Bible Marking Pens





Introduction: Bible Marking Pens

These represent a sampling of most of the pens I have used for making notations on the thin paper used to print Bibles.  They are a fountain pen with red ink and an extra fine point, a dry mark pencil, a 0.2mm crafter's pen, and a red ballpoint.

Step 1: The Problem

This is a page from a Bible I use often.  The paper is so thin that a faint image of the factory print from the other side of the page is almost legible.  Although I did not make any notations on this page, I did highlight some cross reference listings with a yellow dry marker pencil.  A dry marker pencil is good for highlighting, but useless for making one's own notations.  Dry marker pencils come in quite a variety of colors.  They need frequent sharpening, but there is no danger they will go through the paper.  

Step 2: Bleed Through

I have been using this copy of the Greek New Testament over the last 45 years.  It contains markings from a wide variety of pens.  This page shows markings from two pens that bled through the paper.  Look to the right of the numeral 8.  You can see "NB" (Nota Bene = pay close attention, Important!) in reverse from the other side of the paper.  It was made with a fine point fountain pen, but that pen put too much ink onto the paper for marking Bible paper, and it bled through.  Notice the red "5-6" below the "NB."  For a while I used cheap red ballpoint pens for Bible marking.  Within a few years the ink took on an oily look and bled through the paper, even though it looked fine for a while.  I quit buying those cheap red pens.  The red ballpoint in the Introduction is a pretty good pen, much better than the cheap ones I used years ago.   

Step 3: Black Pens

The text underlinings on this page were done with a better quality black ball point.  After many years, the ink still has not bled through to the other side.  The same is true of the "cf v. 5" (= "see verse 5") notation, which was also made with the same ballpoint.  The "Mt 12:28" notation was done with the 0.2mm crafter's pen.  The crafter's pens work very well and can be purchased in various line widths.  The problem is that they run out of ink quickly and are not refillable.  While I like them, I gave up on them because of their short life.  I believe the "IDB 2" notation was also done with a crafter's pen.  ("IDB" refers to a multi-volume Bible dictionary set I use.)  It appears I went back later to add more detail and used a very fine point Kohinoor pen for the "p 631" notation and for the additional notations beyond it that are illegible here.  The Kohinoor pen is a quality instrument available at fine art stores.  They are expensive to buy and require a lot of cleaning and maintenance to keep them working well.  You can see the Kohinoor pen here.

Step 4: PaperMate Pourous Point Pens

For a time I used red PaperMate Flair pens.  I believe they were Porous Point pens, although they may have been felt tipped.  It was the mid-1970s then.  They worked pretty well.  Although the red underlinings on this page are clear and easy to read, they did not bleed through to the other side of the page.  Different point widths are available, but they are generally a little thick for notations in narrow spaces.

Step 5: What I Use Now

Currently I am using the extra fine point fountain pen shown in the Introduction photo.  It is a kit built pen from about 15 years ago.  At that time, several points were available and I bought an extra fine point.  I loaded the pen with red ink.  The pen is convenient and easy to refill.  The photo shows a notation I made with it.  It does, however, bleed through some on the thinnest papers.  See the second photo.  But, I try to write quickly so the pen does not sit long in any one place.  It also helps if the ink is not overly watery.  And, I can always check the other side of a page before writing to be sure I will not obscure anything I want to remain free of bleed through.  So long as the color of ink I use for notations is different from that of the text, bleed through is less of a problem, too. 

It would be nice if I could recommend one pen for everyone.  Much depends on whether you merely want to highlight, or to add your own notations, too.  I use several Bibles and mark them all.  Usually I do some underlining and may write a reference to an occasional cross reference.  Some Bible papers bleed through more easily than others.  You will probably need to do a little experimentation.  But, by all means avoid cheap ball points and pens that put quite a bit of wet ink onto the paper.  Those may be fine for writing on normal stationery, but not for marking the thin papers used in printing Bibles.  All in all, I prefer my extra fine point fountain pen, but those are not always easy to find.  In addition, one pen maker's extra fine fountain pen point may be another's fine.  There is little uniformity between brands on such things.  



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Do you want to buy vintage pens? I found one like that, which is quite rare:

It is great to see fellow North Americans engaged in the endless and timeless exercise of reading and studying the bible.

There are more of us than we know. I went with my wife to a home in our neighborhood for a meeting about landscaping between the women. The home was very tastefully decorated and I looked for any sign of religious art on the walls, but saw none. Just as I was sitting down I glanced two very worn Bibles on a very available shelf. Later I noticed the wife was wearing a cross. We had a nice discussion.

Hi, I'm trying to learn Greek right now and was wondering if you had any tips on how I should best approach this? Thank you for your time

I assume you want to learn New Testament Greek, often called Koine Greek. I did an Instructable once on learning New Testament Greek. A key part of that was to point the reader to a course in first year Greek from Prof. James Voelz at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. They get a number of people who decide later in life to become pastors. Voelz' course is available for free download on-line through iTunes University, also through the Concordia, St. Louis website. The course is keyed to a textbook he has authored. That textbook can be purchased at Amazon. It is a little pricey. I have not used it, myself. (I do know Voelz puts a lot of emphasis on learning the rules for accenting words. In my college Greek class we studied those, too; but, you can read the Greek New Testament daily and almost never need to pay any attention to accent marks, except for rare occasions when two different words are spelled the same, but for different accents.)

My favorite first year Greek text is Machen's New Testament Greek for Beginners. But, you will likely need someone to give you guidance on translating the exercises. I would suggest you phone various pastors in your area. Look for one who has kept up with his Greek and would be willing to give you some guidance when you have questions, maybe even sit down with you to go through the lessons with you as you progress. It would be a wonderful review for him, too.
Another option is to look for a college in your area that offers a course in New Testament Greek and sign up.
Studying a language requires persistence. A person does not need to be very highly intelligent, just persistent. Anyone who will encourage you, especially after you got sidetracked with work or a vacation or something else, is very helpful.
These days there are all sorts of websites with a Greek text you can download or read on-line. You really do not need to buy your own scholarly edition. (Many of these may be the Textus Receptus. I have always preferred a Westcott-Hort style text. But, only a few passages show any significant differences. I like e-Sword. It is a free suite of Bible software and you can opt to get a Westcott-Hort text for free. I also like The Bule Letter Bible, especially for Apple devices. It includes a Westcott-Hort text. And, Blue Letter Bible includes the entire Thayer Lexicon. All of these things are free.)
When you begin working with the text of the New Testament after a first year Greek course, you are constantly analyzing words to know what tense or case, etc. each is. There comes a time when your familiarity grows and you just read them, knowing where and how each fits into the sentence, without analyzing.
I hope this helps.

Alright thank you, someone told me that our old youth pastor speaks Koine, so I'll hit him up, and thank you so much for your time

Unless he is really exceptional, I doubt he actually speaks Koine. He may know it fairly well. All who study Greek get busy with lots of ministry things, and it is easy to get away from the regular use that is necessary to keep it up. Tell the former youth pastor helping you learn will also help him review and stay fresh. He sounds like a good choice for you.

I underline and write in my Bibles a great deal and over the years I have found plenty of things that did and did not work. There was a lively discussion and some great information to be found at :

I have had great results with Pigma Micron pens. They have a variety of tip sizes from .05 mm and up, as well as many colors. I use blue, black, orange and green. I have a thinline bible and for underlining I like the 0.3 or 0.5 size just fine and for writing I like the smallest .05 size.

Thank you for the comment and the link to the earlier discussion. I am sure a lot depends on personal tastes. I am still finding my kit fountain pen equipped with an extra fine nib and filled with red ink my all-time favorite. I am sure a lot depends on personal needs and preferences.

I have used Pigma pens, but was disappointed in how soon they ran dry.

As in, a list of types to avoid, a list of types recommended, in sets of types of use. For example, a brand of kit pens we could look for or just a general term for it. Thanks!!