WNYT.com

Philmont man hand writing the Bible

Posted at: 02/18/2013 3:31 PM
Updated at: 05/11/2013 11:08 AM
By: Bill Lambdin

PHILMONT - 62-year-old Phillip Patterson was sitting at the writing desk in his apartment bedroom Monday, just like he does almost every morning.

"You know, in the courts we swear on the Bible," Patterson said. "Nobody's read it."

In the beginning, as Genesis begins, about 2007, he's not sure of the exact date, Phillip tells us he picked up the 1611 King James version of the Bible, penciled in straight lines on the fancy, oversized paper and began.

It's a slow process, generally going word by individual word "and when I sit down to do this, my hand just is able to be lovely in a way that I had never anticipated," Patterson said.

Along the way Phillip made friends with Laura Glazer, who has been documenting the activity in photographs, which the two call the Serenity of Knowing. 

"I've gotten to watch a gentleman," Glazer said. "A couple of years ago I asked Phillip what he wanted to be when he was grown up. He said 'I wanted to be a gentleman' and in some ways I feel like I had never met anyone who was that."

Phillip has some severe health challenges. He tells us he takes 14 pills a day to battle the relentless assault of HIV, which he's fought for more than 25 years. That probably figures into the motivation behind slowly writing in cursive the hundreds of thousands of words of the Good Book, although remarkably, Phillip describes his own religious views as approaching agnostic.

"You know this writing has, on some days, opened the top of my head and expanded into parts of the universe that I had not known existed," Patterson said.

Phillip is not a rich man, living on a monthly disability payment and depending on friends to help him get around.

Phillip is a very patient man.

The subject matter with which he's dealing seems to instill a sense of calm.