Interview: Beautiful Word: The Story of the ESV Illuminated Bible
December 11, 2017
Renowned designer Dana Tanamachi brings modern illustrations to the ancient text.
Centuries before Christians searched Scripture on illuminated digital screens, the Word of God was “lit up” with masterful calligraphy, colorful illustrations, and gold and silver filigree in the illuminated Bibles and manuscripts of the Middle Ages.
A new Bible edition from Crossway offers contemporary readers a glimpse of that classic style in an English Standard Version (ESV) Bible glimmering with hundreds of hand-drawn gold illustrations.
Christian designer Dana Tanamachi, nationally renowned for her chalk art and lettering work, spent seven months creating full-page illustrations for each book of the Bible and served as art director for the project, which follows Crossway’s launch of a multi-volume reader’s Bible in 2016 and a single-column journaling Bible in 2014.
“I’m not aware of anything else quite like the ESV Illuminated Bible,” J. Mark Bertrand, a Bible design expert who runs the blog Lectio, told CT. “Maybe because the ESV Illuminated Bible is a mass market effort, maybe because of the clear influence of the ‘Bible journaling’ trend—which the ESV Journaling Bible helped create—it feels like something unique.”
Even with the growth of Bible sites and apps, around 80 percent of Bible readers—and about as many millennial readers—still prefer to study a physical text. New Bible designs and formats aim to make it easier and more engaging for today’s readers to get into the Word.
“Our prayer is that the added ornamentation and illustrations will draw the readers’ eyes to the beauty of the Word of God itself,” Crossway writes in the ESV Illuminated Bible.
Several more recent efforts to bring the historic practice …