At times I am concerned about the current trends in Bible publishing in that so many different versions and variations are being thrown at us for attention. The concern is that we are more enthralled by these trends than we are by the Word of God. However, some of these new innovations are extraordinarily helpful and contribute to our understanding and application of Scripture. One of my favorite trends right now is the journaling Bible.
The Journaling Experience
Holman Bible Publishers has picked up this trend with a version available both in the Christian Standard Version (previous edition and not the recently revised translation) and the New King James Version. Measuring 6.8″ x 8.5″, 1.5″ on the outside is lined for reader’s to journal their own thoughts and study notes. That means that more than 20% of the space is devoted to the journaling process! Like many Bibles, publishers have included several color maps, a one-year Bible reading plan, and a concordance. There are no study notes or cross-references, but instead the Bible is designed simply for the convenience of personal reflection and journaling.
The Writing Experience
While journaling is the process that one embarks on in these journals, the actual writing of information is an experience in itself. One can be thankful that the publishers placed the lined journaling portions on the outside of each page so there is no need to contort one’s hand in order write. The paper is weighted decently so that both transparency and bleeding are very limited, meaning when you write on one page, you don’t have to worry about it interfering with the next page. The quality provides a smooth glide for your pens (whether ballpoint, gel, fountain, or brush pen) and is quite strong to prevent tearing.
The Reading Experience
Publishers have chosen a font format that the majority of people will probably not find pleasing. Rather than being a bit more curvy and easy for the eyes to follow, the font is more of a block format that some will find cumbersome. For myself, I actually enjoy the font style, but that is a matter of preference. My one lament in the reading experience is that the publishers have chosen to follow the “words of Christ in read” format. As I have stated with other Bible reviews, this is not a deal breaker for me, however, it I am not a fan of it because it seems to elevate Christ’s spoken words above the rest of Scripture (and nevermind the fact that Christ is the Word and all the words should be then in red).
I like the concept of journaling Bibles and would generally recommend most of them that are available (as long as the translation is reliable) including this version. Publishers overall have done a good job with the New King James Version Journaling Bible, however, whether or not you should purchase/use this version is a personal decision that only you can make. Here are several considerations that you should take into account:
- Readability: Many people have their own preferred version that they like to use for their study of Scripture. Therefore it may be a matter of finding the version that you would like to use. I would recommend the following versions (click the links to see the variety of results): English Standard Version; New King James Version (as reviewed in this article); Holman Christian Standard Version (as of now, this is the previously version and not the recently revised version, although I expect this will be released soon).
- Portability: The New King James Version Journaling Bible is a bit bulky. Almost 2″ thick and 2.8lbs, for some this is just too much to carry around . . . although that is smaller than many of the Bibles people take with them to church every Sunday. Part of this comes from the hard cover that the publishers have chosen to utilize. Therefore, in terms of portability, there are some softcover ESV versions that are more conducive.
- Durability: The advantage of the hard cover is that it provides for a more durable product, which is beneficial if you plan on using it a lot or traveling around with it.
In reality, they are all great versions and the decision must be up to you. For myself, while I prefer something less bulky and would love to have different cover options, I have chosen to utilize the Holman Christian Standard Version as my journaling Bible. My main factor in this is that I prefer the translation. The HCSB Journaling Bible is actually the same format as the New King James Version, utilizing the same font, same layout, and same hard cover. So which will you choose? The decision is yours.
Aaron Armstrong has done a review in which he compares several different journaling Bible layouts. If you are considering the journaling Bible, I would recommend reading this article (click here). Note that the HCSB bible he reviews is the same as NKJV, just different translations.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the NKJV Notetaking Bible from the publisher at no cost for the purposes of review. However, that did not affect the review I gave, which is a result of my own observations and reading.