Review: ESV Journaling Bible

I love the English Standard Version Bible. In my personal reading and study and in my preaching and other ministry, this is the primary version I use. I’m thankful to God for such a literal yet readable translation. So I was happy to receive a free copy of the ESV Journaling Bible published by Crossway to review.

I’m not reviewing the text of Scripture, here, but let me offer some brief thoughts on why the ESV is a worthy translation. It’s not a perfect translation. You should consult other trusted translations (e.g. NIV, NASB, HCSB). We are spoiled with how many good translations we have in English. But to me, the ESV is head and shoulders above the rest. Here are a few thoughts, which I can thank Kevin DeYoung for. The ESV uses an “essentially literal” philosophy, which makes it more transparent of an translation than other options. Embedded into this philosophy is, what I call, the ambiguity principle (this is a good thing!). In other words, the reader must wrestle with the text because the ESV translators translate not interpret. This means that the ESV does less “over-translation” (trying to communicate more than what was intended) and less “under-translation” (watering down words with deep meanings) than other versions.

The ESV also seeks to keep translation of a word in context the same throughout a passage a book. First John 2:10, 24, for example translates the same Greek word (menō) as “abide,” whereas the NIV translates it as “lives” and “remain(s).”

Finally, the ESV retains more of the literary qualities of the Bible. The Bible is a divine book, but also a human one. Figures of speech are less likely to be removed of their earthiness or tangibility in the ESV. Again, the ambiguity principle! Compare Ps. 35:10, 73:10; 78:33; and Pr. 27:6 in the ESV and NIV for examples.

Now let me offer some bullet-point thoughts on the layout and aesthetics of the Journaling Bible.

  • It comes in a beautifully designed cardboard case for safe keeping.
  • The cover is hardboard with a cloth overlay. There are nine different design options.
  • Other than the ESV text, this edition includes articles on why to read the Bible, what the Bible says about certain topics, God’s plan of salvation, introductions to each of the 66 biblical books, and a one-year Bible reading plan.
  • There are no cross references in the ESV text, but there are footnotes which point out textual variants or alternative meanings of various Hebrew/Greek words.
  • The point size of the Scripture text is a fairly small. This would be my only negative critique. I would suppose this is inevitable because, of course, room needs to be made for the 2-inch ruled margins for journaling. If your eyes are growing ever less dependable, this might not be the Bible edition for you.

Simply put: it’s another wonderful, beautiful, helpful Bible edition from Crossway.

The good news is you can get in on this! I’m giving away a FREE copy of the ESV Journaling Bible (in the blue flora design). Here’s how you can win. You get one “entry” for each thing you do:

  1. “Like” this post below.
  2. Link back to this post on your blog.
  3. Share this post on Facebook.
  4. Share this post on Twitter.
  5. Subscribe to my blog (you can do that here or click “Follow” at the bottom of this page). If you already do, let me know if your comment below.
  6. Follow me on Twitter. If you already do, let me know in your comment below.
  7. Comment on this post and 1) tell me why you could use a free journaling Bible, and 2) which of the above entries you did.

You have until Friday, November 13 at 5pm to enter. A winner will be announced on Monday, November 16. Good luck!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.


7 replies on “Review: ESV Journaling Bible”

Great review, James. I’ve recently started reading the ESV with my reading plans for a change from NIV. We already follow each other on Twitter. Posted on Twitter, shared on FB. Subscribed to your blog. You could give me the Bible to avoid any awkwardness when we see each other at Fall Retreat this weekend. :-) I do need to improve on the spiritual discipline of journaling, but I’ve got a journal. So go ahead and give it to someone else.


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