a scribe’s scribblings: a log (15)

More Q & A.

Q. I know you’ve just begun the copying-thing, but what is being impressed on you through this experience?
A. How every word of Scripture is important. How the word speaks to you in some many ways at one time and is what one’s spirit needs to hear. The sheer beauty of the narrative of Luke’s Gospel. There are more matters, but these three leap to my mind right now.

Q. Are you reading anything in conjunction with Luke’s Gospel as you copy the text (a commentary, etc.)?
A. Yes, but not merely so much as I’d like to be doing. I am only reading one book through (N.T. Wright’s uber-accessible volume entitled Luke for Everyone), but am also dipping a number of reference works.

Q. How’s that rollerball pen working out for you? I know you’re usually a felt-tip man.
A. Short answer: different, for sure! Long answer: I changed up further from what I had originally planned, opting at the last moment for a ballpoint (shifting, specifically, from this to this). It is a real adjustment from a felt-tip, but that is what I wanted; another little something that forces me to concentrate on what I’m doing just a wee bit more.

QAre there things you wish you had done for the sake of better preparation?
A. Oh, yes: hand exercises! I am not used to writing so much in one stretch.

Q. Made any mistakes yet?
A. Ha! Yes, but only one that I’m aware of at this time. What was it? I accidentally capitalized the word “festival” in Luke 2.43. The TNIV text capitalizes the word “Festival” in 2.41, but not in 2.43, so rather than correcting it, I just left it alone.

Postscript: I copied Luke 2.8-52 today.

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (13)

Boomer! Sooner!*

I began copying the Bible by hand – my Inscribe project – this morning. Yes, one week earlier than I had previously announced (Jan. 20).

The church’s Immerse Bible reading project will begin next Sun., Jan. 20.

What did I copy this morning? Luke 1.1-45.

And why did I start Inscribe one week early? So as to coincide with my firstborn’s birthday.

Happy birthday, son! 🙂

* This is a nod to my birth state, not the OU football team. Boomers were people who had lobbied for the opening of the “Unassigned Territories” for settlement by non-Native-Americans. Sooners were those who entered the land ahead of the designated legal day and time so as to get a jump on everyone else (cf. the Oklahoma Land Run of April 22, 1889).

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (12)

You’ve got more questions? I’ve got (some) answers.

Q. Immerse. Inscribe. I’m getting confused. Which project goes by which name?
A. Immerse is the three-year, church-wide, Bible reading project. Inscribe is my personal, concurrent write-as-we-read project. Think: us immersing ourselves in the word and me inscribing the word.

Q. Can a person do the Immerse reading project electronically?
A. Yes. The Immerse Bible is available for download on Amazon Kindle. And each month I’ll post the month’s texts to read so that if a person wants to use any translation and/or do all their reading online (e.g. – like thru BibleGateway) they can do so.

Q. About the Immerse project: at what pace will we read?
A. Let me answer with a sample. Following is the Immerse reading schedule from the project’s start until the end of this month. This should give you a good feel for things. Very doable!

Jan. 20: Luke 1.1-80
Jan. 21: Luke 2.1-4.13
Jan. 22: Luke 4.14-6.49
Jan. 23: Luke 7.1-9.50
Jan. 24: Luke 9.51-11.36
Jan. 25: Luke 11.37-13.21
Jan. 26: Luke 13.22-17.10
Jan. 27: Luke 17.11-19.27
Jan. 28: Luke 19.28-21.38
Jan. 29: Luke 22.1-24.53
Jan. 30: Acts 1.1-4.4
Jan. 31: Acts 4.5-6.7

Q. I’m just not a reader. The Immerse project isn’t for me.
A. Soooo, what are you saying? Are you asking me for some sort of “permission” to not drink in the word? Surely not.

… what makes you truly alive is … following every word that comes from the mouth of the Eternal One. (Deuteronomy 8.3 The Voice)

Think about it: what do you read in any given day? You are probably more of a reader than you realize! And if you’re not, you can challenge yourself to become one. Is it your attention span? Break the reading into several pieces across the day. If you cannot due to health/physical/sight issues, then trying listening to the word (e.g. – via Audible or Biblegateway, have someone read it to you, etc.). Whatever the case, I urge you: be challenged by our guest speaker tomorrow morning at MoSt Church, Glynn Langston, who is a blind missionary to the blind!

Q. If I may ask, how much will copying the Bible cost you in dollars and cents?
A. I don’t know how much the Inscribe project will cost because I don’t know exactly how many notebooks I’ll wind up filling or how much ink will be used. The quality of the notebooks I’ve initially selected are built to last (e.g. – archival quality paper, Smyth-sewn binding, etc.). That ups the expense. I’ll say “several hundred dollars,” grand total.

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (11)

As I prepare to copy the Bible by hand, I’ve been reading a bit about the work of the scribes in ancient times who copied Scripture long before the invention of the printing press. To say they were meticulous is a grand understatement. Consider this excerpt from the Talmud on the subject:

“A synagogue roll must be written on the skins of clean animals, prepared for the particular use of the synagogue by a Jew. These must be fastened together with strings taken from clean animals. Every skin must contain a certain number of columns, equal throughout the entire codex. The length of each column must not extend over less than forty-eight, or more than sixty lines; and the breadth must consist of thirty letters. The whole copy must first be lined: and if three words be written in it without a line, it is worthless. The ink should be black, neither red, green, nor any other color and be prepared according to a definite recipe.

“An authentic copy must be the exemplar, from which the transcriber ought not in the least to deviate. No word or letter, not even a yod, must be written from memory, the scribe not having looked at the codex before him. … Between every consonant the space of a hair or thread must intervene; between every word the breadth of a narrow consonant; between every new parashah, or section, the breadth of nine consonants; between every book, three lines. The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a line; but the rest need not do so.

“Besides this, the copyist must sit in full Jewish dress, wash his whole body, not begin to write the name of God with a pen newly dipped in ink, and should a king address him while writing that name he must take no notice of him. …

“The rolls in which these regulations are not observed are condemned to be buried in the ground or burned; or they are banished to the schools, to be used as reading books.”*


Three thoughts leap to mind …

We can have profound confidence in the integrity of the Biblical text as it has arrived to us today.

What care we ought to have with the word of the Lord.

What level of, and evidence for, such confidence and care for what God has said is there in my life?

* Source: How We Got the Bible by Neil R. Lightfoot (Baker, 2003); pp.133-134, who is citing from Frederick Kenyon’s work ‘Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts’ (Harper, 1958).

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (10)

Today, the countdown begins. T-10. As in just ten more days until the Immerse Bible reading project – and my Bible-copying project – begins.

It (finally) occurs to me that as the reading portion of this effort has a project name (Immerse), the writing portion deserves one, too. Inscribe seems fitting.

inscribe: to write, engrave, or print as a lasting record

So it is.

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (9)

I plan to do the vast majority of my Bible-copying while standing.

Why? Three reasons.

First, because I believe I’ll do better work – both in terms of focus of spirit and legibility of writing – if I stand while writing.

Second, because the scenes in Nehemiah 8-9 have been favorites of mine, deeply impressive to me for a very long time, since the first time I ever read them, actually. As you read that passage, pay attention to who stands and for how long. [And if you can’t stand reading all of that (sorry, that pun was simply too easy to pass up) at least read these verses – 8.1-4a; 9.3]

Third, because I already do the vast majority of my work while standing and have done so for quite some time now.

So, do pray specifically for my knees, too, please. 🙂