About copying the Bible

This page contains information on the practice of copying the Bible, which is a continuing theme on our blog and in many of the publications we offer.


Copying the Bible?  What do you mean?  

If the subject is new to you, you can read an excellent collection of essays regarding this subject, we direct you to the book, The Education of Kings.  

For a collection of our posts related to our experience with Bible copy, click here.

To listen to a message by a friend of ours relating to Bible copy, click here to listen free on his website.


If you are already somewhat familiar with the topic, but are looking for help in getting started, here are some questions we have received and our answers.  We don't really speak as an authority on the topic, but encourage you, like us, to just keep seeking the Lord for wisdom!

Questions and Answers

Question:  Do you truly use Bible copying as your full and complete homeschooling program? 

Homeschooling program would not be the term we would use.  Not to be legalistic, but the Bible doesn't use that term.  Homeschoolers use it to differentiate between using a school to teach your children or "homeschooling".  The assumption is, "school" must take place, and it can be in a school or at home. 

We are convicted that rather than schooling our children, we need to train and disciple them, for the purpose of serving the Lord.  That change in terms is not just words, it actually has given us a new focus.  The world seeks after "all these things", but Jesus said "seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added".  The most obvious example of this now is the fact that nearly every school has added 'character curriculum" programs.  They have recognized that attempting to teach academics in a godless, ammoral vacuum has not produced much fruit.  Of course, adding human morals without God is not going to be the answer either, but it is telling.

Anyway, in trying to obey Jesus' command to seek FIRST the kingdom of God, we find ourselves led to many different tangible activities outside of Bible copy.  But we do consider that our main tool.  We have found so many benefits in our very imperfect attempt to put this first.

A husband or wife who did nothing but copy the Bible all day would not be obeying the very Bible he or she was copying, right?  Same is true for children.  

Question:  At what age do you start the Bible copying? How long each day do the children spend on it?  How did you work up to that?

We look at the child's abilities to determine this.  Some reading ability (not perfect) and handwriting skills.  What has worked well is using these cool Expo whiteboards that are about as big as a school binder.  They have lines printed on them for 2nd grade size letters.  We use a dry erase marker and write as much of a verse that fits on that white board, in the handwriting style we prefer (Basic italic).  It is propped up in front of their compostion book (we get 2nd grade lined comp books at Staples).  I should add, it is a BIG cool deal for our children to begin Bible copy. 

As they start, we are checking for accuracy (so they use pencil and we watch them as they begin).  We want them to be forming the letters according to the instructions (start at top or bottom or whatever, for letter b or a, etc.).

Our eight year old was not fluently reading when he started about 2 years ago.  This is so interesting.  Going over the verses with me or a sister, he practiced his phonics (we use KJV, but we have found you can use that to teach phonics!  after all, the Bible is what parents have used for a LOOONG time to teach reading -- before "hooked on phonics").  So, he was learning through many avenues...morning and evening devotions with Bible reading and scripture reciting, audio sermons, video creation science talks, etc.  Well, before long, we noticed his Bible copy errors were phonetically correct.  That is, his misspelled words were spelled phonetically (with tha rong letrs) demonstrating he was sounding them out, not just mindlessly copying words for which he had no understanding.

This led us to try teaching our 6 year old to read using the Bible (instead of phonics readers).  He is doing really well!  It seems like this is another case where the world/schools have it backwards.  If parents are teaching their children all through the day (Deuteronomy 6) God's word, it seems like making the transition to reading that same Word is not a big scientific process.  At least that has been our experience.

In retrospect, we actually noticed with our middle girls (now 13, 11, 10) that they had little formal phonics instruction, but through frequent use of the Bible and hymnals, had big jumps in reading comprehension.  They are good spellers.  One son has more struggles with spelling, but we feel his continual improvement, again, is due to frequent handling and hearing the Word of God.  Yes, he reads other books too.  But nothing remedial. 

Question:  Do Mom and Dad copy also?

Yes, though not as regularly.  We are behind all the children! 

Question:  Do you at any point have them study theology books etc?

Not exactly. They do read plenty of christian books, but our goal is to teach them to study to show themselves approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  However, reading other opinions by believers is akin to just asking questions. 

It really seems like Bible copy adds a depth to reading the Bible and gives them much discernment when they read the books of men.  We have seen that even our children have such a fluency with the scriptures.

Not that we think they are perfect or more spiritual than others...God is still doing a work in their lives.  But we think most christians rely too heavily on theology and summaries and surveys, and God really means for us to get more out of his Word.

Question:  I've noticed that you've chosen to use the KJV of the Bible. Can I ask why? I've been looking for more information about why families tend to use that one over others, and I can't find much that wouldn't take a doctorate to understand, or 10 free hours to read through.

It took us a while to come to the decision we did and there were several factors.  I'll try to explain the main ones, but first I want to say that we don't think that the KJV is the only valid translation or that the translation itself is inspired.  Languages aren't perfect so there is no way to get a perfect translation from one to another.  For any other book, this might be a concern as far as determining the author's intent, but thankfully, the Bible is not any other book.  God's Word is living and active and His Spirit can communicate His truth to us in spite of our weaknesses and failures.

But we do think that the KJV is the most trustworthy and here's some of our reasons:
  1. Original language source documents.  Nobody has the actual original documents that make up the books of the Bible, so translations are based on some of the oldest copies available.  These source documents fall into two basic groups.  Most modern translations are based on a few old and more complete copies.  The KJV and the New KJV are based on a large groups of fragments.  I have more confidence in a bunch of copies (even if none are complete) that agree with each other than in a two or three more complete copies that have been maintained by large (and often corrupt) institutions over the years.  That's the nutshell version of that reason.  There's a lot more details but we might run up against that 10 hour mark if I tried to go into those.  :-)
  2. The character of the translators.  I don't think that the translators of the KJV were perfect but I have major concerns about the people that were involved in some of the modern translations.  Many of them were not Christians and some had views or lifestyles that would logically have an impact on how they would view and possibly interpret scripture.  
  3. The era of translation.  I believe that since the fall in the garden, mankind has been drifting, sometimes gradually and sometimes rapidly, further from God and His ways.  Sadly, this is even true of the church to some degree.  So, given the choice of a translation done at an earlier era, when there was still much more reverence given to God's Word and one done in more recent times when "rationalism" and "higher criticism" and general humanism have taken such a strong hold on society, I would prefer the older.
  4. Copyright.  This may seem silly, but it was actually the final straw for our family.  At the time that our family started copying the Bible into notebooks (see Education of Kings) we were using a mix of the King James and New King James versions.  We actually started copying using the NKJV when I realized that we were actually violating copyright laws.  I don't think the publisher (Thomas Nelson) would have minded what we were doing and we probably could have written to them and gotten permission (at least I hope so), but the whole idea of Man having a copyright on God's Word seemed so wrong to me that I decided to switch completely to KJV since it is in the public domain.  Some other older versions are also, such as Tyndales translation and John N. Darby's translation but they are harder to come by. 
This has gotten longer than I intended. I apologize for that.  But if you're still with me, I'll share a side benefit that we've found since switching.  Having some words that are not common to us while reading the Bible has helped us to read it more slowly and carefully.  We often use a Strong's Concordance/Dictionary to look up the original meaning of a word that we're not sure about.  Not that reading KJV is the only way to make that type of careful study happen but it did have that effect on our family.  And for the younger ones I think it instills the idea in them that the Bible is a special book, not like all the other books we have. 

Question:  With little ones, do you have experience getting them to attend to the Bible even without pictures and other story-like aids?  Our toddlers are 3 and nearly 5.  The 5yo is starting to be able to make pictures in her mind and I have been reading her the Child's Story Bible.  I agree that story bibles are not the greatest but don't know how to wean off them other than pretty much doing nothing until they are older.

It is so funny.  Our baby is almost 2.  No story bible for him, he actually listens  When we have devotions, we narrate in a simple form what Daddy is reading.  He listens and really pays attention!  I think he has figured out that we all gather around twice a day listening, and he should listen to. No flannelgraph or anything!

Granted, he certainly doesn't get as much out of it as we can, but it is starting for sure.

We have found this with other children when they were young, but this is probably our record as far as how young we have intentionally tried this.  I think it has to do with training and their environment.  You know, now scientists say these things about classical music and babies (I assume, I don't follow that stuff), and brain development.  I know that modern child education theories are pretty simplistic and are based on assumptions that are not always true.  For example, for generations, children were raised without Television -- it did not exist!  Previous civilizations achieved so much more than us in many ways.  Not that we are about achieving in man's eyes, but it seems like God wired children's brains from an early age to retain words.

Question:  Have you done the Bible copying as a family and how did that work in

Bible copy is the heart of what we do "academically".  It has made our children so familiar with the Bible!  It has taken us years to get to be consistent, so it wasn't an instant thing, but it wasn't a big struggle either.  Now it normally comprises our first two hours after breakfast and chores.  They have all enjoyed it, and have gotten MUCH out of it.  Its hard to imagine seriously studying the Bible without doing this (not that it in itself is all you need to do, but it gives such a better overview than just reading summaries and commentaries). Geneologies are actually familiar to our older children!  Dave and I are much further behind than them.  I think they get more out of it than we do, though we have benefitted as well.

The world's tendency is to isolate a goal, say reading, and focus on that, but its seems God's way is more wholistic, not just chasing after literacy.  We have limited experience with this, but its been exciting to see the fruit of just copying the Bible.

Question:  My husband and I are all inspired to start family bible copying.  Just wondering what kind of notebook you would recommend?  I guess it couldn't all fit into one notebook.  Is loose-leaf or bound better?  I figured you could save us some mistakes since you have been doing it for years!  Also do you have the children copy in pencil or pen?  How do they correct any mistakes?  If they do it out of order, how do they arrange that?

We use the traditional composition notebooks (the style which is typically black and white marble on the cover.  We use college rule and wide rule, and there is also a variety with fewer pages by the special early writer style (dotted midline) by a company called Roaring Springs.

Generally when they are old enough to begin using cursive, we have them use pen and liquid correction fluid.  This has to be monitored, so the younger ones may have to borrow it from an older sibling until they demonstrate enough reserve in its use.

We have various ways of correction omissions.  Sometimes we cut a slip of lined paper that is carefully taped where the omission occurred.  Sometimes (often with those using pencil) we just give them a big fat eraser.  Correction ASAP is really important, both for the child to retain the information correctly, and to not let it snowball (ask me how we know!).  We greatly encourage you to schedule in a 15 or so minute time to swap books and correct the day's work.  But even with our less-than-perfect track record in keeping up with this, the benefits we have seen from Bible copy are tremendous.

It has helped us to have children re-write messy portions too.

We hope to add more questions and answers soon!  

God bless you as you seek the Lord's direction for your family!