Overview: Museum Collections


Ancient Biblical Manuscripts

  • An array of biblical texts on papyrus including P39 (P. Oxy. 1780) and an early copy of the
  • Psalms translated into Greek
  • The Wyman fragment, one of the oldest known copies of Romans 5:1, which states Christians “are justified by faith”a key passage during the Protestant Reformation

Jewish Texts

  • The world’s largest private collection of retired Torah scrolls, spanning more than 700 years of global history.
  • The second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments, which are the earliest-surviving manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible
  • These fragments have all been published through the museum’s Scholar’s Initiative. Scholars and curators continue to debate the authenticity of these and other fragments using nondestructive, scientific methods and textual analysis.

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.
  • 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 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


  • 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 authorization
  • 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