ESV Illuminated Bible Art Journaling Edition Review

I recently received a copy of Crossway’s  new ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition. With hundreds of gold ink illustrations by renowned artist Dana Tanamachi, this Bible is a unique addition to the Bible market that’s designed to help you reflect on the beauty of God’s Word.

ISBN: 9781433558313

Crossway provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.


This book is available at (includes some affiliate links)




and many local Bible bookstores



I have the navy cloth over board edition. It measures 9.25″ x 6.75″ x 1.85″ and weighs 3 pounds, 5 ounces. A matching cardboard slipcover is included. It is made in China.

It has a sewn binding. I like the pattern on the end papers, it’s subtle but matches the design of the artwork well.

We are guessing the paper to be about 36 or 38 gsm (maybe slightly higher?). It has a light creamy color, is easy to turn, and is silky smooth. (Both Randy and I really like this paper.)

Gold is definitely a major element of this Bible’s design. The pages edges are gold gilt and all the illustrations and text on both the Bible exterior and the slipcover are gold.

This Bible is also available in a green hardcover binding, a deep red TruTone imitation leather binding, and a black top grain leather binding. (The top grain leather is limited edition and will be much harder to locate.)


The ESV text is set in single-column paragraph format. Poetry is set in stanzas and quotes are offset. There is a 2-inch wide outer margin.

It has a 9 point font. Verse numbers and all text are in black. The black ink is a medium darkness and was easy for me to read both at home and at church. Both the black and god inking is very consistent throughout the Bible.

The first chapter of each book has a specially designed gold drop cap.

Continuing the gold theme the section headings and chapter numbers are done in gold ink. The page numbers that are centered under the text block and reference verses that are at the outer top edge of the text are also in gold.


The ESV Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition was created to continue in the historic tradition of illuminated manuscripts. Starting in the 5th century and continuing through the Middle Ages, Bibles were illuminated (hand-illustrated) with rich pigments and metallic inks. This was done not just to beautify but also to summarize, explain, and preserve the Bible’s message in an age when few could read.

Dana Tanamachi and a small team of researchers gathered Biblical symbols and imagery for the foundation of the artwork. Then each illustration was carefully hand-drawn incorporating the style of ancient illuminations as well as historic influences from the late 19th and early 20th century (like the Arts and Crafts movement, the art nouveau period, and Victorian typography)

All of the artwork is printed in gold ink and includes:

64 Book-Opener Illustrations – each illustration highlights a major story or theme of the corresponding book.

A Drop Cap for each book that matches the design of the book-opener illustration. Notice the drop cap for Luke matches the leaves and flowers of the page opposite while this I drop cap from Acts looks more like flames, a major theme of Acts book-opener illustration.

50 Full Page Verse Illustrations

Over 250 Hand Lettered Margin Verses -these use a wide variety of lettering styles.

and over 100 other small illustrations.

This Bible is beautiful and usable just the way it is. Its creators are hoping though that all the illumination included will encourage the reader to not just reflect on God’s Word but react to it as well. The wide margins are meant to be used for words or illustrations of your own.

I really like the artwork in this Bible. Crossway has pictures of people adding color to the gold illustrations but I haven’t been brave enough to try that yet.  I will definitely be spending some time looking closely at these illustrations and using them for inspiration for my own lettering and drawings.


The Index of title pages includes a small version of every book-introduction illustration plus a brief explanation of the symbolism used and the aspect of the book being represented.


The ESV Illuminated Bible is a beautiful new journaling Bible. The gold ink and historically inspired artwork give it a very elegant feel. It would make an excellent choice for a legacy Bible (adding notes or artwork for the purpose of making a Bible to inspire your children or others) but it is useful for much more than that. The paragraph format makes it useful as a main reading Bible and the thick paper and wide margins make it a good choice for a study Bible you journal directly in. This Bible would make an excellent gift and a nice addition to many Bible collections.


This book is available at (includes some affiliate links)




and many local Bible bookstores


Photography by hannah C brown except the picture of all four covers which was provided by Crossway

Crossway provided this Bible free for review. I was not required to give a positive review, only an honest one. All opinions are my own.

About The Author

Lucinda Brown

Homemaker, Pastor's Wife, and former homeschooler (my kids graduated). I love to read (especially God's Word) but am a reluctant writer. Besides reading I enjoy cooking, gardening, and a large variety of crafts. I don't consider myself an expert at any craft and am always finding new crafts and art mediums I want to try.


  1. Jeremy Sarber

    I love this Bible. I even considered buying it to use while preaching. The wide margins and single-column text are great, but I settled on one of Crossway’s Journaling Bibles. I wouldn’t mind using this edition as a coffeetable Bible the family actually uses.

    • Randy A Brown

      It would be a great coffee table Bible. The paper and print are amazing.


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