Marginalia is the ancient term for any words, markings, or drawings added to the blank spaces around the text on the pages of a book. Bible marginalia is nothing new---monks did it, Bach drew inspiration from it, and my grandmother did it. Many of you are already in the habit of adding notes in your margins!
The practice of Bible journaling requires pausing to “be still” and spend time with the One who offers us daily comfort, direction, and hope. The purpose of a journaling Bible is to allow extra space for this personal connection---room to write out special verses to carry through the day, sermon notes to remember, and prayers for ourselves and others. The margins are a place to record our faith story, “pray the Scriptures” over our loved ones and friends, and leave notes of encouragement to others. It is the place where we can respond to God’s “text” message of love to us.
Many journalers choose to respond with words; others might be inspired to draw a picture or create a collage. There are many images on social media showing beautifully lettered and decorated pages, which can be inspiring---or intimidating. Created in the image of our Creator God, the fact is that we are all uniquely creative, and this God-blessed creativity looks different for each of us. Journaling is more about reflection than perfection and being open to the blessing of God’s mercy and grace through time spent in the Word.
“Blessed Lord, who hast caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them.” (The Lutheran Hymnal, The Order of Morning Service, p. 14)
Downloadable Bible Marginalia Templates
Here are a few marginalia templates along with a brief thought about the readings that influenced the design. Feel free to download these, trace them, and use them as you spend time in the Word.
Luke 17:5 Marginalia
Verse 5 jumped out at me—the disciples said to Jesus, “Increase our faith!”
This seemed like a fitting first margin to design for The Lutheran Study Bible: Journal Edition, as the Bible offers space for pausing to reflect and connect with God’s Word—time for faith to grow. The plant imagery ties into Jesus' lesson on faith in verse 6, where He mentions the mustard seed---one of the smallest seeds people would have planted at that time, but it had the potential to grow so tall that a bird could nest in its branches.
Psalm 46:10 Marginalia
The design of this margin template pulls from two beloved themes of this psalm. Verse 10 says, “Be still, and know.” The act of Bible journaling is to pause for stillness. Verse 1 says, “God is our refuge and strength.” This ties in visually with the fortress at the bottom of the image.
2 Timothy 1:7 Marginalia
Our God doesn’t send us out empty-handed—He equips! This margin highlights the details of this EQUIPment. Not to mention the fact that Paul, as he writes these words, is in prison able to cope and even REJOICE(!) due to the power, love, and sound mind of his connection to Christ.
Get started with Bible journaling using The Enduring Word Bible.