Overview: 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, chairman of the board, Museum of the Bible, and president of Hobby Lobby,

The Collection:

Scholars have scoured the world to assemble the more than 40,000 biblical antiquities that today comprise what is known as 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).

Reluctant "Collectors"

When philanthropist Steve Green, Museum of the Bible board chairman and president of national arts-and-crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, purchased his first biblical artifact in November 2009, he never expected to assemble what is now one of the world's largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts.

In fact, the Green family eschews 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 Driving Purpose

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 invite all people to engage with the book that has stood the test of time.

Scholarly Approach

Green has engaged biblical scholars—including collection director Dr. David Trobisch, a respected biblical manuscript scholar and research consultant—from around the world to acquire items for the collection, direct academic research, and use new and emerging technologies to chronicle the Bible's remarkable story and history.

Reaching the World

Artifacts from the collection have been on display via the traveling living-history exhibit Passages in Oklahoma City, Atlanta, Charlotte, Colorado Springs, and Springfield, Missouri, (ExplorePassages.com); the Verbum Domini and Verbum Domini II exhibits in Vatican City (VerbumDominiRome.com); the Book of Books exhibit in Jerusalem; and La Biblia exhibit in Cuba. Numerous smaller exhibitions of artifacts have taken place at colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and in cities around the world.

Other artifacts from the Green Collection are currently undergoing advanced academic study at more than 60 universities and seminaries around the world through Museum of the Bible's research arm, the Green Scholars Initiative.

A World-Class Museum

As first announced in July 2012, Museum of the Bible will showcase the Green Collection and other biblical artifacts in Washington, D.C.  The eight-story, 430,000-square-feet museum, opening in 2017, will be dedicated to a scholarly and engaging presentation of the Bible's impact, history, and narrative.

Highlights of the Green Collection

Cuneiform, Antiquities, and Classical Manuscripts

  • One of the largest collections of cuneiform tablets in North America, most of which date to the late third and early second millennium BCE, the time period traditionally associated with Abraham

  • The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, a large cuneiform tablet from the second millennium BCE that contains text from the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the most important literary works to have survived from Ancient Mesopotamia

  • An array of biblical, classical, and documentary texts on papyrus including several previously unpublished New Testament fragments, P39 (P. Oxy. 1780), and the Greek Psalms codex known as P. Bodmer XXIV (Rahlfs 2110)

  • The third-century Wyman fragment, the oldest known copy of Romans Chapter 5:1, which states that Christians "are justified by faith"—a key passage during the Protestant Reformation

  • Ancient pottery dating from the Neolithic Period (6000-4300 BCE)

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 unpublished and are currently undergoing research through the Green 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 texts from the fifth to ninth centuries CE, which comprises the world's largest corpus of Christian Palestinian Aramaic, a dialect of Aramaic 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

  • An undocumented 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 English translation of the Old and New Testaments

  • A number of incunables, or the earliest printed books, including fragments from the Gutenberg Bible and the world's only complete Block Bible in private hands

  • 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 printing ever endorsed by Congress

  • 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


The Green Collection Quick Facts

  • The Green Collection: one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts

  • Led by: Collection Director Dr. David Trobisch

  • Named for: The Green Family, founder-owners of Hobby Lobby

  • Began collecting: November 2009

  • Artifacts featured in: Traveling exhibits, displays at colleges and universities worldwide, and an international museum opening in 2017 in Washington, D.C.

 


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