Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Copyist

A man in New York has nearly finished copying out the Bible by hand.  He wrote the Bible in cursive, with a felt-tip pen, on watercolor paper.  “I hadn’t counted on the fact that it would end up being beautiful, “ he says.  More than five years were required for the task.

A retired interior designer, he got the idea when his partner Mohamed mentioned that Muslims copied out the Koran by hand.  He insists he has never been particularly religious.

Working up to fourteen hours a day, his work was interrupted by hospitalizations for anemia and AIDS, as well as by the death of Mohamed.

The Book of Ruth was his favorite.  He admires the message of the Gospels but finds Jesus glib and condescending.  The sheer amount of violence was appalling.  He tired of plagues. 

Along the way, he acquired a photographer, who has taken 4000 photographs – a small task perhaps, in comparison to copying out the Bible.  The photographer told the newspaper, “He’s not a martyr or a saint.  That’s what’s so nice.  It’s just what he does.  He’s not trying to prove anything to anyone.  He’s making something beautiful.”

He will finish copying the Book of Revelations at a special service given at his church, to whom the Bible will be given, once it is bound.

“Every day as I write, I discover something new and it expands my mind more and more”.  No doubt the Bible, too, is greatly improved for having passed through his hand.

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