Last Thursday I went with several clergy who have pulpits on or near Rt. 28 to visit the new Museum of the Bible. Much has been written about the museum and I was very curious. This six-story museum is very impressive and is located not too far from the Capitol. The museum's size, architectural design, wide hallways and galleries awed me. Even riding in the elevator there was art depicting panoramas of the Holy Land. That alone was an experience!
We were advised to start on the 4th Floor because it gave the historical, archeological and theological background to the emergence of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. There were many authentic scrolls and artifacts, and well as many facsimiles of ancient tablets. I found this level to be quite good, informative and very respectful of the Jewish tradition. Every so often there would be a filmed actor dressed as a medieval personality explaining some aspect of biblical or post biblical interpretation. I liked Maimonides.
There were dozens of actual Torah scrolls from the Samaritan and Jewish communities around the world on view in catacombs in the walls of the 4th Floor. A living Orthodox Jewish scribe performed the actual art of the Sofer, writing a scroll right there. We spent two hours on this floor alone.
Then we went to the 3rd Floor, which had two entranceways, one in a display of the narrative of Torah/Old Testament and the other, the narrative of the New Testament. I only had time for the Torah segment. It was quite the experience and reminded me of Disney World. The visitors were dramatically guided through biblical time from the Creation to Sinai to the Israelites entering the Promised Land. I found it to be a pretty literalistic Hollywooden, creative and relatively non-critical summary of the Torah. There was nothing about Original Sin either. Great for kids
Sadly, I didn't have time to enter New Testament section. And we never got to the 1st Floor that tells the story of the Bible's impact on America.
I forgot to mention that we had lunch located on the 6th Floor at the Manna Restaurant. Unlike the biblical Manna the food was excellent! A lot of veggie options. Also, it was nice to see Joan Nathan's Jewish cookbook on display!
Come to our Promised Land this Shabbat at Sanctuary to celebrate Rosh Chodesh Nisan, Spring and the beginning of the Book of Leviticus. Wear some green on honor of spring and our Irish brothers and sisters. Brachot, Reb David