Overview: The Green Collection
one of The World's Largest Private Collections of Rare Biblical Texts and Artifacts
"Our collection is of great historical and biblical significance and demonstrates the Bible's impact on every facet of life throughout the ages—including science, the arts, government, literature and languages."
—Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby,
World's largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer
Scholars have scoured the world to assemble the more than 40,000 biblical antiquities that today comprise what is known as from one of the world's largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts - The Green Collection. Since its debut in 2011, the collection "has created a buzz" (Fox News) and has been called "a sampler of Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant treasures" that span from ancient times to the digital age (USA Today).
When philanthropist Steve Green, president of national retailer Hobby Lobby, purchased his first biblical artifact in November 2009, he never expected to assemble, in less than three years, what is now the world’s largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts.
In fact, the Green family tends to eschew the title of "collector."
"We don't consider ourselves collectors," noted Steve Green in an interview with Philanthropy magazine (2011). "That's not our nature as a family."
What makes them different from a typical collector is that every artifact is chosen for the purpose of telling a story.
A New Mission:
Since the Bible is no longer being taught in schools, Americans today are the most ignorant in history about this book that has shaped every aspect of culture over the centuries, including literature, art, government and science. It is with this understanding that the Green family decided to make the collection accessible so that people of all faiths and interests can learn about and personally discover the book that has altered history, shaped cultures, inspired minds and changed lives.
The driving force behind the initiative, Green now devotes much of his time to providing the vision and financial resources for The Green Collection. By applying his business acumen and marketplace vision to biblical antiquities, Green helps bring to fruition his family's desire to inspire a new respect and appreciation for this book that has stood the test of time.
Green has engaged biblical scholars the world over to acquire items for the collection, direct scholarly research, and use new and emerging technologies to chronicle the remarkable story behind the most-debated, most-banned, best-selling book of all time.
Reaching the World:
Artifacts from the collection have been on display via the traveling living-history attraction Passages in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Charlotte and now Colorado Springs, Colo., (ExplorePassages.com) and the Verbum Domini exhibit in Vatican City (VerbumDominiRome.com). Numerous smaller exhibitions of artifacts have taken place at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and in villages in remote parts of Africa. Artifacts will soon be on display in Jerusalem, Cuba, and Seoul, Korea.
A World-Class Museum:
A permanent home for the collection in Washington, D.C., was announced in July 2012. The yet-to-be-named international museum will be dedicated to a scholarly approach to the Bible and will also house the Green Scholars Initiative (GreenScholarsInitiative.org), which brings together established and young scholars to pioneer groundbreaking research on items in the collection. This would be the first museum to take a non-sectarian, scholarly approach to telling how the Bible came to be, its impact on the world throughout the ages and the story written in this best-selling book of all time.
Highlights of The Green Collection
The capstone of The Green Collection is Codex Climaci Rescriptus, one of the world's earliest near-complete Bibles. Using a new technology developed by The Green Collection in collaboration with Oxford University, scholars have uncovered the most-extensive early New Testament writings in Palestinian Aramaic - Jesus' household language - hidden under layers of text in this rare manuscript.
Other highlights of The Green Collection include (beginning with the oldest):
One of the largest collections of cuneiform tablets in the Western Hemisphere, dating to the time of Abraham
The second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scrolls, all of which are unpublished and expected to substantially contribute to an understanding of the earliest-surviving texts in the Bible
The world's largest private collection of Jewish scrolls, spanning more than 700 years of history, including Torahs that survived the Spanish Inquisition, ones confiscated by the Nazis and recovered in concentration camps, and others from across the globe including China
One of the world's largest holdings of unpublished biblical and classical papyri, including surviving texts dating back to the time of the now-lost Library of Alexandria
Rare illuminated manuscripts and unknown biblical texts and commentaries
The earliest-known, near-complete translation of the Psalms to (Middle) English, including the Canticles and commentary predating Wycliffe’s translation by some 40 years
An undocumented copy of Wycliffe's New Testament in (Middle) English
The third-century Wyman Fragment, the oldest text of the book of Romans, containing history's earliest reference to the core Christian doctrine of justification
Early and first editions of the Douay-Rheims Catholic Old and New Testaments
A number of the earliest printed texts, such as a large portion of the Gutenberg Bible and the world's only complete Block Bible in private hands
Early tracts and Bibles of Martin Luther, including a little-known letter written the night before Luther's excommunication
An undocumented large fragment of the Tyndale New Testament, apparently published while William Tyndale awaited execution
Rare letters and Bibles from John Wycliffe and William Tyndale
First editions of the King James Bible
The first printed Bibles in America, among them the only Bible translation ever endorsed by the U.S. Congress
Bibles belonging to celebrities and historical figures, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Babe Ruth and former presidents of the United States
Numerous items illustrating the contribution of Jews and Roman Catholics to the King James translation of the Bible and other historical effects
The world's smallest Bible - and the largest, containing more than 8,000 pages and weighing more than 1,000 pounds
The Lunar Bible - the first Bible ever to travel to another celestial body
The Green Collection Quick Facts
The Green Collection: the world's largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts
Led by: Hobby Lobby President Steve Green
Named for: The Green Family, founder-owners of Hobby Lobby
Began collecting: November 2009
Passages living-history attraction:
May – Oct. 2011 in Oklahoma City
Nov. 2011 – May 2012 in Atlanta
Sept. 2012 – March 2013 in Charlotte
May 2013 – Feb. 2014 in Colorado Springs
Verbum Domini exhibit:
March 1, 2012 in Vatican City
Green Scholars Initiative: brings established and young scholars together to pioneer groundbreaking research on items in the collection