And I thought J. Mark Bertrand had a lot of Bibles! Just a few years ago, Steve Green, the owner of Hobby Lobby, began a collection of Bible artifacts. Now, just four years later, the Green Collection is one of the largest in the world, valued at over $40,000,000! Here’s the story, according to Green’s Passages website:
In 2009, Hobby Lobby purchased its first biblical artifact. Today Green devotes half his time to what has become known as The Green Collection, among the world’s newest and largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts. The collection of more than 40,000 biblical antiquities will eventually become the core of an international, non-sectarian museum of the Bible and will be the subject of ongoing scholarly research through the Green Scholars Initiative. In the summer of 2011, 400 items from the collection were put on display in a traveling exhibit called Passages which began in Oklahoma City and then moved to Atlanta. It will be traveling to other cities nationwide. Beginning on March 1, 2012, over 100 items will be on display at the Vatican in Rome during Lent.
To provide a permanent home for this enormous collection, Green is launching a museum in Washington D.C. The Washington Post has a photo gallery of the project along with an article about the historical and cultural significance of its ancient texts, both of which are worth checking out.
The museum has a Hebrew Torah Scroll from the Spanish Inquisition, parts of a Gutenberg Bible, and a working replica of the Gutenberg Press, among many other artifacts. To us “Bible Geeks of the World” this is great news; we’re as giddy as a Trekkie who just found out that Jeff Goldlum will be reprising his role as Darth Solo in a new Battlestar Galactica movie.
But the Bible Scholar side of me has good reason to be encouraged by this as well. According to the Washington Post, “The venue is to include . . . offices for biblical scholars who Green family sponsors.” In a time when Universities, Colleges, and Seminaries are slashing their budgets and opting for poverty-wage adjuncts instead of salaried full-time faculty, it is encouraging to see that there are still philanthropists who value biblical scholarship enough to support biblical scholars.
How cool would it be to see a working model of the Gutenberg Press on the way into your office in the morning? Mr. Green is a man after my own heart. Time to start planning a trip to D.C.! I’ll be sure to drop off my CV while I’m there.