I’ve recently been using Holman’s HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible.


Holman’s version of a creative journaling Bible has many similarities to the other Bibles on the market and a few differences.



Buy From:

Barnes & Noble

and many local Bible bookstores




The HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible has a bonded leather over board cover in warm brown. (Also available in purple linen over board) It has one matching ribbon bookmark and measures 8.5″ x 6.6″ x 1.5″ and weighs 2 pounds and 5.5 ounces.


It has a sewn binding with overcasting.


The liners are thick paper with the same geometric drawing in the front and back. With it’s gilt edges and plain cover it is not as obviously an illustrated Bible or as feminine looking as most of the rest of the creative Bibles produced so far.



It has 38 gsm (approx) paper in the creamy white common to journaling Bibles. The pages turn easily and the edges have a gold gilt finish.





It has an 8 point font with decent leading space and a medium darkness to the text. Poetry in set in stanzas and lists, letters, and quotes are offset and easy to identify. Upper outside corners have book name and chapter numbers but don’t indicate verses. The lower outside corners have the page numbers.


It includes an illustrated presentation page


and a double column lined page at the beginning of both Testaments.


This Bible has more illustrations then most of the creative journaling bibles. Every two page spread contains some form of artwork. The artwork comes in three basic varieties:

scripture quotes,



drawings (that illustrate specific texts),




and filigree.




The filigree is the most common of the three and not text specific. Some of the filigree is very geometric, some very organic looking (flowers and leaves mostly), and some is almost architectural in appearance. Since the filigree is not keyed to the texts they have sometimes used the same illustrations on more than one page. They haven’t overused any of the filigree though, 4 is the most times I’ve counted one being reused , and in over 650 illustrations that’s barely noticeable unless you are looking for it.


Not all the illustrations take up the entire margin. Some margins are partially lined and contain smaller drawings.



The drawings are printed noticeably lighter than the text. They are somewhat lighter than the illustrations in other creative Bibles. This will be a good thing if you want to alter a drawing slightly or cover it up to create your own work. It will mean tracing at least some of the lines back in for visibility or emphasis or being very careful when using art mediums with a high amount of coverage though.




Bullet Notes are a standard feature of the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation. Every so often through the text you’ll find a word with a bullet point next to it. These indicate a frequently used biblical word or term that they have included an explanation of in the back. They keep the text cleaner by only giving you a bullet point the first time the word occurs in a passage. The glossary (or Bullet Notes list) only occasionally gives references.



The included reading plan has a reading from Psalms for every Sunday and a reading from both the Old and New Testaments for the other six days of the week to read the Bible through in a year. If you wanted to go slower you could read the Old Testament one year and the New Testament the next (reading through Psalms both years most likely). It has boxes for you to check off the readings you’ve done and includes week numbers rather than specific dates, making it easier to start at any time.



It has a 49 page concordance in triple column format. Topical entries are given for people and places. Words that are used as more than one part of speech are given separate entries for each.

Here are a few sample entries with the number of references to help you compare:

  • Christ (See also Messiah) – 15
  • Christian  – 2
  • Faith – 10
  • Faithful – 6
  • Faithfulness – 2
  • Faithless – 1
  • God – 13
  • Godliness – 1
  • Jesus – 42 references divided between 15 topics
  • Praise (N) – 4
  • Praise (V) – 6
  • Pray  – 8
  • Prayer – 5



There are 8 pages of full-color maps on thick non-glossy paper. These are the same maps found in other Holman bibles and they include topography, distance, routes, borders, water, cities, Scripture references, and annotations.

The maps included are:

  • The Migration of Abraham
  • The Route of the Exodus
  • The Tribal Allotments of Israel
  • The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah
  • Palestine in the Time of Jesus
  • The Ministry of Jesus Around the Sea of Galilee
  • The Passion Week in Jerusalem
  • Paul’s Missionary Journeys


For those who are comfortable with their own creativity (especially if you use different Bibles for different tasks) the sheer amount of illustrations in this Bible may seem more in the way than helpful. It does not include an index of illustrations that some find very useful. This is a very nice Bible though and I can recommend it for a lot of people. I like the illustrations so much I had a hard time narrowing down the list of ones to use for the pictures in this review and to color for my upcoming various art mediums post. If you like the idea of lots of coloring pages, or doing hand lettering or placing stickers over patterned backgrounds this Bible is particularly appealing. With it’s more standard appearance, bullet notes, concordance and maps the HCSB Illustrator’s Notetaking Bible will make a better all purpose Bible then the other creative ones for some people.

Buy From:

Barnes & Noble

and many local Bible bookstores


Photography by hannah C brown.

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