15 December 2006

God's Word Written On Display.


This would make a trip to Washington, D.C. more than worthwhile:

The sacred meets Indiana Jones in the Sackler Gallery’s exhibit “In the Beginning: Bibles before the Year 1000.” Some of the artifacts were bought years ago in hazy back-street deals in Cairo or Ethiopia. Some were found in long-forgotten rooms in the ancient Holy Monastery of St. Catherine, nestled at the foot of Mt. Sinai. A Bedouin shepherd famously discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls squirreled away in a cave in the desert. A sixth century text of 2nd Kings peeks out from behind ninth century poetry in an example of ancient recycling. The eighth century Middleton Leaves were found in the library of a musty English castle because they were used to wrap sixteenth century papers. The thrill of discovery permeates the collection. The gallery, one of the Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has put together the most comprehensive compilation of early Biblical texts ever displayed in the United States. In a respectful presentation, the exhibit tracks the evolution of the Bible from an assortment of circulating, hand-written pamphlets to the formalized sacred text so many hold dear today.

. . .

“In the Beginning” appeals to a wide range of people. Anyone with interest in the Christian Bible or Jewish Scripture will be edified. Those fascinated by history will be mesmerized by the way the drive to spread the Bible around the world impacted art, language, and kingdoms. The Bible was instrumental in the very transition from scroll to book. The exhibit offers scholars a chance to witness famous and extremely rare artifacts they have studied, to this point, only in books. It offers the novice the chance to stand in awe before the very pen strokes of ancient scribes. For anyone with a hint of historical interest, it’s worth a visit. For anyone who believes the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, it’s worth a pilgrimage.

 

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