Overview: Scholars Initiative


The Scholars Initiative is the research arm of the Museum of the Bible. A select group of senior research scholars from academic institutions around the world are conducting primary research on items from the Museum of the Bible Collection—one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts—through the initiative. Leading experts in the fields of papyri and cuneiform; Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Egyptian and Ethiopic texts; Coptic, medieval, Middle Eastern, early Jewish and early American artifacts; illuminated manuscripts; and Christian tradition and spirituality are participating in the research. These senior scholars oversee teams of established and young scholars who are pioneering new biblical discoveries.


Scholars Initiative Executive Director Michael Holmes, Ph. D., is a biblical manuscript authority and professor of early Christian writings. Holmes has spent more than three decades in higher education teaching on and researching New Testament texts. He coordinates the global network of academics and student-scholars who make up Museum of the Bible’s research initiative.


The Scholars Initiative is addressing a two-fold need in biblical studies, equipping the next generation of scholars and researching a vast reservoir of primary sources.


Scholars from 60 participating colleges, universities and seminaries around the globe are involved with some 90 research projects on items in the Museum Collection, many of which are unpublished.
The research initiative breaks the mold of traditional research paradigms by pairing students with established scholars for primary research on the collection’s biblical texts and artifacts. The initiative democratizes research as it redefines excellence in teaching and scholarship.

  • Senior Scholars oversee a research project area involving scholars from various institutions and their students
  • Distinguished Language Scholars provide their expertise in their main language or unique scholarly competency
  • Scholar-mentors work under the auspices of a senior scholar to conduct research and mentor undergraduate and graduate students (junior scholars), helping to enrich their education through direct access to primary sources in the Museum of the Bible Collection.

Hundreds of students have already participated in this initiative. During the past two summers, 73 of participating Scholars Initiative students and their mentors were selected for special intensive workshops at University of Oxford.
The Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative is independent of any one academic institution of higher learning or religious tradition. Its growing international presence has administrative hubs at Tyndale House, Cambridge, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and soon at the Museum of the Bible in Washington.


Two forthcoming book series from Brill Publishers will cover both the early Jewish texts and an assortment of early papyri. An international team of textual scholars will unveil research on ancient Hebrew manuscripts—including fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and prominent early codices from the Museum Collection.
The Scholars Initiative Series on Jewish Texts will feature in-depth examination of some of the world’s oldest and rarest biblical texts, including portions from the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Jonah, Ezekiel, Micah, Daniel and the Psalms.