Catholic Bible Journaling- Finding A Bible

UPDATE! They now sell an actual Catholic Journaling Bible! I wrote about it here. 🙂

I’ve been seeing a trend on Pinterest and Instagram when it comes to reflecting on your Bible. It goes by many names (bible journaling, illustrated faith, bible art, documented faith..) but it matters not what you call it- once I saw it, I knew it was for me!!! (Go to my Bible Journaling Pinterest Board to see some examples)

There’s one little problem when it comes to Bible Journaling for Catholics… finding a Bible to do it in. Is there a Journaling Bible for Catholics? Well…

catholic bible journaling- finding a bible

Bibles that are good for journaling can be called a notetaker’s bible, journaling bible, or wide-margin bible… and Catholics don’t have any of these available right now. There is one, but it’s not in print anymore, and the used versions are pricey. You can find it here. It’s a NRSV (which I’ll just say is not my favorite translation) but it is a Catholic translation. It includes the Apocrypha, which has the books that the Protestants removed from the Bible, but they’re not in the same order as they would be in our regular bibles. This is the one I opted to get because it’s all that was available, and I mean for my Journaling Bible to be special, one of a kind, and last a lifetime. Even possibly be an heirloom. So I decided it was worth the money to me at this stage of my life. Here’s a picture of the inside pages.


A less convenient but more affordable option is the use the Catholic Study Bible. There’s plenty of space on the pages because the bible comes already full of notes. Just stick white label stickers over the notes section, and voila- space to journal without covering actual scripture! You can also paste white paper over the notes, tape with a “lift-the-flap” style, or paint the notes white before journaling! I wrote a whole post about Bible Journaling with the Catholic Study Bible here.

catholic bible journaling with catholic study bible- 2

Now I’m going to go ahead and disclose something that I’m probably going to take some flack for. I knew that Lydia (my 10 year old daughter) would also love Bible Journaling with me (it’s the kind of thing that’s totally up her creek) and I wanted it to be easy for her. So I ordered her the  Inspire Bible, which is Protestant. It also has over 400 images already in it that are adult coloring style, which she loves! I’m thinking that long term, if Bible Journaling really turns out to be her thing, she’ll get another one and start again when she’s a bit older. By then, hopefully the Catholics will have one available. Until then, I think Bible Journaling is going to reach out to Lydia in a way that captures her love and imagination, and draws her closer to the word of God, and I think it’s going to be very mutually rewarding for us to share in this hobby together. So that’s the decision I made as her mother. (Go ahead and leave the hate in the comments- I can take it) 😉

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As most of you know, my dad was Baptist, so we had plenty of King James Bibles floating around my house that I did read from time to time. My mom always told me that even though they took some books out of their bible, we still believe everything that’s in theirs, and that if I was ever trapped on a desert island with only a Protestant bible, I should read it. 😉 However, given that the King James Version was translated to be the most beautiful rather than the most accurate when it comes to Bible verses, I do try to avoid it when I can. The Inspire Bible is the NLT translation.

I don’t know much about Protestant translations of the bible, so I consulted with a friend of mine who is a devout Baptist, very spiritual, and who’s opinion I value. He said his favorite translation is the ESV, which is similar to our RSV because they were translated using the same method- a word for word translation. The NLT he said is more of a thought translation. The most widely recommended journaling bible I found with my research was this ESV Bible.

I want to be clear that I definitely recommend owning and reading Catholic Bibles. When Catholic versions of things are available, I always opt for the Catholic stuff.

So I’m going to boil down your choices for Catholic Bible Journaling:

  1. Spring for the used Catholic one (somewhere in ballpark of $120-$200)
  2. Use the Catholic Study Bible (covering the notes yourself)
  3. Journal in a Protestant Bible, but do your reading in a Catholic Bible
  4. Journal using your regular Catholic Bible with unconventional methods (such as “lift the flap” type of entries where you tape them into your Bible with washi tape, use transparent overlays, or draw very lightly on top of the text so it’s still readable, etc.)
  5. Do your Bible journaling in a sketch book rather than your actual bible

So there you have it. I wish I had better news for you guys, but what I can tell you is I’m sure someone is going to come out with a Catholic Journaling Bible. I mean, when I started this site, I was so frustrated that there were practically no resources for Catholic children online, and look now- beautiful websites everywhere! So I’m sure it’s coming. You know… soonish. (And a note to Catholic publishers everywhere- can you please have an option for RSV and NAB? That’d be great!) 😉

bible journaling- adding hymns with vellum and washi tape

Find all of my Catholic Bible Journaling Resources here.

And if you know of a Catholic Bible with any margins that us journaling maniacs could possibly work with, please leave it in the comments! Seriously! 


  1. I’ve seen about the Inspiration Bible and might get one for myself. I have NRSV with the Apocrypha, and I’m an English Anglican (Protestant). I love reading some of it, although I haven’t read it all. We sometimes even have readings from the Apocrypha during our services (not connected in any way with the fact I am choosing the readings at the moment, lol!)

    • That’s so interesting! There’s also some stuff in the Apocrypha that’s not in our Bible, so I’m looking forward to reading that stuff, too. 🙂

      • I have been looking for a Catholic journaling Bible, and I finally found one! It was just published in January 2018. It’s called the Catholic Journaling Bible, and you can purchase it from The Catholic Company. It has the Old and New Testaments in one book as opposed to other sites where I found the Old and New Testaments in separate books. It has the apocrypha which includes one book I don’t remember being in my other Catholic Bibles; it’s called The Wisdom of Ben Sira. It’s approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and is “The New American Bible, Revised Old Testament, a translation of the Sacred Scriptures authorized b y the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc.”

  2. I wish as Catholic Christians that we were more up-to-date. We should try to get on the bandwagon with everyone else. I would love to get the Inspire Bible but am really hesitating because the translation does not appeal to me. Thanks for writing on this topic.

  3. Layla Martin says

    I had found an old “family-sized” Bible at a garage sale years ago. The margins are not that big, but the pages are huge. And it was like 5 bucks! Anyway, thats what I am using.

    • That’s what I found- even in really big bibles, there still aren’t really margins. lol. But there’s still a lot you can do. 🙂

  4. I have been frustrated since converting with the lack of Bible variety in general for Catholics. I think maybe Protestant publishers sometimes go overboard with this, but really. There’s so many beautiful Bibles out there…but they’re all Protestant! I hope Catholic publishers start putting out more options for nice covers and different sizes soon!

    A note on the King James Version: My understanding is that it is a very good translation, meant to be literal rather than concept-based (the actual terms escape me at the moment). It is still my favorite translation. I can’t tell you how much I wish I could find a KJV with the Deutero-Canonical books in it! I bought a Douay-Rheims hoping it would be similar, but the very different spellings of names and places really threw me off. I guess people love what they know.

    • I was actually taught in a secular History class at a University that the King James Version was translated to be beautiful rather than accurate.

      • Elizabeth says

        I haven’t taken any classes that dealt with various translations. I do know that, as I’ve researched various options, the KJV is normally listed as being closer to a word-for-word translation rather than concept-based. I also know that, in my Protestant church (which used the NIV), every time the pastor said “Actually, this particular part isn’t translated well here. A better translation would be…” the “improved” translation he gave us was usually what my KJV already said. I think it is also true that the language of the KJV is exquisite, but I’m not certain it’s fair to the translators to say that they chose beauty over accuracy. The group of scholars who did the translation were all experts in ancient languages, and their goal was to produce a more accurate translation in English than had been available up to that time. My greatest concern with the KJV are the accusations of anti-Catholic tendencies, where more than one translation was an option, that they chose the one that better contradicted Catholic doctrine. But I haven’t seen anyone give actual examples of this.

  5. I bought my daughter the Inspire Bible for Christmas too!

  6. Angela H says

    I have an older (bought used on Amazon) Jerusalem Bible called the “reader’s edition.” It has small margins but the pages are perfect for colored pencils. I haven’t tried any other medium on them, but the pencils seem to do nicely and the text can still be seen through them. I also happen to love the Jerusalem Bible (the 1968 version) for it’s language, translation and simplicity. It is the translation Mother Angelica used and that lady was full of wisdom! Thanks Lacy for another great post, you are an inspiration! By the way, I see nothing wrong with getting your daughter a Protestant Bible for this type of thing, I was raised Methodist and still have at least four Protestant Bibles and I find that when I am really really digging into a piece of scripture that I pull them out and read that passage in each one and it often helps me to get a fuller understanding of the text. I wish there were more choices in Catholic Bibles, but I agree with your mother – we have all the books they do so it’s not like you are adding something when you read a Protestant Bible.

  7. I love your post about your struggles finding resources for bible journaling and your solutions. I think it’s great that you did find some options. Now another possible solution: vellum and washi tape. If there is something you want to do, but you don’t have the space, do it on vellum and use washi tape to add it in. Washi is removable and doesn’t damage the pages.

    Now, full disclosure, I’m a protestant and I love the NLT translation. That being said, it’s not perfect. I’ve always had problems marking my bible and bought the inspire just so I will use it for marking up. However, I have found verses and lines in the KJV and NKJV that are not in the NLT (translations come from a different manuscript). My solution is to make a note of these things in my bible(s) when I come across them. That may be something you can do some of for your daughter. I know you are talking about large sections, but for some of it, a note can be made

  8. Carmel Goneau says

    Hi Lacy – love your web site. I have been using The Catholic Prayer Bible for Lectio Divina that I bought a few years ago.
    It has spaces in it on the inside margins, although not very large spaces. Some full size pages at the end of some of the books. My only complaint is that the stamped art work at the beginning of each book is, in my humble opinion, awful. I save and color the ones that aren’t half bad and cover over the rest. The artwork is very 1970s and reminds me of socialism (of all things). But I am making do with what I have right now. Can’t wait for a Catholic journaling bible I can afford. I may try your suggestion with the Catholic Study Bible or just wait. I would like the bible I journal in the be a “forever bible” though that held everything. Take care!

    • If you really don’t like the pictures that are in there, you should use those white label stickers to cover them and draw your own! 🙂 Thanks for the info!

  9. I wonder if you’ve seen this, Catholic Journaling Bible: New Testament with Psalms & Proverbs. They also have The Old Testament, it looks like, on Amazon. They seem very new, this year, even. I have been Bullet Journaling for over a year, and was thinking this activity would be a good add on. Either in my Bullet Journal or in a Bible like you’ve mentioned or the one I just found. I love the Fabre Castle pens, too.

  10. Laura Butts says

    Lacy I stumbled on this site and read about bible journaling and saw all the art that others drew in their bibles and I really liked to give bible journaling a try I got the NAB Catholic Bible personal study edition at my local salvation army thrift store where I live . I got really excited about this find and the bible itself only cost me two(2) dollers !!! can’t wait to get stared !! Thanks for your posts I apsoluly Love them !!!

    Thank you

  11. Linda D. Lewis says

    Thanks so much for sharing all this neat stuff. I am a convert (1972) and my Dad was a Protestant pastor (!!!), so I also grew up with KJV’s. While I was in Catholic High School (Mom’s idea over Dad’s protests — no pun intended), the Living Bible came out, and I totally absorbed it from cover to cover. I also like the Good News Translation, especially since it comes in a Catholic version with all the books in the proper sequence. Yet, all in all, since I still prefer the NAB over the NABRE, what I’ve decided to do is print my own Bible (not as expensive as it sounds since I use an HP printer with Instant Ink service), using the text found on the website. More likely than not, I’ll parse the scriptures by each week’s Mass readings and go from there. BTW, I also highlight my Roman Daily Missal!

  12. Frances Johnson says

    I have a few different translation, some are Catholic Editions others are not. If you put all the translations together, although worded differently, they mean exactly the same. The only difference is that the Catholic Editions contain the apocrypha the others don’t. So until a Catholic Journaling Bible becomes available I can’t see that it matters if you use a protestant translation. In fact I have a protestant bible that contains the apocrypha. The only thing you have to watch for is if it is a study bible then there will be differences in the explanations, for instance Catholics don’t believe that Jesus had brothers and sisters, protestants do.

  13. I am new to Bible Journaling, but took a class with some friends last weekend and we are all are excited to get started on our own bibles. I went on Amazon and searched “Catholic Journaling Bibles” and I found a couple that have apparently just come on the market. They are from “Drawn to Faith” and published by Catholic Art Publishers. They have a book for Old Testament ($29.99) and another for New Testament ($11.69). These are the PRIME rates. They are in Paperback and don’t appear to offer large print, but they do have nice margins so they might do the trick. Just thought I would share.

  14. Our Sunday Visitor has produced a Catholic Journaling Bible! The print is on the small side, but there finally is one!

  15. Kimberly Peterson says

    There is an Inspire Catholic Bible NLT (New Living Translation) that has an imprimatur so is approved by the Catholic Church available November 8, 2018. It can be pre-ordered on many websites at this time. I am excited to see this most popular journaling Bible in a Catholic version!

  16. Deb Harris says

    Not sure if you’re still reading these. I’ve been looking for a journaling-coloring Catholic bible for my granddaughter’s First Communion. She loves adult coloring books, pretty, shiny & girly things so I’ve been very tempted by the Inspire bibles, they are beautiful. On Amazon I found a Catholic Inspire bible so I almost grabbed it but read some reviews first. A couple said it had some of the missing books but not all. They said it was still the Saint James Version. There may have been something else I’m forgetting but several did not recommend it. There were a few positive reviews also that didn’t mention those things. Have you seen it & what’s your opinion about it? Thanks