In the Beginning


Arts & Culture


In the Year of Our Lord, 2000, I was a freshman at the University of Chicago. Come the (locally) famous scavenger hunt, I was charged by older residents of Breckinridge House with the task of transcribing, by hand, the entire Oxford English Dictionary. I regret to inform you that my efforts didn’t garner our team many points. But it did give me a unique appreciation for the achievements of Phillip Patterson.

Phillip Patterson, you see, has hand-written a copy of the King James Bible. And more than that, it’s a work of art. Says the Los Angeles Times,

A 63-year-old resident of Philmont, N.Y., a town near the Massachusetts border, may be an unlikely scribe for the Bible. He is not especially religious, for one thing, though he does go to church. A retired interior designer whose battles with anemia and AIDS have often slowed his work, he began the monumental task mostly out of curiosity.

In 2007, Patterson’s longtime partner, Mohammed, told him about the Islamic tradition of writing out the Koran by hand. When Patterson said that the Bible was too long for Christianity to have a similar tradition, Mohammed said, well, he should start it.

The project took him four years. See more images of Patterson’s transcription, documented by Laura Glazer, here.