An Heirloom for the Future: the ESV Illuminated Bible

Not too long ago, I was given the opportunity to receive a free copy of the new ESV Illuminated Bible, in exchange for a review. The FTC wants me to make sure you know this, but believe me, reading this post is well worth your time if you’re any sort of historical book nerd, or you’re a Christian who has been looking for a nice Bible with a traditional feel to it (like I have been!)

The ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition places the full ESV text alongside over 500 elegantly hand-lettered gold ink illustrations by renowned artist Dana Tanamachi. Printed on thick, cream-colored paper, the Bible’s single-column text setting and wide margins provide generous space for additional notes, prayers, and designs—inviting readers to creatively engage with and reflect on the beauty of God’s Word.

When I opened this Bible up for the first time, after ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the beautiful slipcase and cloth-over-board cover on the book itself, the only thing that came to mind was how stunning this Bible is.

ESV Illuminated Bible review

I’ve been fascinated with illuminated manuscripts for a long time, though I’ve never formally studied them. As a person of Irish ancestry, the Book of Kells in particular has always been a draw to me. Recently, too, I’ve been drawn toward learning more about the ancient traditions of Christianity, and illuminated Bibles are part of that. I’ve been wanting a Bible that was beautiful, more than utilitarian, something that would help draw me into each day.

The ESV Illuminated Bible (Art Journaling Edition) is exactly that, for me. Each time I open it, I have to resist the urge to simply flip through every page – slowly, so as not to miss any! – and find all the artwork hidden in it.

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Now, I have a confession to make – I am not artistic in the slightest. I can write legibly, and sometimes semi-prettily, but drawing? Nope. Ain’t happening. But I do take a copious amount of notes when I am studying and praying, and so I put the pages of this (well, a page) to a test with my favorite pens – a Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen with a fine nib (currently filled with cheap black ink you can find at an office supply store), and a uniball Signo 0.4mm pen.

Verdict: the pages of this Bible may be moderately thick for Bible pages, but they are not THICK. If I was doing actual artwork on these pages, I would not use anything other than soft-lead colored pencils, and for notations I will not use anything heavier than the uniball I used in this test. I have another journaling Bible that has thicker pages than this one, but only by a bit.

My overall impressions of the ESV Illuminated Bible are:

This is a S.T.U.N.N.I.N.G. book.

I was kind of disappointed, with how finely crafted and nostalgic this was, that there wasn’t a spot for a family tree!

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This is definitely an heirloom that I want to pass on to someone – whether that is a child of mine, a dear friend’s child, or someone who simply needs a Bible when I don’t anymore.

The ESV Illuminated Bible is a modern treasure for generations of Christians to come.

If you’ve fallen in love with this Bible as much as I have (just through this post), then guess what?! There’s a giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner of the giveaway will be chosen on November 28, 2017.

Now, I’ve only made it necessary for you to leave a comment on this blog post to enter the giveaway. But if you’d LIKE to subscribe to my newsletter, and/or share this post with your friends, I’d greatly appreciate it! You don’t get any extra entries for doing so, though.

If you don’t want to wait for the giveaway to end, and just want to go ahead an order a copy (or several, for gifts!) of the ESV Illuminated Bible, you can do so on Amazon (affiliate link) or find another retailer at the ESV Illuminated Bible website.

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And, if you’re interested in learning more about how the ESV Illuminated Bible was made, here’s a short video you can watch:

How We Made the ESV Illuminated Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.

Thank you for visiting today! Have you used a journaling Bible before? If you’re a history/book nerd, do you have a favorite illustrated manuscript?

31 thoughts on “An Heirloom for the Future: the ESV Illuminated Bible

  1. Beautiful Bible! Loved watching the video as well. Since you have Irish ancestry, one book you might enjoy reading is How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. It goes into quite a bit of history about the importance of scribe monks in Ireland and their contribution to writing, literacy, and saving the written record of civilization while the rest of the world was falling into the dark ages.

  2. Hey Rebekah!

    First, this post totally drew me in because your leading image was SO great – kudos! I loved the lantern symbolism and the font of the first page spread you show reminded me of a wonderful old book I have from (ironically) Eureka Springs, where we met! It’s a cool old book from the 30s with a particular style that always stops me in my tracks.

    Anyway that’s a long rambly way of saying I’ve been looking for this book for a long time, and I’m SO grateful you shared it! Would love to receive a copy but will be tracking one down regardless.

    Hope you are well and love keeping up with you and your work! 🙌❤️🍷

    1. I love old books in general, they are crafted so differently and almost more lovingly than what we mass produce now.

      Would you believe that I took all these photos with my cell phone? LG puts some amazing cameras in their phones. I was amazed how well they turned out, though, with me as the photographer, lol.

      Thanks for dropping by, Beth! I’m doing mostly well – it’s been a heck of a painful year, but I’m hanging on, and things are looking up.

    1. The back side of the presentation and title pages are blank, so in THEORY, you could definitely still put in your own family tree. It just would have been an extra touch, I think, to make it MORE of an heirloom.

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  4. Amber Bourland

    I’ve never used a journaling Bible. I’d love to win this to give to a young couple getting ready to get married. I think there would be no better gift than the Word for them to start their life together with!

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