New Bible museum moves closer to opening


WASHINGTON, D.C. — A yet-to-be-named Bible museum owned by Hobby Lobby's Green family moved one step closer to its anticipated 2017 opening in Washington, D.C., with the hiring of two top-level management executives.

The Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit organization that will oversee the museum, hired David Trobisch as director of the museum's collections and Steve Bickley as vice president of marketing, finance and administration, according to a March 6 news release.

The museum, which will focus on the story, history and impact of the Bible, will be located in a reconstructed 400,000-square-foot space that formerly was the Washington Design Center, just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol.

Housed in the museum will be a collection of 40,000 ancient biblical texts and artifacts, including one of the world's largest private collections of Dead Sea Scrolls and the earliest surviving New Testament texts in Jesus' household language.

Steve Green, museum chairman and president of the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts retail chain, lauded Trobisch's expertise as an independent Bible scholar who consults with the American and German Bible societies.

"When we looked in the academic community for ... a scholar to lead our acquisition and research efforts, David Trobisch was mentioned time and again as someone who is a very skilled, distinguished scholar," Green said. Trobisch will advise on new acquisitions, identify the storylines for the museum's exhibits and supervise a team of 30 scholars and curators.

Bickley had been executive vice president of marketing and business development for Bell Media, Canada's largest media company.

Developing a museum to educate the world about the Bible is an important move, Green has said.

"We have probably the most ignorant population we've ever had in our society [about the Bible] because it's been taken out of our schools," Green said. "We want to be able to, in a simple way, explain to them, 'Here's what the Bible is.' Ultimately, it's about the fact that we are sinners, we need a Savior and Christ was that. And He came to die for us that we might have life."

Green is owner of the world's largest private collection of rare biblical texts and artifacts, and he only began the endeavor in 2009. He believes the Bible is "the most incredible book ever written" and that it has "had the greatest impact on our society of any other book." He plans for the museum to tell the story of the Bible in a solid, academic way.

Until the museum opens, the Green Collection is featured in the worldwide traveling exhibition "Passages." The 14,000-square-foot interactive multimedia exhibition includes rare biblical manuscripts, printed Bibles and historical items including ancient biblical papyri, portions of the Gutenberg Bible and multiple first editions of the English Bible through the King James Version.

A spokesperson for the Green Collection said the family amassed the collection "not to lock it away for safekeeping or tuck into a think tank but to share it with the world. They don't consider themselves collectors. Their goal is to make the history, scholarship and impact of the Bible accessible to everyone."

Highlights of the Green Collection
•     One of the largest collections of cuneiform tablets in the Western Hemisphere

•     The second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scrolls, all of which are unpublished and expected to substantially contribute to an understanding of the earliest surviving texts in the Bible

•    The world's largest private collection of Jewish scrolls, spanning more than 700 years of history, including Torahs that survived the Spanish Inquisition, ones confiscated by the Nazis and recovered in concentration camps, and others from across the globe including China

•     One of the world's largest holdings of unpublished biblical and classical papyri, including surviving texts dating back to the time of the now-lost Library of Alexandria

•     Rare illuminated manuscripts and unknown biblical texts and commentaries

•     The earliest-known, near-complete translation of the Psalms to (Middle) English, including the Canticles and commentary predating Wycliffe's translation by some 40 years

•     An undocumented copy of Wycliffe's New Testament in (Middle) English

•     A number of the earliest printed texts, including a large portion of the Gutenberg Bible and the world's only complete Block Bible in private hands

•     Early tracts and Bibles of Martin Luther, including a little-known letter written the night before Luther's excommunication

•     An undocumented large fragment of the Tyndale New Testament, apparently published while he awaited execution

•     Numerous items illustrating the contribution of Jews and Catholics to the King James translation of the Bible and other historical effects

— BP