Have you ever heard of anyone handwriting the Bible? At the end of 2010, I started the process of writing out Scripture with the goal of completing the New Testament by the end of 2011. Three years later I had completed handwriting the entire Bible, a spiritual practice I continue to this day.
When people hear I handwrite the Bible, the first question they ask is, “Why?” In one sense, no one really needs to copy the Scriptures by hand. We have it in print, in numerous translations, and at our fingertips with our phones, tablets, and computer screens. But having the Bible is much different than meditating on it.
How My Bible Handwriting Began
My journey began when I reflected on spiritual classic Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. He served as a monk in fifteenth century-Europe, completing one of the last Latin copies of the Bible by hand by a single person. His effort included 12 years of handwriting.
As I considered his popular devotional work, I realized much of it included quotes from the Bible. In his time, this was not completed by looking up references or using Google. Thomas a Kempis knew God’s Word because he invested his life in copying it.
If I wanted to know God’s Word at this level, why not try it myself?
Though daunting, I thought the challenge of the New Testament was attainable. It includes 260 chapters, one chapter per weekday for a year. Yet upon completion of the New Testament, I realized my project felt incomplete without God’s revelation in the Old Testament. For two years, I chronicled through the words of Moses, Joshua, the Writings, and the Prophets.
My life has been transformed as a result.
Meditating on God’s Law Day and Night
When people ask me how handwriting Scripture has changed me, my main response is to explain the emphasis on meditating on the Word. Psalm 1:3 teaches the “blessed” person meditates on God’s law day and night.
In our hectic culture, meditating is rarely given consideration. Yet writing Scripture has forced me to slowly consider every word and fresh nuances of the Bible. My mind would consider the thoughts and feelings of the biblical characters. My emotions would often connect with the story of the particular passage as I wrote.
A Legacy for My Children
Another important implication for writing out Scripture involves my children. I am the father of three kids. I chose to complete my first copy of the Bible for my oldest son, Benjamin. I am currently on my second copy of handwriting the Bible, this time for my daughter Natalie. As I write out the words, I sometimes pray for her and dream of her reading my copy of Scripture someday after I have left this earth.
This still leaves a third time (God willing!) for my youngest daughter Audrey. She is already nine years old. My goal is to complete it before she graduates from high school. Only nine years to go!
There Are Others
As I began writing about my handwritten copy of the Bible, I discovered I am not alone in this pursuit. Yes, there are others around the world who have copied or who are currently copying the Bible by hand.
Amazingly, an entire “Bible transcribing” movement has existed in South Korea since the 1980s. One woman, in her 90s when I read her story, has copied the entire Bible 12 times in three languages—Korean, Japanese, and English!
I’m not sure if I’ll ever compete with her record, but that is not my goal. Instead, I simply hope to grow closer to the Lord and serve as an encouragement to others.
If you’ve never considered handwriting Scripture as a way to grow spiritually, let me encourage you. You can start small—even one verse can impact your spiritual life.
On a larger level, it would be attainable for many people to complete the Gospel of John over a 40-day period. At 879 verses, that’s just under 22 verses per day.
Others feel more compelled to emphasize the artistic aspects of copying Scripture. Rather than writing out entire books, you can meditate on one phrase of the Bible while artistically portraying it through pencil, paint, or a variety of other artistic mediums.
Remember, this is not a competition but rather a means of encouragement. If you are seeking a fresh start with God, why not consider starting with a renewed emphasis on His Words? And if you or someone you know is writing out the Bible, please let me know in the comments below. I would love to connect with others participating in this same spiritual practice.
Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.