a scribe’s scratchings: (8)

More questions; more answers.

Q.  Since you’ll be writing in ink, what will you do when you make a mistake?
A. If I see it? Correct it! A multitude of scrolls of professional scribes in ancient times that remain to this day are not strangers to rare, but real, slip-ups. I am not better than them and so I know before I begin that this copy of mine will not be without fault. And that’s okay. Since the Author doesn’t expect me to be perfect in my daily attempts to imitate Christ in life, I’m confident he will not be let down by my honest, but feeble, attempt to copy his words.

Q. Have you ever personally known someone who copied the Bible by hand?
A. Personally? No. Known of some who did? Sure. Google it. Better yet, use DuckDuck Go.

Q. What’s the best way to keep up with you and your experiences with this project?
A. Check the near daily postings I’ll make right here on my site.

Q. How can I pray for you as you do this?
A. Do, please, praise him with me, reveling in the fact that he shines light into our darkness, not leaving us without illumination and direction, guidance and insight, instruction and correction. Thank God for the health of eyesight and hand that I have to do this. Ask our Father that I may daily approach it all with sincerity and purity of heart, humility and keenness of mind, and strength and perseverance in all my ways. Ask that good seed be planted in others through this effort to the praise of our Lord and Savior. Ask that the fruit of his Spirit would increase in my life. Rejoice with me in this privilege to encounter Scripture in this way.

Q. How will you format your writing?
A. I haven’t decided. But, I know it will be in one of two ways: (1) either following the formatting of the particular translations I’ll be using or (2) utilizing the formatting found in the paperback editions of Immerse: The Reading Bible. I’ll make up my mind on that matter.

Q. What do you intend to do with the copies when you finish?
A. I haven’t made up my mind on that either; however, I have considered distributing it among my family. The format of the Immerse Bible arranges the text in six segments;  fourteen (14) groups of literature. 1 parent + 2 in-laws + 1 wife + 4 children and their spouses + 5 grandchildren + me = 14 people. Hmmmm.

Q. What if you don’t finish?
A. I don’t entertain that thought. Instead, I think: what if I do! Besides, the good doesn’t come only at the finish, it comes, quite literally, every day along the way, and beyond.

Q. What was that URL for the Immerse Bible reading project?
A. http://immersebible.com/

a scribe’s scratchings (7)

Here are some answers to some of the questions recently put to me regarding my upcoming copy-the-Bible-by-hand project. Perhaps you have some of the same questions.

Q. Where will you find the time to do this?
A. I’ll make the time primarily by getting up a bit earlier, cutting back some on my non-Bible reading time, scaling back on social media consumption and engagement, and just being a bit more self-disciplined in general.

Q. Will you write the same texts the church reads each day?
A. Yes and no. The church reading project (Immerse) divides itself into six, sixteen-week segments (32 weeks each year) of reading across the span of three years. That means everyone has twenty weeks “off” time during each of the three years. However, I’ll do my reading and writing essentially straight through (i.e. – only a very few weeks of break each year).

So, yes, like the rest of the church family, I’ll be reading the same thing each day, but for my writing project, no, my reading and writing won’t be “on the same page.” We will start and end at the same time, but the church’s reading and my writing will operate at different speeds.

Q. Some sermons will spring from this reading/writing. Will there be other connections?
A. Yes, among them: occasional mini-series in Bible classes that I lead, my weekly devotionals at St. James house, my postings on this blog of mine, pictures that I take, postings on Facebook and Instagram, some contacts with other portions of our Sunday morning assemblies (e.g. – Scripture reading, communion meditations, fun printed quizzes, etc.), and, God willing, more.

Q. What do you think will be your biggest problem(s) getting the writing done?
A. All of us have this in common: daily life brings us a multitude, and wide variety, of unexpected things. Life’s “unexpecteds,” big and small, will perhaps be the biggest challenge.

Q. Got a specific Scripture you connect with this project? A “verse of guidance?”
A. Yes. In fact, it is the passage from which I preached yesterday morning. Here it is:

“… with humility … welcome the word planted deep inside you — the very word that is able to save you.” (James 1.21 CEB)

I’ve memorized this passage and I encourage everyone who participates in the reading portion of this project to do so.

Q. I know you hate your handwriting. How do you see that working out for you?
A. I suspect most folks who put Scripture into their own handwriting strive not merely for accuracy of copy but, also to render it all in their very best penmanship. While the former will certainly have my grand attention, I will not care so much for the latter. After all, my best handwriting is not all that great. I can’t do “pretty,” but I can do “practical,” so I’ll concern myself with the practical and try to just let the rest go. Not sloppy, of course, but I’m not going to be OC about it either. I’m not doing this for looks, but for effect.

Q. What exactly will you write in and with?
A. That will vary through the course of the project as I’ll use different pens for different groups of the Bible’s literature. We’ll begin our reading (and my writing) in Luke-Acts and so I’ve decided to write that portion with a favorite rollerball pen and some journals given to me by my daughter and son-in-law.

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (6)

This copy-the-whole-Bible-by-hand thing I’ll have going soon (starting Jan. 20) runs concurrent with our upcoming church-wide Bible reading project at MoSt Church. That project is known as Immerse.

Both the reading project and my writing will make use of a unique order of reading Scripture. Following is a listing of the books of the Bible in which we’ll read them, and I will write them, over the course of the next three years (2019-2021).

During 2019:
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Corinthians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy
1 & 2 Peter
1-3 John

During 2020:
1-2 Samuel
1-2 Kings

During 2021:
Song of Songs
1-2 Chronicles

links to 7 items worth your time

1. Yes, You Can Be an Ethical Tech Consumer. Here’s How [essential reading]

“Products that we enjoy continue to create privacy, misinformation and workplace issues. We can do better at getting the industry to do better. … We are the buyers, users and supporters of the products and services that help Big Tech thrive. … So what do we do at this point to become more ethical consumers?”

2. In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books [required reading]

“Do not quit before you start. … Do the simple math. … Find the time. … Execute.”

3. How Cancer Changes Hope by Kate Bowler

“Much of Christian theology rests on the image of God as the ultimate reality beyond time and space, the creator of a past, present and future where all exists simultaneously in the Divine Mind. But where does that leave the bewildered believer who cannot see the future and whose lantern casts light only backward, onto the path she has already taken?”

4. The Virtual Commentary on Scripture

“The Visual Commentary on Scripture (VCS) is a freely accessible online publication that provides theological commentary on the Bible in dialogue with works of art. It helps its users to (re)discover the Bible in new ways through the illuminating interaction of artworks, scriptural texts, and commissioned commentaries. The VCS combines three academic disciplines: theology, art history, and biblical scholarship. While the project’s main commitment is to theology, it is responsibly informed by the latter two disciplines.”

5. The Otherworldly Beauty of a Dying Sea

“The Dead Sea is falling by more than a meter a year, and paradoxically, its destruction is revealing an eerie, enchanting world below the waters.”

6. Let Winter Do Its Work

“Winter has important work to do. Let winter do its work.”

7. Bono’s Testimony [11 min. video; essential viewing]

“… he [Jesus] was the Son of God or he … was nuts. … I find it hard to accept that wholly millions and millions of lives, half the earth, for two thousand years, have been touched, have felt their lives touched, and inspired, by some nutter. I don’t believe it.”

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (5)

… don’t begin until you count the cost. (Luke 14.28 NLT)

DOH! I misguesstimated! [wiping the metaphorical egg off of my face and mopping up the drippings on my keyboard]

While doing some practice writing this morning and reviewing my first “wild guesstimate” of the time it will require me to copy the Bible by hand, I have come to a stunning conclusion: I grossly underestimated the time investment required for this project.

Let’s do the math; I’ll show my work.

First: how many words will I copy? That’s hard to say. The statistics not only vary by translation (and I will be utilizing several translations, not just one), but the statistics I can find of various translations also vary a bit. Go figure.

So, for my original guesstimation, I came up with the figure of 765,000 words. How did I come by that? According to some sources, there are just a bit over 740,000 words to be found in (one edition of) the New International Version of the Bible (NIV). Some say there are just over 780,000 words in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). So, I split the difference (760,000 is mid-way between 740,000 and 780,000) and added just a wee bit for good measure. Thus, 760,000 + 5,000 = 765,000.

Second: how fast will I write? That, too, is a hard figure to come by. There are just so many variables (e.g. – the length and difficulty of words, how I’m feeling on any given day, interruptions, etc.). To experiment, I did some practice writing of some random sentences from the Gospels and Paul’s letters and timed such with a sixty second countdown timer.

Averaging my findings I found that I was writing at about 14 words per minute (wpm). That works out to 840 words per hour. 765,000 words divided by 840 results in just a bit over 910 hours. Rounding down to 900 hours and breaking it up into a period of 3 years, I came up with 300 hours of writing per year … or one hour per day, six days per week, for 50 of the 52 weeks of each year.

Does that sound like sound reasoning?

Well, it isn’t!

First, that figure didn’t have any rest time built into it. I seriously doubt that at the start of this project I can legibly write for an hour straight. After all, I haven’t done that since grad school days!

Second, what of my sample sentences? Were the Gospels and Paul’s letters sufficient examples from which to estimate? Now I don’t think so. So, this morning I did some more writing, but this time from passages that contain many words unfamiliar to me (i.e.- I can’t spell them in my head; I’ll have to sight-write them because they’re foreign to me). And so, samples from across 1 Chronicles 1-9 – dare I say it, the most dry and boring reading in the entire Bible – was this morning’s new proving ground.

And third, what about the most subjective of all variables: the pause given to me by what a text is saying? After all, I certainly do not wish to merely copy words from page to page! The purpose of this effort is to truly think about and feel what is being said while I write, as well as after I write. I had not included very much time at all for that in my first attempt with math. Shame on me.

All of that to say: this morning it appears to me that 9 1/2 wpm is a much more reasonable and doable speed of writing than 14. However, if I write at that rate (570 words per hour; 855 per hour and a half) over the course of 3 years, then I’m no longer at one hour per day with this project, but more like one and a half hours per day (855 words per day x 900 days = 765,000 words.

Bottom line? 90 minutes per day is my guesstimate now, not 60! Instead of an hour in the early morning, more likely an hour in the morning and an additional half hour at night.

It counts to do some counting, twice even, before one begins!

a scribe’s scratchings: a log (4)

But they all alike began to make excuses. (Luke 14.18)

For a very long time now I’ve had the inkling in my head to copy the Bible by hand. And for a very long time now I’ve not acted on that inkling. I mean, in this regard I’ve put the pro in procrastination. My reasons: time and handwriting.

I say reasons. Rub that out. Completely. Replace it with a more accurate word: excuses.

Time. We all have the same amount of it each day. Of course, by no means are those hours all spoken for in the same way. And, due to profound responsibilities and necessities, some of us have precious “free” time each week. But, spending some time in the word of the Lord, well, this is a profound necessity we dare not skimp on or attempt to skirt; even if it is just a single sentence each day. And so, the only question that remains is exactly how we’ll spend that time in his revelation to us.

As for me, since I can read and write, then I can do both as I read. And so, to say to myself “I do not have enough time to write out Scripture” is simply empty self-deception.

Handwriting. Mine is horrific. Why, except for my signature, I gave up cursive while still in college. That’s been awhile. I, quite literally, can no longer even correctly form the cursive alphabet! [I just tried] And my hand-printing? Think whatever the antonym is of “draftsman;” I call it “encryption.” Oh, it is legible to me, but I’m always embarrassed for others to see it. No small number of people have commented or jabbed me about it through the years.

But, I must ask myself: why will I copy the Bible by hand? If the primary reason is not about others reading it, but is about my reading and experiencing it for own gain, then so long as I can still read my own handwriting, why should I care one wit what it looks like to others? While others will see it, this is not so much about display to others as it is for development of my walk with the Author.

And so … I am done with these lame excuses. Done, done, done, I say.

But, in so saying, this gives me pause … what other “reasons” in other areas of my life are actually just “excuses?”

a scribe’s scratchings: a log (3)

SCRIBES: Persons who can read and write. (Kim Paffenroth; Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible)

Not everyone can, you know.

As in, never could. Or, once could, but can’t now. Or, can do one, but not the other.

I am privileged, for I can do both.

And if I make use of that privilege, how will I use it?

Like everything else in my life and what I want my life to be about, I pray: to draw closer to God.

And that is the main reason I’ve decided to copy the entire Bible by hand.