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Weird Bibles 4: Digital Handwritten Bible

June 12, 2012

The People’s Handwritten Bible was created by the Bible Society (England and Wales) and the Scottish Bible Society.  It claims to “create a unique legacy for future generations.”

It’s your chance to write the Bible by hand – starting at the book of Genesis, right through to the book of Revelation.

You’ll get to write at least two verses. The project is unique because everyone who chooses to write a verse will be asked to do so with a digital pen. So there’ll be a new paper copy of the Bible and also an online archive of everyone’s verses you can show to your friends.

The project will begin at Edinburgh Castle on 19th June 2011, the anniversary of the birth of King James VI/I at the castle in 1566. It will end at Westminster Abbey on 16th November 2011.

Celebrity verses were contributed by Charles Windsor (whom you may know as “Duke of Wales”), Rowan Williams, John Rhys-Davis (who has terribly uncultured handwriting),  David Cameron, and a guy who won some television game show called “Big Brother” (what an awfully Orwellian name!)

The King James is mostly complete (although plenty of searches indicate “We have been experiencing some technical problems and are trying our best to resolve them. We would like to apologise to those people whose verses are not yet available to view on the website. Please bear with us. The verse has been written, but the image is not yet online.”)

It is particularly spotty in the Apocrypha.  The search page also indicates that the Good News Bible, y Beibl Cymraeg Newydd (“the Revised New Welsh Bible”), and the New Gaelic Bible, are present, but outside the KJV, coverage becomes particularly unreliable. 

(I am most annoyed that the KJV is identified as “Old English” and the Good News Bible is identified as “New English.” If you want to talk about Old English Bibles, then we can talk about the West Saxon Gospels or Paris Psalter or Vespasian Psalter or Lindisfame Gospels.)

All-in-all, a pretty pointless site, and one that I doubt that will be available in a decade – let alone “a unique legacy for future generations.”  But still, mildly amusing.

(HT:  Brad Taliaferro)

Previous posts:

Weird Bibles 3: Playful Puppies Bible
Weird Bibles 2: Etymological New Testament

Weird Bibles 1: Archaic Aramaic script
An Orthodox translation

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2012 12:21 pm

    I think it’s a lovely piece of religious art. Lovely in the realm of ritual and significance, I mean.

    Think about all the vowed religious who copied bibles for us through the centuries, who were (at least some of them were, surely) motivated by the love of God and of scripture. Now here we have a modern version of the same thing, but a very catholic-as-in-universal version, because it holds together the handwritten offerings of many people from many places.

    If I were in a position to do so, I would have this bible, once completed, printed and bound in a format that was beautiful and included the names and places and dates when each verse was written in the margin. Then I’d display it on an accessible lectern in an appropriate place in a church: in a side chapel perhaps, or in an area of the vestibule, where people could see it and page through it and look for their favorite verses when they came to visit the church.

    It reminds me of visiting, say, a relic of the True Cross. Whether it is really a relic of the cross or not — and odds are low — what I find meaningful about that is the connection to the other believers who came and prayed there. This project has a similar feel to me.

  2. June 13, 2012 2:15 pm

    Certainly scribes are active today. Jewish law mandates that many types of religious materials be written by a “sofer” scribe (on kosher animal parchment): Torah scrolls (sefer torah), scrolls of the book of Esther read on the Purim holiday (megillah), and parchments attached to doorposts (mezuzah) and worn during morning prayer (tefillin). (There was an incident a few years ago of a security scare resulting from a teenager who wore tefillin on an airplane — they looked strange and vaguely threatening to the people sitting near him.)

    And there are scribes in the Christian community as well — I own a facsimile edition (the ordinary one, not the fancy $20,000 one) of the handwritten Saint John’s Bible. That is a lovely Bible.

    Another great work of religious calligraphy is edition of the Facsimile Edition of the Leningrad Codex. It is out of print now, and the prices have become unacceptably high — but if you ever have a chance to look at one, I think you’ll really enjoy the beautiful hand it is written in.

    And, of course, in other religious traditions (particularly Islam and Buddhism) there are also active and stunningly gifted calligraphers.

  3. June 13, 2012 4:08 pm

    Whoops, my claim that the fancy edition of the Saint John’s Bible was a mere $20,000 was far off. In fact, the price is a cool $145,000. This is going to deserve a post of its own as possibly the most expensive (in print) printed Bible — thanks Victoria for prompting me down this line .


  1. Most expensive Bible in print: Saint John’s Heritage Edition? « BLT
  2. Weird Bibles 5: Jamaican Patois Bible « BLT
  3. Weird Bibles 6: A “Sophisticated” Presidential Prayers Bible (plus another with “personal” reflections) | BLT
  4. Phillip Patterson’s handwritten Bible | BLT
  5. Weird Bibles 7: Tyndale in original pronunciation | BLT

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