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HomeLocalMassive biblical artifacts display offers a good look at the "Good Book"

Massive biblical artifacts display offers a good look at the “Good Book”

“Passages” is an extensive and impressive display of a wide variety of biblical artifacts—part of a massive private collection of the Steve Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby chain. The traveling exhibit is currently located at the former Hobby Lobby store on 3974 Palmer Park Boulevard in Colorado Springs.

For the sheer magnitude of documents, “Passages” is well worth a visit. This fascinating display chronicles the history of the Bible from its earliest recorded history until today. The Green family began collecting artifacts in 2009 and since then has acquired more than 40,000 artifacts relating to the Bible and its transmission through time.

The exhibit is comprised of 450 items and takes two to three hours to walk through, but that really isn’t enough time if you want to take it all in. For an additional cost, you can rent audio tour guides containing more than eight hours of additional information. You might want to consider purchasing a multi-day pass that allows unlimited visits—you can even upgrade your one-day pass on your way out.

This traveling exhibit has only been to three other U.S. cities so far—debuting in 2011 in Oklahoma City then moving to Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C. Colorado Springs has been its host since May. In February 2014, the exhibit will be packed up and move to its next location. Finally, in 2017, the exhibit will move to Washington, D.C., as a national Bible museum.

In addition to the U.S. tour, portions of the Green Collection have gone international, beginning in March 2012 with a Lenten and Easter exhibit next door to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. That exhibit was called “Verbum Domini,” named after Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 apostolic exhortation; it will return to the Vatican in 2014. Another similar exhibit is currently in Jerusalem, and yet another will be on display in Havana, Cuba, in early 2014.

Jon Peterson, Community Relations Specialist for Passages, said the Colorado Springs exhibit has drawn people from Texas, New Mexico, Kansas and Oklahoma as well as Colorado. He said they’ve received requests for setting up “Passages” displays in Denver and other nearby locations.

“(However,) it’s not something we can just set up overnight,” Peterson said, noting it takes 40 semi-trailers and about one month’s time to pack up and move to each new location.

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The exhibit is an interfaith and an interactive experience, containing the “second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scrolls,” parts of a bombed-out  synagogue from World War II, a facsimile of St. Jerome’s cave and a working replica of the Gutenberg press. Hundreds of documents, manuscripts, papyri, and even cuneiform (wedge-shaped) tablets are included, some dating back to the time of Abraham. Bibles of multiple sizes, languages, and denominations are also included. The collection is truly breathtaking.

“Passages” also contains a variety of hands-on and multimedia activities, such as holograms of Julia Ward Howe and Abraham Lincoln conversing about the importance of the Bible in the world and its importance to Howe’s “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” An animated “Louie the Lion,” the legendary lion that guarded St. Jerome’s cave, reappears at different places within the exhibit as part of a scavenger hunt to interest children. A Kid’s Interactive Room includes many more hands-on activities.

The interactive/multimedia pieces are not just for kids. The Reformation Theatre features a debate between Erasmus, Martin Luther and Johann Eck about Luther’s 95 Theses. Others associated with the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, such as John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Anne Boleyn and John Knox, are highlighted. A presentation of a hypothetical conversation between biblical scholars working on the first King James edition of the Bible, in the Jerusalem Room of Westminster Abbey, focuses on the difficulties of translations when several different interpretations are possible for the same word (for example, the Greek word “ekklesia”).

Although the exhibit is nonsectarian, portions strongly lean toward Protestantism.

Another aspect of Passages is the Speaker Series, which brings in leading biblical and archeological scholars from around the world to talk about their area of expertise. These free lectures are set 7 p.m. Nov. 19, Dec. 10 and Jan. 7 and 14. Reservations are required. For more information, call 888-297-8011 or visit www.explorepassages.com/.




Roxanne King
Roxanne King
Roxanne King is the former editor of the Denver Catholic Register and a freelance writer in the Denver area.

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