway. This alone leads me to use the ESV in many instances simply due to the inviting layouts and quality bindings. The ESV Journaling New Testament (from here on Journaling NT) is no exception.
Overview of the Specs
- Overall Size: 6.5” x 9”
- Font: 9.5-point, Lexicon Type
- Length: 928 pages
- Single-column, paragraph format
- 3/8-inch space in between each line of Bible text
- Cream-colored paper
- One Ribbon Marker
- Smyth-sewn binding
- Packaging: Cardboard Slipcase (for TruTone Binding)
The Journaling NT is available in two different bindings. The copy I am reviewing is the TruTone Brown/Cordovan Portfolio Design. TruTone is a synthetic, leather-like binding that I have found to be quite durable with heavy use in previous Bibles and would expect it to be so with this edition as well. (Update: It has been made available in another TruTone color choice: Burgundy/Red). It has good flexibility and lays flat on the table right out of the box. The other binding is a black hardcover with a strap. It is similar in look and feel to a Moleskine type notebook. Each binding option has a glued paper liner and one ribbon marker. I do wish that they had offered at least two ribbon markers in this volume—three would have been excellent. I find that while studying it is not uncommon for me to have two or three places marked as I go back and forth comparing passages. The binding is smyth-sewn and not glued. This should allow the Bible to stand up to serious use without easily breaking down.
Paper, Font, and Readability
I find the font size to be adequate and easy to read. The black on cream paper is appealing. The Journaling NT uses a heavier weight paper than is normal with most Bibles. This combined with the use of line-matching in the printing process reduces the problem of ghosting which is common in Bible printing. Since I only recently purchased the Journaling NT, I have not had a chance to test which pens are best for writing with limited bleed-through. I will update this section after some real-world testing.
The Journaling NT is presented in a single-column, paragraph format which has become my preference for Bibles over the traditional two-column format.
The Journaling NT is a comfortable size and weight for holding as one reads or teaches. Since it is limited to only the New Testament, Crossway has been able to add the extra white space while still keeping the dimensions to a manageable size. The TruTone binding lies nicely in one hand, although the cover is slightly slick and the Bible can slip if you are not careful.
The main reason for purchasing this volume is note-taking. Where the Journaling NT shines above other journaling type Bible editions is the spacing left between the lines. Many journaling Bibles are designed by shrinking the text and setting it to one side of the page while leaving a larger than normal outside column for taking notes. Although this is useful, it can be difficult to get your notes right where you want them. Also, the text tends to be on the small side which is too small for my eyes to read comfortably at times. The Journaling NT leaves a 3/8 inch space between each line. This is perfect for writing notes inline with the text. It also offers a generous 1-1/4 inch outside column to record your insights.
Since this Bible is designed and marketed as an Inductive Bible, the references are kept to a minimum—limited to a few notations about alternative readings, translations, and manuscripts, as well as some references to direct quotes from other parts of the Bible. These notes can be found at the bottom of their respective page.
The Journaling NT lives up to my expectations of initial quality and design layout and I look forward to many years of useful study time with this volume. As I put it through its paces with real-world use, I will update this review with pertinent observations that you might find useful. To live unleashed, we have to engage God in His Word. This ESV Journaling New Testament will make a wonderful companion to help you do just that. I highly recommend this volume.