Reviewed by Aimee Byrd
One afternoon while I was innocently getting my mail, I pulled a Reformation Heritage Books catalogue out of the mailbox. As I walked up the driveway, flipping through the pages, it happened. You know, it was one of those moments where there seems to be a light glowing from the page and angels singing in the background. That’s when I saw them. Journibles is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” book projects.
Seriously, why didn’t I think of that? This is a great way to discipline yourself in Bible study, and if you are like me, find even more joy in it. I’m on the computer a lot. But I love writing in print. It turns out that comes in real handy when you are studying Scripture. Journibles are a part of what is called The 17:18 Series, a concept named after Deut. 17:18, where Moses leaves final instructions for the future King of Israel. As the introduction to the Series explains, the king is not merely to acquire a copy of the law, but to write his own copy by his own hand. The following verses indicate that this will help the king to fear the Lord, keep his law, and continue long in his kingdom. In the Journible Series, Joel Beeke and Rob Wynalda help to promote engagement with the Biblical text and an opportunity to pass down a legacy to the next generation.
I immediately asked to review a copy and was sent their latest in the Series, Revelation. Before I received my copy, I was wondering, “is this going to be cheesy?” The right-hand pages of the book are for handwriting the whole book of Revelation. The left-hand pages of the book offer guided questions to take notes as you read. Although hopeful, I was also skeptical. Were the questions just going to be further regurgitation? Was the book going to look nice, or was it going to pander too much to this whole journaling idea and cheapen the experience? Was I going to have enough room to write or was I going to stress out the whole time that I am running out and need to write smaller?
When the book arrived, I was very pleased. It is a hardback with a built-in ribbon bookmark and a minimal approach. I took a picture for you to show how well they pull this off. The “scribing” page is guided with plenty of space to write each verse. As you can see, my handwriting is pretty big and I still have leftover room. Space has not been an issue at all – neither has cheesiness. The guided questions on the left side work well.
I tend to only do about a page a day, or maybe only have time to fit in a few lines. I am reading through G.K. Beale’s Revelation: A Shorter Commentary (spoiler alert: it’s not that short!), and rereading Dennis Johnson’s Triumph of the Lamb as I am writing. I am finding that actually writing the text in addition to reading it helps me to notice and meditate on parts that I may usually zoom through. And the brief guided notes on the left-hand side of the book help me not to feel like I need to write a massive dissertation on what I have learned (does anyone else feel the need to do this?).
I love this idea, and I love how Beeke and Wynalda have executed it. In fact, it’s my gift idea for the summer. I have bought a stack of the Galatians – 1&2 Thessalonians Volume, along with some fountain pens for my parents and my brothers. I also bought my three kids each a copy for their summer Bible reading. What a great way to get your kids to study their Bible! And, as the Series advertises, that would be a fantastic legacy. My youngest is 10 years old, and it will be a great testament for him to look back, many years later, on his summer going into the fifth grade and see the epistles in his own handwriting. I also think that seeing the accomplishment of the scribing each day will show how far they have come and motivate them to see it through to the end.
You see, I should have thought of this idea myself. I don’t know why the heck I didn’t. But I won’t let my own lack of genius stop me from recommending Journibles to anyone who will listen. They have many books available in the Series now and more coming out this summer. I, for one, am sitting around waiting for their reprint of 1 Timothy – Hebrews which is coming out by the end of July.
Buy it for yourself; buy it for a family member or friend. Whether you are 10 or 39 (don’t know where that random age came from), it will be enriching.
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