In the beginning, Phillip Patterson decided to write out every word in the Bible. Four years and 2,400 pages later, the unlikely scribe plans to finish his task on Saturday, and the AP shares his story. Imagine who you think might be behind such a feat, estimated at 788,000 words: This 63-year-old may not fit your mental picture. Patterson is a retired interior designer who attends church but doesn't consider himself particularly religious; he suffers from AIDS (which has slowed his work). The idea was sparked in 2007, when his longtime partner mentioned that Islam has a tradition of writing out the Koran. Patterson replied that the Bible was too long; his partner suggested he try it.
"The next day I started researching pens and pencils and paper and never looked back," says the Philmont, NY, resident. He worked on a "prototype" of the Pentateuch (the Bible's first five books) before starting on the complete King James Bible in 2009. His process makes an already time-consuming task even more so: Patterson pencils in ruled lines onto 19-by-13-inch watercolor paper to guide his writing and erases them when he is done, leaving black ink on creamy white pages. He's worked as many as 14 hours a day on the project, though he averages around six to eight. He plans to donate the finished version to his church, but the Book of Revelation may not be his final chapter: "I will take any opportunity I can find to do this again," says Patterson.