Lent/Easter Exhibit at Vatican Encourages Diverse Faith Traditions to Celebrate Common Ground—March 23, 2012

Verbum Domini Interfaith Exhibit Assembles 150+ of World’s Rarest Biblical Texts and Artifacts from Collections Worldwide for the First Time Under One Roof

An unusual collaboration between the Vatican Museum and the Green Collection—one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts—is bringing Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Orthodox Christians together this Lenten season to celebrate their common biblical history. Under the patronage of the Pontifical Council for Culture, representatives of the Vatican, the Green Collection and others gathered today to inaugurate Verbum Domini, a new interfaith exhibit of rare biblical antiquities that will open to the public tomorrow at the Vatican.

Verbum Domini, a 5,000-square-foot journey into biblical history, brings together for the first time under one roof more than 150 of the world’s rarest biblical texts and artifacts from the Green Collection – owned by the American Protestant family behind Hobby Lobby, the largest privately owned U.S. arts and crafts retail store—and other private collections worldwide. The exhibit pairs Pope Benedict XVI’s vision of a renewed passion for reading and meditating on God’s Word with the Green family’s desire to make the history, scholarship and impact of the Bible more accessible to the world.

“As the world travels to Rome for Lent and Easter, where hundreds of thousands of people will visit St. Peter’s Square, there is no better stage on which to share the history of God’s Word with people of all faith traditions,” said Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, who oversees the development of 
the Green Collection.

Set to run through April 15 in the Braccio di Carlo Magno museum, adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica, the free exhibit will give visitors to one of faith’s biggest stages an opportunity to view items sacred to people of the Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Jewish faith traditions.

“The Old Testament and New Testament are arguably the world’s most significant pieces of literature, with tens of thousands of Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Protestants and Jews having died to access, translate, read and preserve it over the centuries,” said Dr. Scott Carroll, director of this one-of-a-kind assemblage of ancient texts and artifacts.

Arranged in a series of rooms that visually weave together the story of how God has spoken to people throughout the ages, the exhibit includes many items of significance to people of the Jewish faith as well as to Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians, including:

  • The Jeselsohn Stone or Gabriel’s Revelation, a three-foot-tall sandstone tablet—discovered near the Dead Sea in Jordan, weighing 150 pounds and containing 87 lines of Hebrew—written in the first century B.C.
  • The Blood and Body of Christ Being Real and Present in the Sacrament, a manuscript from 1534 ascribed to Thomas More, written in Latin and containing numerous references to Scripture, about the Roman Catholic teaching of transubstantiation
  • Richard Rolle’s Psalms, Canticles and Commentary, the earliest, most extensive surviving manuscript of the translation and commentary of Psalms and the Canticles in Middle English composed 40 years before Wycliffe’s vernacular translation of Scripture
  • Hagia Sophia Lectionary, a mid-11th century manuscript that contains Scripture readings along with a list of ceremonies of the great Church of Hagia Sophia, the seat of the Eastern Orthodox Church and the place where the emperor worshiped

“As we consider the Bible artifacts in this collection, we are reminded that we stand on the shoulders of millennia of faithful men and women,” said American Bible Society President Lamar Vest. “By continuing the work of Bible engagement in the 21st century, we are writing the next chapter in biblical history.” American Bible Society is co-sponsoring the exhibit at the Vatican.

Verbum Domini gives us an overwhelming sense of the eternal significance of Scripture and shows us that people of the Book, although differing in theology, actually have more common ground than is often recognized,” continued Carroll. “This exhibit illustrates the surprising unity that we, the faithful, all share.”

Sponsors and Contributors
Verbum Domini is made possible by the generosity of Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, Musei Vaticani, the Green Collection, Green Scholars Initiative, Museum of the Bible, Passages, American Bible Society, Bible Art Museum, Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel, Hood Collection, Jeselsohn Collection, Linenthal Collection, Picerne Collection, Rutishauser Collection, Ryrie Collection, Smith Collection, Società Biblica in Italia, Sofer Collection, Staatsbibliothek Bamberg and anonymous private collections.

About the Green Collection
Verbum Domini marks the European debut of the Green Collection, one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts. Named for the family who founded U.S. arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby, the collection “has created a buzz” (Fox News, 2011) and is “a sampler of Jewish, Roman Catholic and Protestant treasures” (USA Today, 2011). Scholars have scoured the world to assemble the more than 40,000 items that today comprise the collection. Hobby Lobby President Steve Green oversees the expansion and outreach of the collection and will serve as chairman of the board for an eventual international museum that will take a non-sectarian, scholarly approach to the Bible. The Green Scholar’s Initiative (GreenScholarsInitiative.org), directed by Dr. Jerry Pattengale, is the research arm of the collection and brings together the world’s best and brightest scholars to pioneer groundbreaking research on biblical texts and artifacts.