The Bible Passages Museum

Recently, my mom elected to go to the Bible Passages Museum, a temporary exhibit here in So Cal. She got us up at a fairly decent time and we headed off to the museum. Pop decided to come along as well, making the trip even more fun! The exhibit featured four sections with amazing facts and displays that I just had to tell you guys about it. The four areas were Transmission – the spread of Bibles – Translation – this one is pretty self-explanatory – Impact – how the Bible positively impacted history – and Controversy – how the case against the Bible, or the wrong people assuming the Bible supported them, changed history. If you’re up for a rather lengthy journey, lets begin:

Transmission: We first walked into this section. There were several clay tablets on display, called cuneiforms.  We reviewed the birth of writing – we had already covered this in history – and also learned that the tablets could not be made thick and writing had to be very small. There were copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls next. The originals lay in Jerusalem so these were copies. A copy of the entire book of Isaiah was on display. Every damage mark and stitch was visible, it was amazing. A kind gentleman who worked there discussed with us parchment vs papyrus. Parchment is animal skin, stretched thin and finely beaten. The most cheap parchment could be cat skin, while good parchment would be made from lamb’s skin or calf’s skin. Papyrus was made from reeds that grew common in the African region. It was beaten into a pulp and then spread out. When it dried, the papyrus would form a page. The next display showed how damaged and ridiculously careful architects were not! There were copies of fragments of the sea scrolls. It is a shame that such amazing pieces of world history have been so damaged. The next section discussed the Egyptian scribes and the Greeks translating Bibles for their own use and spreading those around. They abbreviated nomina sacra “holy names” by writing only the first and last letter with a horizontal line as a mark of respect. It took a long time to get professional scribes so Bibles could be widely spread. During the 1400s and 1500s the printing press was used on the Bible. Johann Gutenberg was the first and only for a long time. His Bibles were the best quality though because he imported the finest paper from Italy that did not yellow. However, like typing nowadays, printers made mistakes, for example one Bible in which Mark 7:27 reads “…let the children be killed…” instead of “filled.” Another example is the “Wicked” Bible, where they forgot the word “not” on the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt commit adultery, thou shalt murder.” They were fined £300 for the mistake. Hundreds of years later, architects find manuscripts in the Iraq and Arabian areas. These obviously had been translated a little later and not as commonly spread. The next section discussed how Lunar Module Pilot Edgar D. Mitchell brought 100 copies of the Bible to the moon on a tiny little plaque. Sadly, the plague was brought back and sold by the government. Nowadays, the Bible gets digital. More people use the Bible app in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, especially from the Midwest on to the East Coast.

Translation: Saint Jerome translated some of the first Bibles to Latin. He was instructed by the pope to hide and translate the Bible so that all those who could read Latin may enjoy the word of God. Ironically this usually meant those higher up in the church or nobility. While Jerome translated the Bible, a Greek translation was also being made, but not widely used. Latin was more prevalent in the Holy Roman Empire. For those in Germany and France, Bibles were slowly being translated. Still, even there, restrictions abounded, trying to keep the Word out of common folks’ hands. In what we now know as the United Kingdom, there were no translations whatsoever. The pope could twist the words of the Bible however he wanted to have control over people, therefore making it so no one could protest. However, John Wycliffe elected to translate the Bible into English. Many people were inspired by this and secretly spent a lot of money to hear verses read and have short excerpts to call their own. But the dangers were high. Anyone caught reading an English translation was burned at the stake. William Tyndale spread the gospels in English translation, but was caught, “tried”, and burned at the stake. Contention grew between Protestants and Catholics during this period. The country religion could change back and forth with every ruler that rose. Often during the period when a king was one thing, the other group of believers were persecuted. This went both ways. Finally, King James comes along. He wrote about theology and translated bits of the Bible even before becoming King. His translation of the Hebrew Bible, called the King James Bible, is still being widely used today.

The Wild World of the Bible: We visited this exhibit to let out our restless energy and get a few minutes of break before moving on to the next exhibit. This section is fun for kids to run around and be wild. It illustrates key points of the Bible with fun interaction. There was a mock ark set up in one corner, while a puppet theater resided in another. There were two small rooms to watch kids’ Bible videos and a section to get Daniel out of the lions’ den with a beanbag toss. It was really fun and a good break from all the standing still while we stared at one exhibit.

Impact: We moved on to this exhibit next. We read a section on how the Bible is such a beautiful book that it has been the inspiration for over 100 hymns and songs. Bibles of the older days were made with inlaid covers of fine gemstones. There was a Bible on display that had a mother of pearl, finely sculpted cover. The details on the covers were exquisite and you could tell that a lot of time had been put into it. There were two “stained glass windows” that depicted two of the saints of the Catholic Bible. There was a section talking about the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” telling how many consider it the second anthem of the nation and how it was very popular during the Civil War period.

Controversy: The Bible was original several manuscripts. It was adapted to become one large volume during the Tyndale and King James translations. Martin Luther penned the 18 Truths against the Catholic church and left a mark on history that would never be forgotten. The opposition against Catholic Bible standards and Protestand Bible standards rises. Years later, slavery is openly supported in the U.S. and Confederates claim that the Bible supports their cruel treatment. Others claim that the Bible opposes it. We can see here that this is an example of the Bible being used by the wrong people for defense. Finally, during the war, the Confederates wrote their own Bible. Thankfully, very few of these were administered throughout the country for it posed very different ideas about how man is to treat his fellow man. Years later, the Nazis follow the Confederates’ lead and claims the Bible supports them. They damage Jewish property on this claim and destroy several people’s towns and lives. It just goes to show how dangerous this can be.

So that was all we learned in the different sections of this museum. It was really fun, although I do have to warn you, if you choose to go, bring a jacket. It was freezing, the air conditioning was so high on. Thanks again guys and until next time, write on.

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