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Apr 7, 2017

How to Mark Your Bible

Jeff Cavins

The best way to mark your Bible is the way that makes most sense to you. Jeff provides 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 mark his Bible and keep track of important moments in his life.


Choosing a Bible

  • 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
  • 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
The RSV-CE Great Adventure Bible includes the Bible Timeline reading system–it’s the Bible that teaches you how to read it and I am so excited to share it with you!

How Jeff Marks His Bible

  • 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
    • I 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.

Tools for Marking Your Bible

  • Jeff uses Sanford Prismacolor pencils and Staedtler pencils.
    • My colors of choice are yellow, blue, green, and red.
    • 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.

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.

We’d Love to Hear from You

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

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  • Started out with a pretty gold trimmed Bible. Now the gold is mostly gone, the pages are all marked up and my soul is much more peaceful. I made a book mark out of the Timeline bracelet that helps me remember where I’ve been.

  • Great Podcast! I like Jeff’s Bible marking system. It seems practical and very effective. Any ideas for those of us using Bibles in two different languages (in my case, Spanish and English). I study both Bibles and pray mostly in my english Bible (NABRE). I’m trying to find a system to leverage and maximize the blessing of being capable of reading the Bible in both languages to share the faith in our Parish and our diverse communities. Any ideas or recommendations? Thank you and God bless!

    • Hi Ignacio, I have a Bible that has the English and Spanish version of the bible, side by side on the same page. It is very helpful to only carry one Bible. Amazon has it as : “La Biblia Latinoamericana Español & English”. the only downside is the small print, but otherwise it woold be a very big Bible.

  • I have seven different translations I use as I pray and study through the scriptures after reciting Morning or Evening Prayer. I like using the Timeline Study provided by Jeff Cavins as well as the Catechism.

    As for marking, I have a slim-line New Testament I use with marked pages, highlighted notes and taped concordance to help me with sharing and defending the Faith.

  • My RSCVE Bible is about 15 yrs old and now the pages are pulling away from the binder, because it is glued. Do you know of a Bible RSCVE that is strung?

  • My son asked for a bible when he was preparing to recievw first holy communion. He carried it to church every week. One week ot slipped off his lap and the pages of maps got torn out. He got a panicked look (waiting for the lightning bolt I think). I asked him “Do you think God would rather see a pristine bible or a bible a bit beat up and damaged because it was actually used?”
    So following my own advice i started making notes and doodles and using my bible.

  • On understanding the Mysteries of the bible, On Wednesday evening, for some reason I’m not connected to send in questions or ask for prayers

  • Did you know that one of St. Elizabeth Seton’s bibles is in the Rare Book collection at the University of Notre Dame? She wrote in her book! Visitors can actually request it and see her notations. I have noted in my own bible (in purple!) some of the verses that were significant to her. Paging through her bible was truly a thrill!

  • I didn’t know we could mark in our bibles? That are good ideas and will try to do it. Iam just learning the Bible because as a child a school age I was never introduce to the Bible. I know in the Bible are Gods words speaking to us.

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