Bible Copier Copies Everything But Its Meaning

Over the last four years, Phillip Patterson, 63, wrote out every word in the Bible by hand, spending as much as 14 hours a day on the project.

According to the AP, he inked the final two verses of the King James Bible yesterday, said “amen,” and concluded with satisfaction that

“Every single curly-q, every single loop, it was all worth it.”

(An aside: The AP, it appears, doesn’t know the spelling of the word curlicue, preferring to render it as a commercial paint cleaner.)


As pointless exercises go, Patterson’s Bible-copying is up there with Most Live Rattlesnakes Held in Mouth and Walking Across the U.S.A. Backwards — but a little worse. The rattlesnake-defying daredevil is at least a bona fide crowd pleaser, and Backwards-Walking Guy is a fitness advocate who raised money for the Youth Development Foundation.

What’s Patterson’s excuse?

Maybe, for ten seconds here and there, he entertained some people in a you-don’t-say kind of way when they learned about his Bible project. Is that good enough to justify blowing spending four years of your life on?

But honestly, for me, it goes beyond that. If Patterson had copied the AMA’s Complete Medical Encyclopedia, or the entire Harry Potter series, that would have made him a shrugworthy eccentric. But to hand-copy the Bible, the book that is supposed to inspire Christians to go out and do good, seems to miss the point of the Biblical message that Mr. Patterson says he’s so attached to.

If you had four whole years to spend, and you wanted to honor Christ, what would you do? Might helping out in a soup kitchen be objectively better than scribbling all 921,820 words from the Bible in longhand?

Other suggestions: You could donate your time to working in a public library, or organize a few clothing drives, or write letters to try and free political prisoners, or volunteer to drive elderly patients to hospital checkups, or set up a bi-monthly neighborhood swap meet, or start a fundraiser for any charitable goal that impassions you. You could sow neighborly kindness, build a community, and help the disadvantaged.

Hand-copying a holy book proves nothing, sacrifices nothing, and signifies nothing — other than, perhaps, a failure of imagination.

[image via the Wall Street Journal