Museum of the Bible Scholar’s Initiative

This year will mark an important occasion for American Christianity and biblical scholarship. The long-awaited Museum of the Bible (MotB) will open its doors to the public in the fall of 2017 in Washington, DC. This incredibly large museum, founded by Steve Green, will aim to educate its visitors about the contents, history, and impact of the Bible on Western society. Most significantly, the museum will feature items from the Green Collection, one of the world’s largest private collections of biblically related ancient manuscripts and artifacts.

While the museum has received quite a bit of its own press, I wanted to draw attention to one particularly interesting initiative associated with the MotB: the Scholars Initiative. Here is the description of the Scholars Initiative from the website:

The Scholars Initiative is the research arm of the Museum of the Bible. A select group of senior research scholars from academic institutions around the world are conducting primary research on items from the Museum of the Bible Collection—one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts—through the initiative. Leading experts in the fields of papyri; Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Egyptian and Ethiopic texts; Coptic, medieval, Middle Eastern, early Jewish and early American artifacts; illuminated manuscripts; and Christian tradition and spirituality are participating in the research. These senior scholars oversee teams of established and young scholars who are pioneering new biblical discoveries.

This is an exciting opportunity for students to become directly involved in the publication of research related to biblical manuscripts. The Green family and the MotB Board of Directors are to be commended for (1) hiring acclaimed figures in the field of NT textual criticism, including Dr. Michael Holmes and Dr. David Trobisch, to direct the Scholars Initiative and the collection itself, and (2) deciding to include scholars and students from a variety of institutions in the publication process. It is an exciting time to be a student in these fields, and I for one cannot wait to see how the publication of these artifacts impacts our understanding of the text of the New Testament within the context of early Christianity.

The website indicates that the first two volumes of publication will focus on early Jewish texts and an assortment of early papyri. The volumes are expected to be published by EJ Brill, which means they will likely be quite expensive, so make sure you encourage your local academic library to get ahold of some copies as soon as they are available.

Here is a brief video about some of the manuscripts and artifacts in the Green collection.

Did he say 800-1,000 new papyri?!?!

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