Friday, July 7, 2017

Museums of the Bible

The Museum of the Bible
            The countdown is on for the opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., scheduled for November 17, 2017.  Perhaps then we will finally see if there is anything to the rumors of a first-century manuscript-fragment of the Gospel of Mark or not.  In the meantime, let’s not overlook the various museums and research-centers in the United States that already have Bible-related materials on exhibit or in their archives.  Here is a brief look at some of them.
             The Freer-Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. includes several Biblical manuscripts, including the Freer Gospels, also known as Codex Washingtoniensis.    

            The Goodspeed Manuscript Collection at the University of Chicago features 68 New Testament manuscripts, most of which are available to view online.  They include the infamous “Gangsters’ Bible” and a fifth-century fragment of the Gospel of Mark found at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt

            At Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library includes the Kenneth Willis Clark Collection of Greek ManuscriptsMinuscule 2613 (Manuscript 6 in the Clark Collection) is among the more notable manuscripts in the collection; in 2613, the story of the adulteress is included after the end of the Gospel of John.

The Holy Land Experience
                In Orlando, Florida, The Scriptorium:  Center for Biblical Antiquities  at The Holy Land Experience houses the Van Kampen Collection, which includes several Greek New Testament manuscripts, a Coptic manuscript from the 300’s with text from Jeremiah and the apocryphal book of Baruch, and the Syriac Yonan Codex, and several respectably old Latin manuscripts, as well as later copies of the Vulgate and the books which constituted the personal research-library of Eberhard Nestle.  The Holy Land Experience theme park also offers dramas and other interactive events that teach about the Bible and its message.  (Also in Orlando:  the Wycliffe Discovery Center.)
             The archives of the Walters Art Museum, in Baltimore, Maryland, though not specially designated as a Bible museum, contain numerous Biblical manuscripts in Greek, Latin, Armenian, and Ethiopic.  Many of them can be viewed page-by-page online.  Occasionally exhibits at the museum focus on Biblical subjects.   
            The University of Michigan has very many ancient manuscripts in its collections, some of which contain New Testament material.  By far the most significant and most ancient is a 30-leaf portion of Papyrus 46.  Also of historical importance are a 1536 copy of Tyndale’s English New Testament and a 1611 Authorized (King James) Version.

            The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in Collegeville, Minnesota has a huge collection of Biblical manuscripts in a variety of early versions, including Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, and Ethiopic.

             The Morgan Library & Museum in New YorkNew York has a vast collection of medieval volumes, notable especially for their artistic content, including The Lindau Gospels and The Crusader Bible.

            The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has an impressive collection of medieval manuscripts which include some Biblical volumes.  One example is the Terrell Gospels, (minuscule 2322).  In 2012, the HRC has a special exhibition about the KJV and its history; some resources related to that exhibition are still online.  The center also has a permanent exhibition about the Gutenburg Bible.

            The Bible Museum at the Great Passion Play in Eureka Springs, Arkansas has a collection of printed Bibles, including Erasmus’ 1516 Novum Instrumentum.  Inspired in part by a visit to Eureka Springs, Terry Snelling recently opened The Bible Museum in Houston, Missouri (not Texas) with a small but interesting collection.

            The Dunham Bible Museum at Houston Baptist University houses a variety of manuscripts, artifacts, Bible translations into Native American languages, Bible-era coins, and high-quality replicas.  

            The Museum of Biblical History in Collierville, Tennessee features kid-friendly programs and archaeology camps, and hosts lectures about the Bible. 

            Outside the United States, there are other museums which focus on the Bible and Bible-related objects.  One that seems to get a lot of online attention (possibly because of the similarity between its name and that of the Museum of the Bible) is St. Arnaud, Australia’s Bible Museum, which has in its collection unique tapestries based on famous Bible pages.

            Many Christian colleges and universities have small antiquities-museums; one notable example in Indiana is Anderson University’s Jeeninga Museum.  On the same campus, one can find a gallery than includes what is probably the most famous religious iconic image in the world, Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ.