You may have seen images of Bible pages with masses of underlining on Instagram. Perhaps you’ve seen drawings and decorative texts on Bible pages when looking at Pinterest. And both come under the heading of journaling. Confused? Don’t be, I’m going to help you understand just what is Bible journaling, and what it isn’t.
Why Are There Two Types of Journaling?
For centuries Christians when studying their Bibles would underline meaningful verses. They would make notes beside the text, add relevant dates, and links to other passages of Scripture. Sometimes with an ink pen or in pencil.
Over the years book publishers have produced Bibles with wider margins for note-taking. Some Bibles have even been printed with blank paper inserted every other page. The variety of page layouts has expanded particularly in the last 10-15 years.
And as writing tools have become more sophisticated ie crayons, biros, gel pens, highlighters, so have their use. All the notes, underlinings and highlights you see today are called Bible Journaling.
Creativity in Bible Journaling
With the range of writing and colouring tools ever increasing as well as the page size, so has the desire to express creativity as the reader engages with the Word of God.
Many people were brought up to respect books and not write in them, and certainly not draw in them. The reverence for the Bible as a tangible object has even been classed by some as a form of idolatry.
However, the Christian truly values the God-inspired writings of His servants, not the physical book. To mark the page is not desecration. Writing in the margin is not adding to the Word of God. After all, where better to record your understanding, and response than right there on the page?
And remember decorating the Bible page is not new. It’s not a 21st Century phenomenon. Do a search online and look at the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages as you can see here for beautiful examples of creativity on the pages of Biblical text.
Bible journaling is the out-working of the inward action of absorbing God’s Word. It’s learning about the truths it contains and recording your findings next to the text. It’s about creating artwork highlighting a verse or passage that really speaks to you
So When Isn’t It Bible Journaling?
When the art process becomes more important than the study, more important than thinking about the Word of God.
- If you spend more time thinking about how to decorate the page than what the words mean.
- When you create a piece of artwork that isn’t the outward expression of your inward understanding.
- If you are hoping that your artwork will be admired on social media, it isn’t time spent worshipping God.
That isn’t journaling it’s you creating art. It isn’t time spent worshipping God, its you seeking artistic admiration
You may be using God-given creative skills but it is not Bible journaling.
Conclusion: So What is Bible Journaling?
It is simply you recording your response to the Word of God on the same page you are reading:
- by underlining text, adding notes, dates and cross-references.
- highlighting passages that are significant to you
- making notes on the study you are pursuing.
- illustrating the passage or verse that speaks to you using a variety of colouring mediums
- worshipping God in a creative process on the Bible page
It doesn’t have to be full of colour, drawings or even highlighting to be Bible Journaling. Your interaction with the Word of God can be recorded in any of the ways you feel most comfortable with doing. And sometimes trying something new can be that breathes new life into your Bible Study time.
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