I recently connected online with educator Mrs. Sharon C. (Martz) Pasquarette. In addition to teaching, she is a mother and grandmother in Pennsylvania who has been handwriting the Bible from start to finish. She graciously agreed to answer some questions about her handwritten Bible, currently completed from Genesis through Luke, to encourage others who may be interested in handwriting Scripture themselves.
1. What led you to start handwriting the Bible?
I realized that as I entered the second half of my life, that I have nothing of any deep value to leave my children and grandchildren. My husband and I are prepared to leave them the standard assets, but I wanted to leave them so much more.
To fall asleep at night, I spent time with TV or ‘Brain Games.’ I thought, “What if that time was spent on something that would carry lasting meaning for my children?”
When I thought about what to leave them, I quickly knew there was only one answer. It had to be the Word of God. I knew there was nothing else of lasting, life-changing significance; nothing else that would bridge the valleys of life.
By handwriting it, I believe it will show them how important I believe it is for them to find peace, happiness, and hope in a culture that largely does not speak, value, or promote these things. The most important things only come from God. While it may sound myopic to some, I believe it is through Him that we can know confidently who we are and, without Him, we will never be complete.
2. What have you learned handwriting Scripture? What has God taught you in the process?
By writing Scripture, I have learned that what I thought I knew, because I have been in His service for 32 years, was minuscule, to me, almost privately embarrassing.
I have learned that the more I learn, the less I know. His Word is phenomenally powerful, full of invitations to walk further with Him.
Also, His Word has a physical end, but spiritually, there are no boundaries. It is fascinating, engaging, and infinite.
Further, the more I learn, the more questions I have. I have learned that my paradigms and perceptions of who God is were solid, but shallow.
I am learning that the man of Jesus carries a profound wisdom and character and that my understanding, prior to writing down his responses to human nature and behavior, were more childlike, even though I thought I was more mature in my understanding.
I find that his Word provides self-reflection, motivation, and accountability. I find at times, that what I thought he meant, was not what he meant. I find that I am very careful to err of the side of uncertainty, as I do not want to misinterpret his Word as I seek to understand it.
I know, even though I have “written the Bible,” that I would have to write it many times before I might begin to have a more comprehensive understanding.
Not that he is out of our reach by any means, but that he is so wisely profound. So easy to love. So present. I have enjoyed piecing things together like the genealogies. I was amazed at how defined the building stipulations were for the temple.
Learning things that I didn’t know, for example, that Jesus was struck on the head several times prior to his crucifixion. That he commissioned 72 people to go out ahead of him at the same time he was with his disciples.
3. How long have you been handwriting Scripture? What has the process been like so far?
I started in February 2015. I thought, without looking, that it was probably a pretty common thing to do. I did underestimate that project, and when I started, I was hoping to have it done by that November when my oldest son was married.Being a teacher, I had often wondered how many miles of lessons I had written on chalkboards and I thought, hey, this will be peanuts! 🙂
But then, I began to search on the internet out of curiosity and realized that only a handful of people, that I could find, had completed it in the United States. Dillon Burroughs was the only one I could find on Facebook and I was eager to learn more.
I looked online for him and found some of his work. There were two others, a woman named Mona, though a YouTube video, and a man named Phillip Paterson, also on YouTube, but Dillon seemed to be able to encourage others, and speak about the endeavor which is really what I was curious about.
4. As others have heard about you handwriting Scripture, what responses have you received?
My friends have been like cheerleaders. They surprise me with their interest and support. When I finished the Old Testament, a few of them even sent me cards. They seem surprised at my “self-discipline.” I thought that was perplexing as I never perceived myself as such.
It has never felt like a marathon, a pressure, or a misery. It doesn’t take much time. A half hour per day adds up and I have skipped a summer and several weeks here and there.
I take it to school with me and write when I can. The students are curious and will ask me what I am writing. They put their hands together like they just made a touchdown. Due to separation of church and state in public schools, I never initiate the conversation; I have never needed to.
5. What do you plan to do with your handwritten Bible after it is completed?
I am uncertain of the answer to this question. I know it will remain in my possession until it’s time to move on. But, I am open to sharing it with others as long as the original stays with me. I plan to have it leather bound and embossed on the cover. I believe there is a man who still does this in Pittsburgh, but I have to investigate it further.
The volumes I am using are thread bound together already. It is a heavier and durable paper. I’m currently on the 11th volume.
Thanks, Sharon, for your inspiring work (and words)! You can follow her journey at https://www.facebook.com/Definitive-Divinity-Project-681941548580854.
Note from Dillon: Do you know others who have handwritten the Bible or are currently doing so? Please share your stories in the comments below or email me at dillon at dillonburroughs dot org.
Dillon Burroughs is the author and coauthor of numerous books and blogs about his experiences of handwriting the Bible at the Holy Writ Project on Patheos.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook or Twitter.