Bible Journaling through troubling times

By Jason Mannings (From Seeds Issue 96 – July 2020)

During lockdown, Jayson Mannings has re-discovered “scripture-led art”. He gives us some tips for getting creative ourselves.

Many hand written Bibles were illustrated throughout history, the Book of Kells being one of the earliest surviving illuminated book of the Gospels we have. With the advent of the printing press, Bibles became text based due to the ease of reproduction; any illuminations would have had to be done by hand, so within about 100 years of the first printed copies this custom had all but died out. Now fast-forward just over three hundred years and we have the new scripture-led art form that is going on all around the world, Bible Journaling.

I know for many (including myself), the thought of doing anything to a Bible makes us feel a little uncomfortable, but there have been notetaking Bibles around for quite some time, consisting of wider margins and a single column of scripture. Today you can buy Bibles with pages to colour or with even wider columns to draw and paint your own illuminations in.

Over the last few weeks, with lockdown I have felt very low. Remembering how much joy creating art brings me, I got out my crafting box, and sitting down with my laptop I Googled ‘Bible Journaling’ – and, boy, are there a lot of videos! You will never be lacking for inspiration trust me, but here are some of my starter tips.

For me, it is all about the scripture. I wanted to use my work to enhance my Bible and also help me to see new things in it. My main tip would be: don’t start with your favourite passage; use this to discover new things.

If, like me, you have a low budget this doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. All you need is some paper, a pen and a little time. You can copy scripture down and then do some illustrations around that. Don’t get caught up in buying expensive things. Let your inspiration flow, the rest will follow. If you do want to get a journaling Bible, they range in price a lot, so read reviews; join a Facebook group for others doing it and ask them, or me.

Because I don’t want to mess up my Bible, I create my art on some art paper and then cut it to size and paste into my Bible. I like to live with it a few days before I make it permanent – some pieces I have gone back to and recreated because I have been inspired by rereading the scripture.

I have a notebook now that I have on me all the time so I can make notes of ideas that come to me. I sometimes get expressions or, while watching TV, I have heard quotes from biblical passages then gone and found them and read them for inspiration. You would be truly amazed at how many times in a day people use Bible passages or lines. If you don’t feel you are artistic then why not cut out pictures in magazines or use old Christmas cards; that and some glue and you are on your way to creating something that is about your connection with the Word of God. I didn’t start this to be perfect; I started this to take my mind off of what was going on in the world at the moment and it helps to block out my fear and anxiety of how life has changed.

So what are you waiting for, pick up your Bible and start to read, see what happens. It may not be today but if you do it often enough you will start to fill your head with ideas and images that may help you get closer to God and see God is here with you always when times are at their hardest.

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