JERUSALEM — The president of the popular American craft chain Hobby Lobby has opened a temporary Bible exhibit in Israel in his effort to educate visitors on the history and contents of the Scriptures.
The exhibit, called “Book of Books,” is located inside the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.
“We have operated our businesses on the Bible, and we have raised our family according to the Bible,” President Steve Green told the Jerusalem Post. “We started with a Bible collection to tell the story of the Bible, which obviously brought us to Israel, and working with the Bible Lands Museum was an exciting opportunity for us to have the exhibit here, sharing the story of the Bible.”
Green flew to Israel with his wife Jackie on Wednesday for the exhibit’s unveiling the following day, and took a tour of the Holy Land, including the Via Dolorosa.
The display features a large collection of manuscripts, including the fragments of the Septuagint, the Codex Climaci Resciptus (one of the oldest copies of the Bible written in Palestinian Aramaic) and a large portion of the Gutenberg Bible. Visitors are also provided iPads to enhance their experience. The majority of the items belong to the Green family, which possesses the world’s largest private collection of Biblical manuscripts.
The exhibit has reportedly been four years in the making, as the museum has been mulling over how to display the items without offending non-Christians. But Director Amanda Weiss told The Times of Israel that she understands the importance of the display.
“There’s no other museum dedicated to the history of the Bible,”she stated, “which is why this exhibition in this museum and at this time is so wonderfully important.”
The Greens are simultaneously working on opening a museum in Washington, D.C., which will also focus on the Bible and similar artifacts. Last month, Steve Green announced that he had obtained “the oldest Jewish prayer book ever found” and would add it to the D.C. collection. The Greens have over 40,000 pieces to their name, which they began collecting in 2009.
“We didn’t buy them because we’re collectors; we bought them because we wanted to tell the Bible story,” he told the Baptist Press. “The material we have to make a museum with trumps any museum that’s there [in D.C.]. Our story is the most incredible story to be told.”
Portions of the Dead Sea scrolls, a historic translation of the Psalms to Middle English, tracts from the reformer Martin Luther and a copy of John Wycliffe’s New Testament are all expected to be included.
For now, many of the items are on tour in a traveling exhibit known as “Passages.”
“The collection will ultimately find a home in Washington D.C. at a permanent, international, non-sectarian Bible museum to enable visitors to experience it year-round, with a goal of opening in 2017,” the Passages website outlines. “The international museum will also house the Green Scholars Initiative, which brings together established and young scholars to pioneer groundbreaking research on items in the collection.”
Green additionally outlined to reporters that he plans on “developing a curriculum that we are looking at going into public schools in the U.S. as well as places all across the world.”
He says he just wants people to know the Scriptures and their history.
“[T]he more people know about the Scriptures, the better, and hopefully, the more they will be engaged with God’s word,” he told the Jerusalem Post.