ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal New Testament Set Review

ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal New Testament Set is a set of 19 journals that contain the full text of the ESV New Testament. This cross between the ESV Illuminated Bible Art Journaling Edition and the ESV Scripture Journal: New Testament Boxed Set is a beautiful place to record prayers, Bible notes, or creatively journal with words or pictures. The set comes with a 2-piece cardboard slipcover and was printed in China.

Each book has gold foil on the cover and gold accents within and is also available for purchase individually.

ISBN: 9781433564994


This book is available at (includes some affiliate links)



and many local Bible bookstores


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The covers are thick cardboard in various colors with a different large gold foil illustration on each cover. The colors form a muted rainbow that runs from red through purple and blue and ends with green when arranged in order. The book’s pages are sewn together and glued into the covers. Each book measures 8” x 5.75” with varying thickness.

The paper is very thick and extremely opaque. It is noticeably thicker than the paper in a standard journaling Bible. It’s cream colored and not as dark or quite as yellow as the paper in the ESV Illuminated Bible. This paper should stand up to any art supplies or pens that work with a typical journaling Bible and a few extra as well. My stamp pad inks had less show through and no bleed through in these journals (They usually require gesso or some other product that forms a barrier in my other Bibles) The paper doesn’t glare under direct lighting. There are 1 to 3 blank pages in the back of each book.

The set comes in a box within a box. It’s made of thick black cardboard and has gold foil stamping to coordinate with the books. The outer box slides upward and it great for protecting the books while moving or storing them but I’m not always sure where to put it while I’m using the set.

The inner box allows you to see the spines of all the books and is perfectly sized, with all the books held upright while still being large enough to grab a book (or put one back) without struggling with it. The names of the books are easy to read and the gradual progression of colors helps you put them back in order.

Layout and Typography

The text is presented in a single column on the left page. Scripture is set in paragraph format with poetry set to stanzas and Old Testament quotes indented to be easy to spot. The header has a guide reference in the outer corner and the page number in the center both in gold ink.

The right page has a light dot grid, like what is typically found in bullet journals. This is much better for hand lettering, which tends to vary in size, and artwork than lines (even light ones) would have been. I have to admit that at first glance I thought the right pages were blank. If you want to make full use of the grid you’ll want to make sure your lighting highlights it. If you are more the freeform type you’ll have no trouble ignoring it.

The typeface is 11.75 and is a consistent dark black. It contrasts with the paper well and is easy to read for long periods of time. References or footnotes are not included but it does include section headings in gold ink. Verse numbers are in a bold superscript that, for me, makes them easy to locate when I want them but not so noticeable to be distracting when I’m reading large portions of the Bible.

Each book includes the shortened ESV Preface. The text appears to be line matched but with this thick of paper, it’s extremely hard to see anything more than a page or two deep to confirm that.

All of the larger books have their own journal. Many of the smaller books have been combined  2 or 3 to a volume. It’s worth noting that when they combined books two of them were moved out of standard Biblical order. Philemon is with Colossians (instead of after Titus) and Jude was bound with 1st and 2nd Peter (instead of being after 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John).  I can’t see this being a problem for me as long as I remember where to go.

Artwork and Comparisons

The artwork is primarily done by renowned artist Dana Tanamachi. The Illustration on each cover symbolizes something within that book, sometimes highlighting a passage or two and sometimes highlighting a major theme of the book. Matthew has both mustard seeds and the flowering branches of the mustard plant while Revelation has an ornate door with trumpets and keys and many other symbols from Revelation.

These are very different in appearance to the ESV Scripture Journal New Testament Set books but almost identical in size and layout. The text is laid out the same (just with a few gold highlights) and the pages are even numbered the same until you reach a full-page illustration.

With lined pages and plainer covers, the black set seems designed more for study and sermon notes.  The colorful illuminated set, with it’s dot grid and gold illustrations, seems designed for more personal reflection and expression.

If you know which book you want to read from and work in, the individual books would be easier to carry with you than the ESV Illuminated Bible Art Journaling Edition.

Most of the artwork from the New Testament portion of the Illuminated Bible is in this set though they have changed which portion is gold for a few of them. The only things missing are the drop caps and icons from the first page of each book and the full page illustration from the beginning of a few books when they put them together in one volume.

The full-page illustrated verses are included on the left side between pages of text.

And all of the beautiful hand-lettered verses from the margins are on the right-hand pages with lots of room left over for your own work.

Even all the flourishes and greenery (in gold) are included. I know I’ll journal around these on some pages but I’m looking forward to incorporating them in my artwork in a few cases and using them as inspiration for my style or theme in others.


The ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal New Testament Set is a beautiful New Testament that invites you to both read and interact with God’s Word. It is an excellent choice for those who like to do individual book studies and those who don’t have enough room for all their ideas (notes, prayers, artwork) in a typical journaling Bible. The frequent use of gold ink and incorporation of symbolism gives it a feeling of legacy while the colored covers and well-designed layout help keep it fun and extremely functional. It’s a beautiful blend of traditional and modern that is sure to find a welcome spot in many Bible collections. I personally hope an Old Testament set will be coming before too long.


This book is available at (includes some affiliate links)



and many local Bible bookstores


Pictures by Lucinda Brown

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.

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