Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would see a portion of the Dead Sea Scrolls containing one of the earliest texts of the Book of Genesis. Nor a digital Bible once taken to the Moon. But last week I had a chance to attend an event at “Passages,” a traveling exhibit now in place in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Passages is a multimedia exhibit that tells the dramatic story of the Bible, a book considered the “most-banned, most-debated, best-selling book of all time.” The exhibit takes you through Judeo-Christian history from the earliest documented artifacts related to the Bible, to the most recent ongoing research efforts being managed by some of the world’s leading Bibilical experts.
You’ll see a representation of the Qumran Cave where the Great Isaiah Scroll, one of seven Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered in 1947. There is a full-scale replica of the Isaiah Scroll, but more significant in another portion of the exhibit is a section of the original Dead Sea Scroll with its references to Genesis.
In Jerome’s Cave meet St. Jerome and ask him questions about the work he undertook in translating the Bible into Latin.
The earliest versions of the Bible were written on scrolls, transcribed by hand. But the book was made more widely available following development of the Gutenberg printing press. This innovation made it possible to more easily make copies of the Bible. In the “Passages” exhibit you will see a replica of the Gutenberg press, may be able to see a page from the Bible printed with that replica, and you can see a copy of the entire book of Romans that is from a first-edition Gutenberg Bible.
This large exhibit is a portion of the extensive private collection of Biblical artifacts that are part of the Green Collection. Steve Green explained the significant artifacts included in the display at an event I attended last week. He has spent the past four years accumulating the collection, making it one of the largest collections of its kind. He wishes to share the artifacts with the general public and thus created “Passages.” An earlier exhibit created from his collection was displayed at the Vatican in Rome, and “Passages” itself first was on public display in Oklahoma City.
This multi-media experience will be on display in Colorado Springs for the next several months, so there is time this summer and fall for you to visit the exhibit. Other significant items in Green’s collection include the earliest-known, near-complete translation of the Psalms, some of the first printed Bibles in America, including the only Bible translation the U.S. Congress ever endorsed, and Bibles that once belonged to such celebrities as former U.S. Presidents, Johnny Cash, and Babe Ruth.
Although “Passages” earlier showed in Oklahoma City, the exhibit now in place in Colorado Springs, is much larger, and includes several new items. There is a new area for children, which includes a kid-sized Noah’s Ark, puppet playhouse and other hands-on activities. The Lunar room gives you an experience that replicates walking on the moon, and there you can see a digital Bible which was carried to the moon on NASA’s Apollo 14 space flight. This particular Bible was actually taken on Apollo 13, but of course that space flight developed problems and was returned to Earth without reaching the Moon.
Another new exhibit takes you the era of the Civil War and the story of how Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” after visiting a Civil War battle camp. She and President Abraham Lincoln tell the story of this iconic American song and reveal it’s connections to the Bible in an exhibit where the characters appear in life-size imagery. A copy of Howe’s original pencil-written draft of the song also is on display.
“Passages” is at 3979 Palmer Park Boulevard in Colorado Springs until Feb. 1. For more information visit www.ExplorePassages.com. ❖