Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Pepper Bible

A Texan named Pepper has been copying the Bible (I assume KJV) by hand and producing illuminated manuscripts. It is really interesting to read about, although you can't see much of it yet. Worth having a look at anyway, rather thought-provoking actually (I mean this in a positive way; despite some of the historical errors on various parts of the site).

He said: "There is nothing like trusting in God that the page will turn out right, to be inspired at the moment the pen touches the page, only then will you know what to do when you write the scripture, You have to rely on your faith and the inspiration of God to make the pages turn out as beautifully as possible. Sure I have an idea of what I am going to do , but that usually goes by the way side as I start to write the page. This is why each chapter is written differently because they are each unique. It is this spontaneous interaction with the Holy Spirit that makes handwritten bibles so amazing. You cannot plan this on a computer, you have to do it yourself. Go ahead and try it, invite the Holy Spirit into your life, I recommend it highly!"

I'm kind of glad the NT scribes were basically more disciplined in writing each chapter the same (of course 'chapters' is an anachronism). It strikes me as well that there is not a lot of evidence that they would have attributed their scribal activity to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in such a direct way, but perhaps others might know something more about this.

If you scroll down he's got some jolly useful/extensive links to illuminated manuscripts and papyri.

Up-date (27.2.06). Mr Pepper emails:

Dear Dr. Head:
I just came across your Evangelical Textual Criticism page; if you have any questions, fire away. I am using an Authorized Version from 1715 made at Oxford, which is the same text published today, with all of the punctuation correct and it includes the word "The" When Peter says, you are the Christ. That word is missing from American KJV made before the 1830's, which I found by proofreading the Bible. It is interesting that when the Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey sent the Bible to me to correct my text in 1997, he sent an American KJV with that error. I found the best edition in the Bridwell Library at SMU in Dallas.

In John Chapters 18 and 19 I made an interlinear polyglot in English, Greek and Latin, using the Complutensian Polyglot and then translating the Greek and Latin using dictionaries. I came up with an interesting collection of Old Testament references to the Passion which I hope to use in a course for lent in my church.

The United Methodist News Service just recently interviewed me in my church for a television segment. It is being made right now and should be out soon. Also they made a print article, the best edition is on the last page of this

Glad to see my links are of help!


James G. Pepper
Biblical Scribe


  1. I didn't see this in his links list:
    Hope that's not redundant.

    I remember reading about this when they started in '98. Apparently a former calligrapher for Queen Elizabeth II leads the 'scribal' staff.

  2. Let's assume for the sake of a story that J.G. Pepper is using archival materials for his work. Sometime in the second half of the fourth millennium, a thousand years after the great thermonuclear war which reduces civilization to the stone age, some loose pages from Pepper's bible are found in a cave by a shepherd in great central desert of the continent called Beta. A paleographer sets out to date each leaf of what he assumes are different documents.

    What can we learn from the problems this paleographer will encounter?

  3. This reminds me of a fellow who lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan (USA) around 1980. He had the unique ability (back in the days before computer generated graphics) to produce artwork which consisted soley of Scripture verses. For instance, he wrote out the entire book of Matthew in such a way that from about 20 feet back you could see a portrait of Christ. He also did the entire NT on a single sheet of paper: I think it was Jesus on the Mount. That one took a whole year of his spare time. Needless to say, these mss were both rare and expensive--even more so now, I imagine, 20 years later. Eerdman's carried them.

    As far as scribal attitudes are concerned, there are some interesting doodles (Vaticanus and Boernerianus come to mind) which aren't usually available to the layman. A pity, because the character of various mss is an important part of the story of How We Got Our Bible--a fairly popular topic at the lay level.