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National Bible museum on horizon
T. Patrick Hudson, Baptist Press
August 26, 2011
6 MIN READ TIME

National Bible museum on horizon

National Bible museum on horizon
T. Patrick Hudson, Baptist Press
August 26, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

has teamed up with the Kansas City business community to promote a greater

awareness of one of the nation’s premier biblical artifact collections.

The Green Collection encompasses more than 40,000 biblical antiquities

currently featured in the worldwide traveling exhibition “Passages.” The items

eventually will form the core of a permanent international, non-sectarian

museum of the Bible, according to its website. The collection’s first artifact

was purchased by Steve Green, president of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts

retail chain, in 2009.

More than 200 of Kansas City’s business, educational and religious leaders

listened to Green as the featured speaker at a mid-July luncheon at Kansas City’s

historic Union Station. Also participating were Scott Carroll, director of the

Green Collection and an ancient and medieval manuscript scholar, and Cary

Summers, CEO of the Nehemiah Group and designer of the Passages’ traveling exhibit.

“Our primary purpose in co-sponsoring this event with J.E. Dunn Construction

and Union Station was to introduce the Kansas City community to this phenomenal

collection,” said R. Philip Roberts, Midwestern’s president.

“I was amazed at the quality and richness of it when I saw the opening exhibit

in Washington, D.C.,” Roberts said, “and I wanted to draw the attention of as

many people as possible to it. The collection’s richness and variety, in terms

of time and width of impact and resources, as well as the enormous quality

historically of all that is involved, is amazing. It is also our hope to see

some of it, if not all of it, here in Kansas City in the near future.”

Steve Green (right), president of Hobby Lobby, and Phil Roberts, Midwestern Seminary president, view replicas of ancient Bibles from Midwestern’s collection displayed at a luncheon in Kansas City’s Union Station to inform the community of one of the nation’s largest biblical artifact compendiums, the Green Collection, and a national Bible museum on the horizon.

Green noted that the collection was started because a survey on interest in a Bible

museum yielded some surprising results. More than 90 percent of the respondents

affirmed two of the survey’s questions – “Do you believe the Bible still

applies to today’s problems or was it only practical years ago?” and “Is

America more in need of the Bible today than ever before?”

“This just goes against what we would hear in the popular culture,” Green said

of the survey’s findings, “and this gave us great confidence that what we’d be

doing, there’d be a market for. The acceptance and interest level for having a museum

dedicated to the Bible – the most incredible book ever written and that has had

the greatest impact on our society of any other book – there needs to be a

museum that tells that story in a very solid academic way.”

The Hobby Lobby president said he felt a need to get the word out about the

collection while it awaited a permanent home. He enlisted Summers’ help to

design the traveling exhibit, a 14,000-square-foot interactive multimedia

exhibition featuring rare biblical manuscripts, printed Bibles and historical

items including a Dead Sea scroll text, ancient biblical papyri, portions of

the Gutenberg Bible and multiple first editions of the English Bible through

the King James Version.

According to the Passages website, more than 300 of the world’s rarest

artifacts are presented in thematic settings that depict significant historical

periods of time and are brought to life with animatronic historical figures,

creative films and interactive elements.

A companion program, the Green Scholars Initiative, allows undergraduate,

graduate and doctoral students hands-on access to the artifacts. The initiative

has assembled a team of world-renowned scholars who direct research projects at

70 universities and seminaries throughout North America and is designed to

foster collaboration between established and young scholars to pioneer new

biblical discoveries.

“The Green Scholars Initiative flips the traditional paradigm, which is leading

institutions controlling ancient documents and doling them out to whomever they

want, or you come to them and work by their terms,” Carroll said. “We thought, ‘What

if these things were entrusted in the hands of excellent scholars and mentors

and democratized, distributed around the country?’ When the entire thing is up

and running, then hundreds of students will be involved and impacted by this

process.

“The different research initiatives are overseen by the leading scholars in the

world via the Internet, and items are entrusted predominantly to traditional undergraduate

institutions,” Carroll continued. “So there are sophomores and juniors working

on the earliest texts in the New Testament and involved in the publication of

those things. This will raise up a generation of capable young scholars who are

invigorated and excited about studying these things.”

Carroll will return to the Kansas City area on Oct. 25-27 to lecture at

Midwestern Seminary about the Green Collection and about the importance of

historical biblical research.

Green said the intended results of the collection are threefold: to present the

history of the Bible; to depict the impact of the Bible; and to tell the story

of the Bible.

“We have probably the most ignorant population we’ve ever had in our society (about the Bible) because it’s been taken out of our schools,” Green said. “We

want to be able to, in a simple way, explain to them, ‘Here’s what the Bible

is.’ Ultimately, it’s about the fact that we are sinners; we need a Savior; and

Christ was that, and He came to die for us that we might have life.”

The collection’s leadership currently is researching the best location for a

permanent museum, with Washington, New York and Dallas being strongly

considered, Green said. The Passages traveling exhibit is currently on display

at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art until Oct. 16.

(EDITOR’S NOTE – Patrick Hudson is director of communications at Midwestern

Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.)