Overview: Museum Collections

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MUSEUM COLLECTIONs

Ancient Biblical Manuscripts

  • An array of biblical texts on papyrus including P39 (P. Oxy. 1780), and the Greek Psalms codex known as P. Bodmer XXIV (Rahlfs 2110)
  • The Wyman fragment, one of the oldest known copies of Romans Chapter 5:1, which states that Christians "are justified by faith"—a key passage during the Protestant Reformation

Jewish Texts

  • The world's largest private collection of Torah scrolls, spanning more than 700 years of history, including Torahs that survived the Spanish Inquisition, scrolls confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, and others from across the globe
  • The second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments, the earliest-surviving texts of the Bible, all of which are currently undergoing research and will be published for the first time through the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative
  • The earliest-known form of a Jewish prayer book, providing an important historical link between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the next-oldest existing Jewish texts

Medieval Manuscripts

  • The Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a palimpsest manuscript containing biblical and classical texts from the sixth to eighth centuries in Aramaic and Greek under a ninth to tenth century text in Syriac. The Aramaic text comprises the world's largest corpus of Christian Palestinian Aramaic, a dialect close to the language Jesus would have used
  • The Rosebery Rolle, which contains a translation of the Psalms into Middle English that predates Wycliffe's translation by some 40 years
  • A copy of Wycliffe's New Testament in Middle English
  • Rare illuminated manuscripts, including the Hours and Psalter of Elizabeth de Bohun, one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts produced in 14th-century England

Printed Bibles and Reformation-Era Artifacts

  • First editions of the King James Bible
  • First editions of the Douay-Rheims Bible, the first Catholic Bible to be translated into English
  • A number of incunables, or the earliest printed books, including fragments from the Gutenberg Bible
  • An undocumented, large fragment of the Tyndale New Testament, apparently published while William Tyndale awaited execution
  • Early tracts and Bibles of Martin Luther, including a little-known letter written the night before Luther's excommunication

Americana

  • A first edition of the Eliot Indian Bible, the first Bible printed in America, and the first complete Bible to be translated into a language different from the translator's own
  • The Aitken Bible, the first complete English Bible printed in America and the only Bible to receive Congressional recommendation
  • A handwritten letter from Thomas Jefferson, in which he discusses his concept of religious liberty
  • Bibles belonging to celebrities and historical figures, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Babe Ruth and former presidents of the United States
  • The original manuscript of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," which draws extensively from biblical imagery
  • The Lunar Bible—the first Bible ever to travel to another celestial body

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