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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
jmcobbrnNovember 20, 2017 - 12:04 pm ·
I love this! Such a spectacular piece of work. Most definitely going to look into getting this.
Hillary RankinNovember 20, 2017 - 1:13 pm ·
So very cool! I love the look of this gorgeous Bible!! Thanks for all the sneak peeks!
Rebekah LoperNovember 20, 2017 - 10:14 pm ·
Bethany A. JenningsNovember 20, 2017 - 1:29 pm ·
Ohhhh, I’ve been eyeing this Bible!! I have more Bibles than I can shake a stick at (this isn’t a bad thing XD ) but I do want to enter to win it! 😀
Rebekah LoperNovember 20, 2017 - 10:15 pm ·
I have a lot of Bibles too, lol. Even so, this is a hard one to pass up.
Olivia HoferNovember 20, 2017 - 4:02 pm ·
Ooooooh, I love illuminated manuscripts, and this is beautiful! What a great way to draw you into the Word. I don’t really NEED another Bible, but… I need another Bible. XD
Rebekah LoperNovember 20, 2017 - 10:16 pm ·
Everyone needs an illuminated Bible! It’s incredible to think how easy it is for this to be a common item now, when they were so rare originally.
SharonNovember 20, 2017 - 4:07 pm ·
Looks beautiful! Thanks for sharing this review.
Rebekah LoperNovember 20, 2017 - 10:17 pm ·
Kelley PoundsNovember 20, 2017 - 5:36 pm ·
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.
Rebekah LoperNovember 20, 2017 - 6:42 pm ·
My grandmother has that book! I’ve skimmed through it, but not read the entire thing yet.
Beverly MardenNovember 20, 2017 - 8:57 pm ·
I want to learn bible Journaling. This Bible “GLOWS “. Makes me drool.
BethNovember 20, 2017 - 10:07 pm ·
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! ?❤️?
Rebekah LoperNovember 20, 2017 - 10:23 pm ·
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.
Elizabeth Van DeusenNovember 20, 2017 - 10:08 pm ·
Oh, that is really pretty! It definitely is too bad they didn’t put a family tree space in it. Absolutely gorgeous anyway, though.
Rebekah LoperNovember 20, 2017 - 10:28 pm ·
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.
Deanna FugettNovember 21, 2017 - 5:16 pm ·
KalebNovember 22, 2017 - 9:27 pm ·
This is a brilliant idea. Love the artwork too
Josh HNovember 23, 2017 - 6:56 pm ·
Wow! This is gorgeous!
MichelNovember 24, 2017 - 10:14 am ·
My brother would really appreciate this!
bethanyhbNovember 25, 2017 - 10:13 pm ·
I have not used a journaling Bible before, but this looks beautiful!
Shannon FinerNovember 25, 2017 - 10:38 pm ·
I’ve never used a journaling bible before! I’d love an ESV Bible!
Lisa GoforthNovember 26, 2017 - 6:16 pm ·
Thanks for the review! I definitely want one now!
TiffanyNovember 26, 2017 - 10:01 pm ·
Thanks for sharing the beautiful Bible. My family will love this illuminated heirloom. Blessings!
TiffanyNovember 26, 2017 - 10:43 pm ·
Hopefully, I will be able to learn more about Bible journaling.
LindaNovember 26, 2017 - 10:48 pm ·
The illuminated Bible is lovely. A journaling Bible is on my Christmas wish list. God Bless!
Jenny HamNovember 26, 2017 - 11:45 pm ·
Looks interesting no I have not used journaling before
Kelly woodsNovember 26, 2017 - 11:51 pm ·
I love this. I love taking notes in my Bible. Thank you!
Liesje Marie fennimoreNovember 26, 2017 - 11:55 pm ·
Beautiful & perfec for reflecting & sharing
Amber BourlandNovember 26, 2017 - 11:58 pm ·
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!