Saturday, February 11, 2017

Bible History

 Artist renderings of the exterior of the Museum of the Bible set to open  in November in Washington, D.C.

If I visit the States during the reign of Emperor Trump (I'm reluctant to do so) the trip will likely include time with extended family in Maryland. That would give me the opportunity to take in two museums in Washington DC. One is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which all reports say is spectacular.

The other is the privately funded Museum of the Bible which is the baby of Steve Green, an evangelical Christian and president of Hobby Lobby, an American arts and crafts retailer that boasts $4 billion in annual sales. Green has amassed one of the most comprehensive private collections of Biblical artifacts at 40,000 pieces. The museum alone will cost a staggering $660 million.

I have mixed feelings about this one. You might recall that I wrote about the museum some time ago and mentioned that a noted biblical scholar is overseeing the collection, which is good. I'm pleased that a visit would not frustrate me because of the touting of a particular theological approach. But I'm not impressed with the legal battle Hobby Lobby engaged in over paying for contraception as part of the health care package offered to employees. The company successfully argued that because it is owned by the Green family it could be exempted from this requirement on the grounds of freedom of religion. Do I really want to support an institution funded by a company and it's owner which has taken this stand?

Mind you, how else would I get to see one of Elvis' bibles? Actually, there are many items and exhibits I would appreciate viewing when the museum opens in November. There is also a Babe Ruth bible, although with his reputation he may have been like WC Fields on his death bed, searching for loopholes.

A Gutenberg Bible fragment, containing the complete epistle of Paul to the Romans, in Latin, from Mainz, Germany, ca. 1454. Printed by Johannes Gutenberg and Johann Fust.

Would you be inclined to visit the Museum of the Bible? Does the bible still matter for you historically and/or devotionally?

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