“Should I write in my Bible?”. That’s a question I struggled with for almost a year.
Until fairly recently, I considered the idea of writing in my Bible as inappropriate. It seemed sacrilegious, really. I mean, this is God’s holy word we’re talking about. It should be treated with care and respect and reverence. But as I spent more time engaging with scripture, my attitude began to change.
To be clear, I do think God’s word should be treated with respect and reverence. And by that I mean the living word of scripture, the word of God made alive by the Holy Spirit as we interact with it in a spirit of earnestness and humility. In fact, I believe that it’s the lack of respect and reverence for God’s word that has led so many of us in the church into falsehoods and false gods.
As I wrestled with the issue through much of 2018, I eventually arrived at this conclusion: God’s word is sacred. These particular pieces of paper – which happen to currently serve as the medium for my engagement with those sacred words – are not.
In fact, my desire to keep my study Bible in pristine condition was really a sort of idolatry. I was, at the end of the day, missing the whole point of interacting with scripture. I was favoring the form over the substance.
And so in January of 2019, I took the plunge. I’ll admit it was a bit nerve-wracking – but only for a few moments. Once I started – once I’d made those first underlines and scribbled those first words – the hesitance left pretty quickly.
Now as I read and study, I underline words and phrases. I record thoughts. I transcribe or summarize notes from commentaries next to relevant passages. And it’s been a game changer – even in spite of my horrid handwriting. Aside from benefiting my own private engagement with scripture, I’ve found this practice to be especially useful in the context of small group Bible study, where such reflections can be shared and discussed in an environment where “iron sharpens iron”.
Before embarking on this new practice I did do a bit of research on writing instruments. Bible pages tend to be notoriously thin, and I wanted to avoid bleed-through as much as possible. I ended up going with a pigment-based archival ink pen, in a sepia color to help stand out from the printed text on the page. It’s been working well. There’s a bit of ghosting from the other side of the page, but given the thin paper, that’s going to be the case regardless of the pen.
After many years of resisting, I’m glad I finally threw caution to the wind and started writing in my study Bible. It’s taken my appreciation for scripture – and my faith – to a deeper level. If writing in your Bible is not something you currently do, or if (like me) it’s something you’ve been hesitant about, I’d encourage you to give it a go.
(right-click the image below and “Save as…” if you want a more detailed look at the types of scribbles I generally make…)
The archival pen I ended up choosing: