The New York Times has an interesting piece by Geraldine Fabrikant about a collector building a collection of ancient Bibles. With the goal of establishing a museum dedicated to the Bible, the family behind the Hobby Lobby chain of stores is on a bit of a spending spree. They’ve “bought illuminated, or decorated, manuscripts, Torahs, papyri and other works worth $20 million to $40 million from auction houses, dealers, private collectors and institutions, some of which may be selling because of financial pressure.”
Steve Green is the president of the company and we learn the following about his religious views:
Mr. Green is Pentecostal, but other family members worship in churches of other denominations, including Baptist and Assemblies of God. The family gives to a variety of Christian causes, Oral Roberts University and evangelical ministries among them, and adheres to Christian principles, closing its stores on Sundays, playing Christian music in them and operating Mardel, a separate chain of religious bookstores.
This reminds me of a question one of my colleagues asked me at one of my old newsrooms. He wondered whether Pentecostals were a religion or a denomination. Now, the phrasing above is unclear on two points. “Pentecostal” isn’t a denomination per se, although there are denominations with the word “Pentecostal” in their names. And either way you can’t say “but” other family members are Assemblies of God. That’s because Assemblies of God is the largest Pentecostal denomination out there. I’m unclear on what denomination Mr. Green is a member of.
Still, the story is interesting and provides a lot of detail on the rare book market, without overlooking the role religion plays in this particular story:
The group also bought a Martin Luther New Testament with 44 lushly hand-painted and illuminated woodcuts, suggesting that the edition was made for royal use, perhaps for Luther’s protector, Frederick the Wise.
The book was sold by Jorn Gunther, a dealer who had listed the edition at $400,000 in his catalog. “Book dealers are bibliophiles, but these men are coming at it with a strong belief that the Bible is the word of God and they want to show that,” said Mr. Gunther of Stalden, Switzerland. “It is like a doctor buying medical books.”
I did wonder about one phrase in this sentence:
Dr. Carroll, a former professor in ancient studies who has specialized in Biblical manuscripts, recently resigned from Cornerstone University, a nondenominational Christ-based liberal arts school in Grand Rapids, Mich., to become executive director of the museum and an adviser to Mr. Green.
I’m more familiar with the phrase “Christ-centered” than “Christ-based” and I note that the university uses the former phrase to describe itself. But I’m wondering if we could get something a bit more explanatory for a general reader.
It’s rare to see this much coverage of religion in a business section story. But the piece could have used some edits or guidance from someone with a bit more understanding of religion. For instance, it would be nice to know a bit more about what motivates the Green family. I don’t normally think of “Pentecostalism” when I think of ancient Biblical texts. But I also know enough about the Assemblies of God to know what emphasis that denomination places on study of Scriptures. These would be worthy themes for exploration.