Alan Jacobs writes about Bibles in a recent newsletter. He mentions the Illuminated version of the ESV that was illustrated by Dana Tanamachi. That caught my eye as that’s the Bible I’m currently using (and thanks to an ordering gaffe, so is my wife — I bought two copies).

He very briefly gets into how it can be hard to mark up these nice Bibles that are works of art.

I myself own some beautifully bound Bibles, but I am always slightly uneasy about them. They are precious, but that’s a word with several meanings, and all of them are operative here.

But he is open to trying new things in a plainer version that focuses on reading:

For the last couple of years my everyday Bible has been this ESV Reader’s Edition, a plain hardcover that’s printed and bound like a novel or a work of history. I typically do not use highlighters, but I’ve been doing this little experiment in which I go through the Bible to isolate certain themes. For instance, the blue highlighting marks passages that relate to N. T. Wright’s comprehensive (some might say rather too comprehensive) account of the Big Story of the Bible; the green marks passages that deal with Christology. I also have been marking in a different color the passages that deal with what St. Paul calls the “principalities and powers,” a topic I am profoundly interested in. It’s nice to have a Bible around that’s marked up in this particular way. Perhaps later I will add new themes, and use new colors to identify them.

I share his struggles. I do underline some passages, but hesitate to add more. Part of this is due to my unsightly handwriting and lack of drawing ability. It’s also partly due that most of my more permanent notes go into a digital tool (Ulysses, for the record).

But my wife has no such compunctions. She’s add notes anyway, anywhere — and they look good (see below).

Some people nicely mark up their Bibles

I admire her tenacity to work out the text on the paper with which she reads it!

If this topic is at all an interest to you, you might also enjoy Jacobs writing about Crossway and the ESV as well.