Museum of the Bible

Museum of the Bible October 2, 2018

I had a walk through the Museum of the Bible for a few hours this past Friday, and went in with the intention of sharing my impressions here on the blog – with lots of photos for you to see a little of what I saw, as well as to contextualize and illustrate the things that I say here. I received a voucher for a free ticket from a friend before my trip, which was very kind. I went in trying to set aside the important matter of what has happened in the past, and even what may still be going on behind the scenes. Other scholars have been involved with emphasizing to the Green family (who brought the museum into existence) the importance of not dealing in illicit antiquities. Those reading this post who may be unfamiliar with that topic can either consult Joel Baden and Candida Moss’ book Bible Nation, or any of the many articles in newspapers and blog posts related to the topic of the family and the museum acquiring illicit antiquities and smuggling them into the United States.

Given how many scholars and mainstream museums have had some connection with illicit antiquities, that I am not privy to the current stance of those directly involved, and that I don’t think I should treat acquisition of illicit artifacts as an unforgivable sin but should be open to repentance provide a clear change of behavior is evidenced, I was determined to go into the museum and judge what I saw rather than what I knew. Of course, I went in knowing that there is a connection between the Green family and conservative Christianity, and so I expected there to be a conservative sort of slant to things. In short, I went in trying to keep an open mind, but also expecting on some level to be disturbed and disappointed. The impression the museum made was definitely a positive one. Since this is a photo essay, I will have the post span multiple pages, since otherwise it would take a really long time to load, and to scroll through. Click the “next page” button each time to keep hearing more about my visit, and to get more than a glimpse at the exhibits and what is on display in them!

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    This makes me very inclined to visit – much more scholarly than I would have thought.

    • robrecht

      Likewise. Thanks, James!

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    • John MacDonald

      My favorite picture in the photo essay was the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comic book. I was a big time comic collector when I was a kid, and am just loving how popular comic book figures are now in TV and film.

      • Phil Ledgerwood

        Me, too! Although I skewed more Marvel than DC.

        • John MacDonald

          Speaking of religion in popular culture, I saw the animated movie “Small Foot” at the theater on Sunday, and it was all about a clan of Bigfoot (Yeti) who lived in a society based on religious practices that were deliberately fraudulently set up to keep the Yeti separated from humankind. Nicely, the chief skeptic in the Yeti society was a Bigfoot called MeeChee (rhymes with Nietzsche). Great animated movie for kids!

          • Phil Ledgerwood

            Did you ever see the movie “The Village?”

          • John MacDonald

            No, what’s it about?

          • Phil Ledgerwood

            It’s an M. Night Shyamalan flick about an isolated village surrounded by woods that are full of hostile creatures, or so it seems. Because of this, the community is very tight and insular. The story is kicked off by a boy wanting to find a neighboring village to get medicine and the village elders oppose this.

            I’m not going to say it’s the greatest movie in the world, but it’s a fun watch and it deals with themes like information, control, and superstition and the effects these things have on individuals and communities.

          • John MacDonald

            Sounds good. I tried to upvote your comment but the number isn’t showing for some reason, lol.

          • John MacDonald

            The Universe can really be something sometimes. I put an enormous amount of time and effort doing research trying to outline The Noble Lie Theory Of Christian Origins (see: ) And then when I was done and had made my peace with it, Warner Brothers with Karey Kirkpatrick and Jason Reisig just happened to come out with a star studded animation feature about the Noble Lie Presentation of the Yeti (Bigfoot) Religion! (Smallfoot, 2018). This is special for me as a former public school teacher because when we finished units with the kids, we would have a treat for them like a party or a movie related to the area of study. Watching “Smallfoot” at the theater on Sunday was kind of like that for me! It’s hard to remain secular when really cool coincidences like that happen.

          • John MacDonald

            The link to the “Smallfoot” trailer I posted above stopped working, so I posted a new one.

  • Ted Davis

    I also found the Museum very impressive and well balanced–you’ve highlighted many examples of their approach. A large number of scholars served as consultants, including me (for the section on science and the section on fundamentalism). I can affirm that the people preparing the exhibits listened very carefully.

  • Ken Riel

    Nicely done, thank you.

  • Alan Drake

    “Illicit antiquities” is too understated.

    Hobby Lobby funded ISIS.
    And unless they are complete fools, knowingly funded ISIS.

    I knew, at the time, that looting antiquities was a major source of funding for ISIS. Selling black market oil was their #1 source of income, but looting antiquities was close to #2.

    Buying looted antiquities is a crime and a sin at any time. But doing it when it funds ISIS ?

    That I cannot forgive absent a major effort to remedy some of the evils brought on by our Invasion of Iraq. Say, heavily lobbying evangelicals & Trump to dramatically increase the number of refugees admitted from Iraq.

    Absent that – no they are not forgiven or forgiveable. In two weeks, I will have three free days in DC. I will not visit the Museum of the Bible

  • Markus R

    Nicely done! Praise and thanks be to God for his Word!

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Now I’m conflicted. I had heard dire things about the museum, but it now seems worth visiting, but I am now also concerned about the issue of where it has purchased its exhibits from, and who got that money.

  • WaveDave

    I enjoyed seeing all of this…and am looking forward to going! Was supposed to go a couple of weeks ago with a tour, but we got hit by Hurricane Florence and the trip was cancelled. Thank you for the pictures etc.!!

  • David Cromie

    One could just as easily mount an exhibition on the widespread effects of any collection of legends, myths, and folklore from days of yore that takes one’s fancy!
    On doing so. one would clearly see that the current so-called ‘bible’ is a syncretic mish-mash of pre-existing myths, legends and folklore, mostly of Pagan origins.