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Apr 7, 2017

How to Mark Your Bible

Jeff Cavins

Jeff explains that the best way to mark your Bible is the way that makes most sense to you. So, he gives some helpful guidelines to help you develop your own marking system that lets you “live” in your Bible and connect it to your everyday life. Jeff also shares his personal Bible-marking mistakes along with his favorite way to keep track of important moments in his life.

  • What kind of Bible do I use?
    • Catholic Bibles have 73 books, while Protestants have 66. Make sure to get a Catholic Bible.
    • The translations I recommend: Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE), which is used in the Catechism, and the New American Bible
    • FYI on differences between types of translations
      • Paraphrase— e.g. Good News Bible: very loose translation: “God’s word is a flashlight on my path” vs. “God’s word is a lamp unto my feet.
      • Dynamic equivalent—Attention paid to thought for thought and word for word—a good reading Bible.
      • Word for word translation—RSVCE and NAB
        • Best protestant Bible is ESV
  •  What’s the cover on your Bible? —Jeff recommends leather Bible covers made by  bible-covers
  • What tools should you use to mark your Bible? 
    1. Some use a color-code system (e.g. underline in different colors things that have to do with various topics, such as red for salvation, blue for Mary, green for spiritual growth)
    2. Don’t use a highlighter! It will bleed through the India paper that your Bible’s pages are made of. I learned the hard way…1-cor-13-wet-markerresults-of-wet-marker














(My pencils and Zebra pens)


(My carrying case)


My zebra pen (BP F-301)

  • What do I write in my Bible?
    • Make a relationship between your Bible and your Catechism
      • I make cross references between the Bible and the Catechism (CCC)
    • I write the English meaning of Hebrew words in the margins
    • I make cross references between the New Testament and the Old Testament
      • Matthew Ch. 3-4— Jesus goes into the wilderness and when tempted by Satan, he quotes a scripture verse from the Old Testament
    • Circle words that I want to draw attention to
    • I write a word in the margin that will jar my memory about a personal story that connects to that passage in the Bible
    • I bracket a large section in yellow and then identify different elements of that section in different colors. 1-sam-17-david

A Few Final Notes

  • Remember—there’s no one way to mark up your Bible. You might make “mistakes” with your pens, but it’s never a mistake to live in your Bible.
  • Write down big moments in your life on the back or front
  • Get a small notebook to accompany your Bible— I use a Moleskin notebook that I especially use when doing Lectio Divina
  • Use “chain references” to help explain the faith to others
    • Write down the first verse that starts the train of thought…then go to the next bible verse on that topic, write down the next verse that you want to discuss, etc.
    • Bible Thumpers—two cheat sheets that give you chain references on different topics
  • If you have trouble navigating your Bible, you can get color-coded tabs from Ascension that identify the books of the Bible according to where they fall on the Bible Timeline.

We’d Love to Hear from You

Do you have comments or questions for Jeff? Use the comment box below, or email Jeff at You may hear your question or comment in an upcoming podcast episode!

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