The Value of a Blank Bible

Did you see the new ESV loose-leaf Bible?

I’m the “blank Bible guy” which explains why a handful of you contacted me via email to ask me this question. Between the lines I can hear what you’re really asking: Is this a suitable replacement for that little homespun, labor-intensive, finger-endangering, blank Bible project you’ve been trying to convince us to undertake?

Well of course the new loose-leaf will certainly make the goal of the blank Bible easier to achieve (namely blank space) and you will more likely keep all your fingers. But I have my misgivings. It’s not cheap, for one. And I personally prefer the portability of the smaller blank Bible (as outlined in my series). I’m not sure I want to haul around a binder.

To date 25,000 folks have visited the blank Bible tutorial on this blog. A few dozen have completed the blank Bibles. I’ve seen photos of many of these completed projects and they look wonderful.

But whether you choose the most personally gratifying option (making a blank Bible) or you choose the route of least resistance (loose-leaf), it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you use it, take notes in it, and make good use of all that blank space.

Apparently Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte (1836-1921) made good use of the white space. While reading his biography the other night, I learned that he used a blank Bible. And from the sound of it, he really liked the Bible, too, so much so that he wanted to convince others of the usefulness of the blank Bible (sound familiar?).

In his early 60s, Whyte mailed a blank Bible to a youg friend. He included a note that was reprinted in the bio, a note I think you might get a kick out of reading (and perhaps get kicked into making your own blank Bible).

In a note to a young pastor, Whyte wrote:

Edinburgh, May 13, 1901.

Dear Hubert,

I send for your acceptance today an Interleaved Study Bible. I have used such a Bible ever since I was at your stage of study, and the use it has been to me is past all telling.

For more than forty years, I think I can say, never a week, scarcely a day, has passed, that I have not entered some note or notes into my Bible : and, then, I never preach or speak in any way that I do not consult my Interleaved Bible. I never read a book without taking notes for preservation one way or other. And I never come in my reading on anything that sheds light on any passage of Scripture that I do not set the reference down in my Bible over against the passage it illustrates. And, as time has gone on, my Bible has become filled with illustrative and suggestive matter of my own collecting; and, therefore, sure to be suggestive and helpful to me in my work.

All true students have their own methods of collecting and husbanding the results of their reading. But an Interleaved Bible is specially suitable and repaying to a preacher. The Bible deserves all our labour and all our fidelity; and we are repaid with usury for all the student-like industry we lay out upon it.

If you wish a talk, and have anything to ask me about this method—come and let us have a talk.

Praying that you may be the most industrious, prayerful, and successful of ministers.

With high regard,

Alexander Whyte *

Whyte’s little letter surprised me and made me think, perhaps other blank Bibles have been used in church history? Besides Whyte and Jonathan Edwards (whose blank Bible was my inspiration), have you read anywhere of other famous folk using an “interleaved” or “Blank” Bible?

How about you? Do you have a blank Bible? Use it? How have you benefited?


*As quoted in G. F. Barbour, The Life of Alexander Whyte (Hodder & Stoughton 1924), pp. 289-290.

9 thoughts on “The Value of a Blank Bible

  1. Tony,

    This post reminds me of a question I’ve wanted to ask you: What sort of system do you use for “collecting and husbanding the results of your reading”? What sort of information do you enter? Is there a filter things go through before you write them into your Bible? Do you always use pen, or do you use pencil? Thanks for your help!


  2. Hey Tony. I found your site last week and I am going to make a blank bible…eventually. I asked you a question on the original post of your blank bible that I am waiting to hear back from. I look forward to making the bible and using it.

    Of those that use a blank bible, do you use symbols to help in referencing? What symbols do you use?

  3. Tony, J.N. Darby (1800-1882) disbound his Greek New Testament, had it rebound in 4 volumes, and crammed it full of notes – including the only description of his conversion. Darby is well known as the one who brought together the elements of dispensational premillennialism, so would be something of an unpopular figure among Reformed types, but he was himself committed to a Calvinist soteriology, unlike many of his modern followers. My colleague Mark Sweetnam and I head up the Trinity Millennialism Project, and we have raised funding to have most of the Darby “blank Bible” digitised and made available on the web. It’s currently held in the John Rylands University Library, Manchester, where the digitising work is taking place. We’ve described the project in an article forthcoming in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. You can find the Millennialism Project website at :

  4. Tony,
    Just wanted to let you know that I have had a blank Bible for the past year thanks to your site. It really has been a blessing and I have tried to convince others of its benefits (call it blank Bible evangelizing). The pen recommendation is also great and really helps condense the notes. I highly recommend the .005 tip.

    For those of you wanting to do it but not sure of the effort, I was able to have Kinkos handle the binding cut and paper cut. I did the stuffing and volume ordering and then had them do the spirals. It really is worth it. Take the plunge!


  5. I saw a NIV bible available at COSTCO for 21.99 that consisted of square pages, covers like the “Moleskin” notebooks, and the right page blank. The Bible text was on the left of the crease as the Bible lay open. This puts one-half of a full page between each one-half of a Bible page.

  6. Tony,

    Why not just create a WORD document with the ESV text interspersed with blank pages? This document could be printed up and bound whenever needed. To satisfy copyright issues, just buy a cheap ESV (to satisfy the license requirement), destroy it (ouch!) and print up your own. You could even make the pdf or doc available to others who would do the same.

    Or you could just use the good ol’ KJV text…

  7. I found a method of ordering a custom, printed and bound interleaved bible text: see the prototype – the PDF is interleaved with a little tool, where you can choose between all left pages blank, all right pages blank or “traditional” (by paper sheet: blank page left/right altering). The printing is done by a print-on-demand service which will print the order of even one single copy. Instead of blank pages, you could also interleave with pages which are composed of notes typeset by a word processor in order to make a custom study bible. Of course you could also use this mechanism to print an interleaved PDF to single pages, if you wish to use it as loose leave bible, but without the need to interleave the pages manually. If you want to use this way, feel free to contact me by

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