Man Spends 4 Years Writing the Bible by Hand

Handwritten bibles were common before the invention of the printing press, but nowadays they are considered a rarity. 63-year-old Philip Patterson, a retired interior designer from New York, has spent the last four years copying every single word in the King James Bible by hand.

Philip Patterson is not the most religious person in the world. He goes to church regularly, but he has never been particularly zealous. One might think the man from Philmont, New York, set out on this painstaking quest as a spiritual journey, but Philip says he did it out of curiosity, to learn more about the Book of Books. It all started one day in 2007, when his longtime partner, Mohammed, told him that Muslims have a tradition of writing out the Quran. Patterson replied that the Bible was too long, but Mohammed said that was more of a reason why he should do it. “The next day I started researching pens and pencils and paper and never looked back,” Philip said. 2007 was the year he started working on his prototype, copying the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch, which allowed him to figure out the technique, layout and the type of paper and writing instruments that were most suitable for his grand project. Two years later, he started work on the entire King James Bible.


Photo: Laura Glazer

The exact word count of the King James Bible depends on who is doing the tallying, but most sources estimate it contains 788,000 words, all of which were painstakingly copied by Philip Patterson, on 2,400 blank pages of 19-by-13-inch watercolor paper. He worked at a wooden desk by his bed, for up to 14 hours a day, but AIDS and anemia brought down the daily work schedule average to between six and eight hours. And as if writing every word in neat, loopy cursive wasn’t difficult enough, the modern scribe also penciled in ruled lines on all the pages to guide his writing, erasing them after he was done. “I hadn’t counted on the fact that it would end up being beautiful,” Patterson told the Associated Press. “Or that it would be so exhilarating. And so long.”


Photo: Laura Glazer

Asked what part of the Bible he enjoyed writing most, Philip said the Book of Ruth was particularly enjoyable, because it was a tale of people acting loyally and doing the right thing. He disliked the killings, plagues and other kinds of violence in the Bible, and said that although he respects Jesus for promoting peace and love, he found the character described in the Gospel too glib and condescending to his disciples. After thousands of hours of writing, Philip Patterson concluded that the Bible is more than just a bunch of stories from thousands of years ago. “The begetting and the begatting and all of that, that’s really incidental,” he said. “These people are trying to understand where they fit into this world.” As for the effect the four-year-long copying project has had on him, the father-of-one said: “Every day as I write, I discover something new and it expands my mind more and more. “Not so I can become more of a religious person, but so that I can become more of a whole person.”


Philip Patterson wrote the last few lines of his copy of the King James Bible during a ceremony at his church, St. Peter’s Presbyterian, on May 11. He will spend another year binding the book and making the covers, after which he plans to donate it to the church. He added that he will use any opportunity he can find to do it all again…

 Source: News One

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Feedback (3 Comments)

  • Shirley Posted on May 13, 2013

    Kudos to you! I have not hand written the bible, but … here is my story…
    I love to read and I have read and will keep reading lots of books. One day, I was telling myself that I had God help me threw so many hardship in my life, he’s help me, carried me to the end of a dark tunnel till I finally seen the light.. I believe I had to go threw these difficult times to be who I am today… TO be more sensitive to others.. And to get closer to him.
    So, to pay back my thanks to God, I told myself, I will read the bible from beginning to end.. I love to read, but realized I have never read the most fabulous book ever written..
    I am now half done reading it. It is inspiring. By reading it, I realized I judge a lot, never realizing that I was doing it.. And the bible teaches us that God will judge us as we judge others.. So we should be careful about judging.. And we do not know what others went threw, what their life is like or was like.. so who are we to judge. It is not our job to judge, it is Gods! SO who care if so and so does this or does that.. Does it ruing OUR day, etc.. does it hurt us, etc.. oh, and if it does, don’t forget forgiveness! If we do not forgive, how do we expect God to forgive us, as I am sure what we do hurts him more than what others have done to us..
    So, here is to the last half of my reading the bible.. to be continued…

  • everyman Posted on May 20, 2013

    So Shirley, did you like the part where Jesus summons bears to maul 42 children?

  • Nasfenter Posted on June 4, 2013

    What a horrible waste of time.