And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests. – Deut. 17:18
I have come up with a lot of crazy ideas over the years. Some of these have panned out well, others crashed and burned, but most of them have just fizzled out slowly. It’s not that I have trouble finishing things, I just have so many goals that they need to be weeded out, like thinning out the seedlings in a garden. What gets dropped is what doesn’t natural flow, or what I just don’t have the passion to complete. Because I hate not finishing things, I often don’t start something monumental. I also don’t like discussing these big dream ideas because I hate having to say that I quit doing something. So you can imagine my hesitation when my husband asked me what I was writing. “Um, well, I’m writing the Bible.” You should have seen the look on his face. He was preparing my eviction from the church on the grounds of heresy when I continued. “You know how in the Old Testament the kings were all required to hand write a copy of the Old Testament law before they could become king? Well, it seemed like a good idea. So I’m going to hand copy the entire Bible.”
Please understand that I realize this is crazy. No, I do not think that everyone should do this. This is not a new concept and it’s not some fad I’m hoping to start, it’s just an idea that I wanted to do in the hopes of deepening my understanding of scripture, my faith, and my relationship with God. Here’s the logic. I have tried a million devotionals over the years. Some worked well, other didn’t. Either way they ended. Most of them were nice, but the daily scripture reading was too short to be impactful. I’ve tried Bible reading plans, but the daily reading was typically too long for me to handle. I know it sounds lame, but in order to read the Bible in a year you are reading about 3 chapters a day. Some of those chapters are dry genealogies and some are so filled with tidbits that you feel rushed. I wanted to be able to spend time in God’s word without the fluff and without the rush. I also wanted to be forced to slow down enough that I really meditated on the scripture passages. If we believe that all we really need is the Bible and the Holy Spirit, than I didn’t need a commentary a devotional, or anything else.
My first step in beginning this process was finding the right Bible reading plan in order to have small enough chunks that I could write in a reasonable amount of time. I knew three years was out because that would amount to about a chapter per day. I searched for a four and then a five year plan. I decided on the 5 year plan not only because I could write that amount in a day, but also because I knew that the chunks were reasonable enough in size to allow for some mediation time. My initial thought was that I loved that the plan had me reading a different book each day of the week, but then I was concerned that I would need so many different notebooks that it might become confusing. I stuck with the plan, but began working my way straight through one book at a time knowing that as long as I checked off each day as I went, I would eventually cover the same material.
Next I had to chose how I would do the writing. While I briefly considered typing the verses, I went back to my original thought of copying by hand. As a school teacher, I know there is value in manually copying information that is lost in the typing process. In particular, I was going to use cursive. I decided to use composition notebooks so I never had to worry about pages falling out of a binder. Composition notebooks are cheap and easy to find. I didn’t want this to be more about the final product than it was about the process. That is also why I chose pen. No eraser. I knew I would make mistakes and I knew I needed to be okay with that. There was no way to make this perfect. I would do my best to be neat and accurate, but I also decided that this needed to be my handwriting, not some form of cursive penmanship exercise.
I decided to copy from my phone’s Bible app using the ESV version. I wanted the version to be consistent throughout which meant always having access. I wasn’t confident that the online version was without error, but I figured it would be always accessible and likely only spacing issues or something of a technical nature rather than a content error.
For additional resources consider this Bible Gateway article.
Five year Bible plan that I chose: South Valley Church