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. 🙂


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 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?”

links to 4 helpful articles

1. Before Somebody Gets Hurt [essential reading]

“What we hold in our thoughts, we soon hold in our hearts. What we hold in our hearts, we soon do in our lives. So, my friends, hold Christ so that we live Christ. The world needs to see a viable alternative to violence.”

2. The problem with people is that they outnumber you

“One more reason to put in the effort to find the good.”

3. Shepherd’s Care: Time – the Inescapable Fact

… we must face the greatest challenge as leaders with respect to our use of time: we must be prepared to disappoint others.”

4. The Non-Angry Bob Dylan

“Can it be that in this day and age, when everyone seems angry, that Bob Dylan, once again countering the culture, is one of the few people who is purposefully not angry?”

links to 4 helpful posts

1. A God Veiled in Time and Space but Revealed in Christ

“If humans are going to find God, it will not be where he has chosen to hide but where he has chosen to reveal himself. It is not in quantum uncertainty or statistical analysis that God is discovered. We will not find him in a gap but on a cross. It is here in the most unexpected of places that we discern, as Stanley Hauerwas has put it, ‘the grain on the universe.'”

2. Houston’s $6 Billion Census Problem: Frightened Immigrants

“Fears of deportation could leave thousands of people uncounted … Texas stands to lose at least $1,161 in federal funding for each person not counted, according to a March report by Andrew Reamer, a research professor at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy. Multiplied by the estimated 506,000 unauthorized immigrants who live in the nation’s fourth-largest city, that puts at stake about $6 billion for Houston over the 10 years the census applies.”

3. Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun

“There will be no winner in a ‘war of all against all’ — particularly if it ends in a nuclear war. And that is a possibility that cannot be ruled out. An unrelenting arms race, international tensions, hostility and universal mistrust will only increase the risk.”

4. Podcast: Will God Always Provide a Non-Sinful Option?

“Look at the big picture. What’s being accomplished?”