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ESV Scripture Journal Set with Art by Ruth Chou Simons


Crossway has released a new ESV Scripture Journal Set with cover art by Ruth Chou Simons. Each journal features the ESV text on the left side with a lightly lined page to the right for journaling or note taking. This 19-volume New Testament is only available as a set.

ISBN: 9781433581656  Printed in China

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


This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)



and many local Bible bookstores


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Video Review

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Construction and Materials

This ESV Scripture Journal Set contains the full text of the ESV New Testament divided into 19 volumes. They are easily arranged into Biblical order with the help of the slowly changing colors of the spines that shift from green to an orangey earth tone and then fade to cream. The inside of the covers matches the spines.

Two books of the Bible will be out of order since Philemon is placed in the same book with Colossians and Jude is with 1 & 2 Peter.

Each volume measures 8″ x 5 1/2″  but the thickness varies from about 1/8″ to 1/2″. Every volume features different artwork.

Each journal is made from sewn signatures glued into a thick matte cardstock cover.

The paper is a soft cream and about 80 gsm. This is fairly standard for this style of journals and noticeably thicker than most Bible paper. It seems like it will work well with most Bible-friendly pens and markers. I will definitely be using my colored pencils in my set and will probably end up trying watercolor pencils or paints as well.

The covers each have these two lines of light scoring, front and back, as part of the lay flat design. I find that this does make them easier to hold open or to lay on a table. They don’t however lay flat at the first or last few pages straight out of the box. You have to work with them a bit and bend them purposefully at these score marks for that to happen.

The 19-volume set comes in two separate thick cardboard boxes. Both are decorated with artwork by Ruth Chou Simons featuring orange flowers, birds, and lots of greenery.

The inner box is open on the side where you can see the spines of all 19 volumes. The sides slant back slightly to expose just enough of the top of the journals to make them easier to get out of the box. The ESV logo and Scripture Journal New Testament Set are printed in gold on both sides of the box. I can see most people using just this box if they regularly use the journals.

The outer box is open at the bottom and slips down over the journals and inner box. The ESV logo and Scripture Journal New Testament Set are printed in gold on the front. The ISBN and a small promotional write-up are printed on the back of the box. This box is great for added protection from dust or if you are taking the whole set with you somewhere but might be a bit awkward to use on a daily basis. It does seem sturdy enough to set under the set as a place to store other journaling and notetaking supplies if you have room on your desk or shelf.

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Typography and Layout

They use an 11.75-point font in the ESV Scripture Journal Set. It is all black letter text with very consistent ink darkness. Italics are used for section headings.

It is laid out in a single-column paragraph format with the text only on the left side. Chapter numbers are 2 lines high and verse numbers are small but lightly bolded.

The header includes the reference for the first full verse on the page in the outer left-hand corner with the page number centered over the text. There are no footnotes.

The right side page is lightly lined to make it easy for note-taking or journaling thoughts, prayers, and/or images. There are a varying number of extra lined sheets in the back of each volume as well. These would be useful for outlines, charts, and longer notes. (They are also great for testing pens and art mediums).


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Cover Art

Each volume cover has a floral image at the top with the name (or names) of the book hand lettered underneath. Then there is a larger image under the name. All of this artwork was done by Ruth Chou Simons and both images were designed specifically for the book(s) included.

The covers are done using the same greens, muted oranges and blues, and earth tones found in the box art. This similarity of colors makes it feel like a true set even when the artwork’s subject matter is very different.

I love the artwork on this set. I think it’s restful, beautiful, and inviting. Very fitting for the Word of God, in my opinion.

I’ve been a reader of Ruth Chou Simons’s blog and a fan of her artwork for many years. I haven’t read all of her books yet, but there are a few on my current To Be Read list. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review this set.

The same artwork is mirrored on the back cover without the name of the book of the Bible between the two pictures.

A brief description of what the painting is of and how it ties in with that book of the Bible is included inside the back cover of each journal. I love this added feature. Some of the symbolism of the artwork would be easy to figure out without these notes (flaming clouds for Pentecost, sheep representing Jesus as the Good Shepherd). I did not know the symbolic meaning of many of the flowers Ruth mentions in these descriptions, however. It is also helpful when a specific verse the image is tied to is given or to be told the significance of the image to the artist.


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To the ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal New Testament Set

As soon as I knew they were making the ESV Scripture Journal Set with cover art by Ruth Chou Simons I planned on comparing it to the ESV Illuminated Scripture Journal New Testament Set.

The two sets have a very different feel both in the box and individual volumes. Both of them are beautiful. Some will prefer the bright colors and gold almost Art Deco look of the Illuminated Set. Others will prefer the softer colors and softer watercolor artwork done by Ruth Chou Simons.

The font size and page layout are identical. So are the color and thickness of the paper. If any of your fancy pens and art mediums worked in the older journals they will work in these as well.

The journaling page is noticeably different. The Illuminated Set has a dot grid instead of being lightly lined and several of the journaling pages already have a small gold illustrated verse.

There are also full-page illustrated verses in the Illuminated Set. One per book of the Bible which means there are 2 or 3 in some of the journals. Since the journals are identical in size these take the place of some of the lined pages in the back of the journals with Ruth’s artwork.

Style of artwork and more room to write versus Illuminated golden artwork are the two deciding factors for which one will be better for you.

To the ESV Scripture Journal: New Testament Boxed Set

The ESV Scripture Journal Set with cover art by Ruth Chou Simons is even more similar to the original black ESV Scripture Journal: New Testament Boxed Set.

The only difference between these two sets is the covers. Text layout, font size, pagination, paper, and lined pages to write on are identical including the number of extra pages in the back.

I personally prefer the soft-colored floral colors to the black but I am well aware many others (including Randy) would rather use black. The other advantages to the black set are a matching Old Testament Set and the ability to replace individual volumes if you want to do a different study or if something happens to one of the books.

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Final Thoughts on the ESV Scripture Journal Set with artwork by Ruth Chou Simons

The ESV Scripture Journal Set with cover art by Ruth Chou Simons is beautiful. It would work great as a way to journal or take notes while doing a book-by-book reading or study of the New Testament. Any Christian who likes this style of art would probably love them as a gift.

Since the volumes are not currently available individually I will be slightly more careful carrying or using these individual books than I have been with books that are more easily replaced but I greatly look forward to many hours of reflecting on God’s Word using this ESV Scripture Journal Set.

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This Bible is available at (includes some affiliate links)



and many local Bible bookstores



Photography by Lucinda Brown

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

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