Ever since I heard about Jonathan Edwards’ blank Bible he used for taking notes, I have been fascinated with interleaved Bibles. In my experience, there have been very few of them. When I found out that Crossway was releasing one for the ESV, I was very excited! As always, Crossway has gone above and beyond in delivering a great Bible.
For the basics, the ESV Journaling Bible Interleaved Edition comes in several editions. I received the tan cloth over board edition, and it arrived in a sturdy slipcase.
The layout on them all is a double-column text in a smyth-sewn binding. The type size is smaller than most at 7.5 font, but it has to be for the size of the Bible. In terms of thickness, it is about as thick as the ESV Study Bible. This is due to a couple of factors. One is that there is a blank page inserted between every page of text (more on this later). The other is that the paper itself is thicker than traditional Bible paper, which is great for taking notes without bleed through or ghosting. For most people, this will be a Bible that stays at home instead of being carried around to church and Bible studies. The paper is cream colored, which I am appreciating more and more in Bibles. It does come with one brown ribbon bookmark.
One of the first things I noticed when checking this Bible is the text edition change. I expected to see that it was the 2011 text edition. Instead, I saw that it is the “ESV Permanent Text Edition (2016).”
A few weeks later a Web page was created on the Crossway site that explains the edition. You can read the page here. There were changes to 29 verses (52 words total). This will be the definitive edition of the ESV, with no more forthcoming changes from Crossway. As someone who tries to commit large passages to memory, I am actually pleased with this decision, although I can understand the need for further revisions with new manuscript discoveries and/or insights into Greek and Hebrew.
The selling point of this Bible is that it includes one blank page for every page of Scripture. For those who like to take notes, make cross references, or draw in the Bible, this space should be more than enough for a lifetime of note taking.
At this point, it has not been decided whether this Bible will be mine or my wife’s. She tends to write in her Bibles more than I do, so it will probably become hers. In order to keep from writing notes she may not want later, I tested the writing on the Introduction page of the Bible and the reverse of that page.
What I really like about the format of this note-taking Bible is that it is not text on one side and blank on the other, but each page either has text on both sides or is blank on both sides. I think this was a great decision on Crossway’s part. When you write over the text (underlining, circling, etc.), the text on the other side helps hide it from show through or ghosting. The writing in the blank parts show through more, but it will only occur in the margins and on the blank pages of notes, so it won’t distract from reading the text of Scripture itself. I tested three different pens and a highlighter, which you can see below. There is some ghosting, but I noticed no bleed through. (At least with the pens that I tested. Other pens may have different results.) The pictures below are how the two sides of one page looked for me. The circle on the blank page was drawn so I could see if I could spot it on the text side on the reverse; I really couldn’t.
If you love writing in your Bible, but don’t like the bleeding and ghosting that appears with most of them, or if you feel like there isn’t enough space in traditional Bibles for the notes you want to make, the ESV Journaling Bible Interleaved Edition would be perfect for you!
*I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.