After four years, almost 2,500 sheets of paper and countless pens, Phillip Patterson has almost finished writing. The Philmont, N.Y., man has spent up to 14 hours a day copying the King James Bible by hand, writing every verse and chapter in careful cursive. Patterson says that his nearly 800,000-word undertaking has taught him about the Bible and about himself. “Every day … I discover something new,” he says. “Not so I can become more of a religious person, but so that I can become more of a whole person.” Patterson hopes to finish his project during a ceremony at his church on May 11, just before giving it his handwritten copy. That’s better than leaving it in the nightstand.
In the beginning, Phillip Patterson decided to write out every word in the Bible.
On empty pages, he wrote of Adam, an ark, locusts, loaves, fishes and the resurrection in his neat, looping cursive. Four years of work begat more than 2,400 pages and left a multitude of pens in its wake. Now, as he copies the last words of the last book, Patterson sees all that he has created.
And it is good.
“I hadn’t counted on the fact that it would end up being beautiful,” Patterson said. “Or that it would be so exhilarating. And so long.”
Patterson, 63, might seem like an unlikely scribe for the King James version of the Bible. Tall and bald with a hearty laugh, the retired interior designer is neither monkish nor zealous. He goes to church but has never been particularly religious. Health issues — including AIDS and anemia — have sent him to the hospital and slowed the work. He relies on two canes and will lean on walls and furniture to get around his apartment near the Massachusetts border.
But he has always been curious.
Read more on .. Phillip Patterson decided to write out every word in the Bible.
One day in 2007, his longtime partner, Mohammad, mentioned that Islam has a tradition of writing out the Quran. Patterson, who refers to his partner by only one name to protect his privacy, replied that the Bible was too long. Mohammad said, well, then, Patterson should do it.
“The next day I started researching pens and pencils and paper and never looked back,” he said.