In my previous post I discussed some of the rationale and methodology for writing in your Bible. I made reference to a method for making more extensive notes than will fit in the margin of a Bible. Several methods exist including two developed or certainly implemented by the New England pastor and teacher, Jonathan Edwards in the mid-1700s.
Firstly, Edwards had a Bible especially made comprising the Bible text on small pages interleaved with larger blank pages so he could make notes on pages that contained three times as much blank space as Bible text. Several publishers produce Bibles with wide margins, some even called journalling Bibles. One even produces a Bible with text on every second page.
The second method was a system he called his ‘miscellanies’ which was a series of notebooks with pages indexed using consecutive letters or numbers (he started off with a, b, c through to z then went to aa, cb, cc through to zz before then going to ordinals 1, 2, 3). A miscellany was a note – anything from a few lines long to many pages on a particular Bible passage or topic. These miscellanies were cross-referenced to his interleaved Bible by noting the miscellany number in his Bible. At a glance he could then tell if a particular passage was referred to or further expanded in one of these miscellaneous notes. He created over 1,400 miscellanies in multiple notebooks during his lifetime. These are all available to read at the Jonathan Edwards Center.
Once again I was made aware of this particular note-keeping method by Matthew Everhard in a couple of videos he has made.
I have implemented and begun using a miscellany system for my Bible reading and note-keeping. In the five-or-so weeks of writing in my Bible I have created six miscellanies. These topics have sprung from my Bible reading as I have been struck by the need to take or make more extensive notes than will fit comfortably in the margin of my wide-margin Bible. I don’t immediately begin a miscellany as I am reading. Instead I formulate questions in my mind about the text that may warrant further thought, study and prayer. The miscellany number in the format Mnnn (eg. M001) is written in the margin of my Bible in larger text than other notes, and a box drawn around it.
For what it’s worth, the topics of my first six miscellanies have been:
- The Parables of Matthew 13
- Lot: Righteous but Fearful (Genesis 19 and 2 Peter 2)
- The Parable of the Wedding Feast in Matthew 22
- The ‘Fear of Isaac’ in Genesis 31
- Spiritual Perception and Understanding in Mark 8 and 9
- Ephraim and Manasseh (The Blessing and Tribes of)
Not all of these are complete. In the case of the last one I have only formulated questions rather than study and write up answers. Some of my more complete miscellanies have filled one side of a single A5 page whilst others have been up to 5 such pages.
I really appreciate the miscellany system because it offers flexibility to make notes as I think a little more deeply on verses, passages or topics. I don’t create a miscellany on everything I ponder, but have done so roughly once a week for this brief period. I use a disc-bound notebook system so I can add further pages to a particular miscellany (and I could even remove and/or rewrite one if I think the original is complete rubbish). My Bible doesn’t become too cluttered with notes, but I can readily see if I have created more in-depth notes on a passage.
Like writing notes in my Bible, a miscellany system allows me to engage more deeply and diligently with the Word of God. I also find that I ponder on (dare I say ‘meditate on’) the topic on and off during the day – which must be a good thing.