The Museum of the Bible, Washington, D.C.

“I love bringing my kids here,” I heard from my Eritrean Uber driver, the first person I’ve met who admits to going.  The lavishly funded museum is indeed a world unto itself.  Here is what struck me on a recent visit:

1. The interior and the staff feel like nowhere else in D.C., like a cross between the Midwest and a Mormon temple perhaps.  There is much more wood paneling than one sees around town.

2. It is unabashedly the most universalistic and cosmopolitan interior in the area.  There is a large room with circular shelves, containing all the Bibles in different languages they could find.  Long columns list the languages of those Bibles, and a flashing sign indicates that 977,977 different Bible chapters would need to be translated before every chapter of the Bible is available in all of the world’s languages.

3. You can see plenty of old Bibles from the centuries, and while they are attractive, none are quite good enough for an art museum like say The Walters in Baltimore.

4. There is a station playing references to the Bible from popular music.  As I stopped by it was serving up “Four Horsemen” by The Clash, and then it segued into “Hard Headed Woman” by Elvis Presley.

5. Entrance costs $25.99, plus premia for special exhibits.

 

6. The museum bends over backwards to be non-denominational, that said the intended neutrality imposes biases of its own.  The big losers are the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, because this is indeed a museum about a book, not about a church community.  The connection between this book, and the communities it has spawned, is precisely the murky angle here and it seems almost deliberately obscured.  The Amish also are not prominent in the displays.  Imagine if people really just read and worshiped the book.  This truly is a museum about a book.

7. The museum tries not to refer to “the Christian Bible” or “the Hebrew Bible,” but that intended neutrality breaks down when you encounter the two sections for “the Old Testament” and “the New Testament.”  The Jews lose.

8. There is a section — entirely respectful — where a Jewish scribe writes out biblical text for viewers.  There is another exhibit of ancient Biblical life where you can walk among stone houses, read panels about biblical references to water, read about the Second Temple, and employees are paid to dress in (supposed) clothing from that period and say “Shalom” to you.

9. The museum is extraordinarily literal, and if you wanted to explain to space aliens what the Bible was, you could take them here.  That said, they would end up understanding the Bible far better than Christianity.

10. There is a very interesting section on bibles for slaves, and which sections of the original Bible they omitted.  On a wall display, visitors are asked to write out whether they consider these “slave bibles” to be proper Bibles or not.  Most say no.

11. There is a questionnaire, a bit like a Twitter quiz.  It first notes that Elizabeth Cady Stanton reinterpreted the Bible in the late 19th century, so as to make it more sympathetic to the rights of women.  It then asks the visitors whether reinterpretations of the Bible should be allowed today.  So far 61 percent have answered “no.”

12. The gift shop is lavish.  The museum restaurant Manna serves kosher food.  Here is the Wikipedia page for the museum.

13. The google headline for the museum has the subtitle “One of the Ten Best Museums in DC.”  It is odd they do not think it is the best.

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Tyler, One correction to your post: the museum is free to visit (other than special exhibits). There is a recommended donation but it is not required.

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I take that back -- you're right! that must be a recent change. Entrance used to be free.

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9. The Museum of Strange New Things

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It's odd they don't think it's the best museum? But isn't there something in the bible about not lying?

DC is full of truly world class museums, that being one of the reasons that New Yorkers give DC more respect than any other East Coast city.

Other reasons include the fact that it is also the capital of the United States, has some well known monuments, and that Rock Creek Park offers a certain charm before or after visiting the National Zoo that Central Park cannot match - assuming one is interested in something resembling a more natural setting to enjoy the day. 'The Rock Creek Park Act authorized the purchase of no more than 2,000 acres of land, extending north from Klingle Ford Bridge in the District of Columbia (approximately the northern limit of the National Zoo), to be "perpetually dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasure ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States". The Act also called for regulations to "provide for the preservation from injury or spoliation of all timber, animals, or curiosities within said park, and their retention in their natural condition, as nearly as possible".' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_Creek_Park

Though for a true New Yorker, such wild environs may not be all that attractive.

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The google headline for the museum has the subtitle 'One of the Ten Best Museums in DC.' It is odd they do not think it is the best."

It is written: "When you are bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest place; lest a more honorable man than you be bidden of him; And he that bade you and him come and say to you, Give this man your place; and you begin with shame to take the lowest place.

But when you are bidden, go and sit down in the lowest place; that when he that bade you come, he may say unto you, Friend, go up higher: then shall you have honor in the presence of them that sit at table with you. For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted."

+1 Good response.

Thanks.

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+1

Always one of my favorites. 2000 years ago, peoples' perception of a person who sucks all the oxygen out of a room wasn't too far from our modern one.

To be fair, though, it seems to be presented as almost contrarian advice in opposition to the Pharisees, who"enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi." People were probably getting tired of those guys.

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Ecclesiastes 1:9 New International Version (NIV)

9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.

Back at you and Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas and God bless His servant Jair!

Merry Christmas. He will. Evangelical Senator Mr. Malta said God has anointed President Captain Bolsonaro to defeat Marxism and free Brazil.

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Sounds to me like the Jews win. A separate section for the New Testament means they can visit the Bible museum and safely encounter only what they consider the Bible. (Also eat kosher food and see a sofer write a scroll.) If Jews decide to visit the other section they can think of it as the "Christian Bible Museum".

So it's like a Jewish Ghetto.

Which sounds like Jews lose, if one uses European history as a measuring stick.

Yes. Such is life in Trump's America.

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A ghetto? No. Jews were confined to ghettos, whereas they are free to roam the museum at will, or even leave it and go outside.

Seems like an important distinction to me.

It is not that simple. It is a cultural ghetto, a cultural ghetto their version of the Scripture has been relegated to, one may even say banished to.
And then I ask, "Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is?"

Nonsense. It's no more a "cultural ghetto" than a "Jewish Studies" or "Judaica" section in a bookstore.

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From Tyler's account, I get the impression the sponsors are the Zionist/Judeophile strain of Evangelicals. I have several family members who are caught up in it.

That is sad.

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The Museum of the Bible makes no sense: we don't have "the" bible (my comment is regarding the New Testament). Museum of the Bible Story, perhaps, but not the Museum of the Bible. The original New Testament was written in Greek. Unfortunately, we have only scraps of the original text. Sure, we have lots of copies, but they are copies of copies of copies of copies of copies. You get the idea. The first full English translation from Greek didn't occur until the 16th century, the so-called Tyndale Bible, named for its author William Tyndale. Tyndale's translation was condemned by the Church, and copies were seized and burned. Even Thomas More described the translation as heretical and its author a heretic. For his offense against God and the Church, Tyndale was burned at the stake. Of course, the most famous English version of the Bible is the King James Version. New Testament scholars have indicated that around 90% of the King James Version is based on Tyndale's work. Now you know the Bible Story.

For a more recent Bible Story, read this account of Apollo 8 (today is the 50th anniversary of the launch): https://www.washingtonpost.com/history/2018/12/20/apollo-nasas-first-moonshot-was-bold-terrifying-improvisation/ Having read the story, I now know where the term "moonshot" came from.

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I suspect that Cowen decided to visit the Museum of the Bible after dear leader's erratic behavior yesterday. Prayer may be our only salvation.

"Drumpf and his ...

[squints]

...withdrawal of 2,000 troops from opaque, foreign, inter-tribal conflicts!"

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Actually we have more extant text of the bible than any other writing from that period or before. We have several fully extant copies from within 300 AD. We have extant copies in multiple languages, that were under different polities, and in areas where Christianity was not the dominant religion.

Of the literally thousands of surviving texts, they are in complete agreement over 90% of the time. The majority of differences are in word order that would be identically translated into English (or some other language).

In comparison, Pliny's Natural History has about 200 copies with more variation between any two texts, less material in the oldest copies, and a smaller geographic and temporal distribution.

The biblical text is by far the most consistent and extant ancient document known to history.

'Actually we have more extant text of the bible than any other writing from that period or before'

Nope - the Epic Of Gilgamesh has by far a better claim, at least in terms of a comparison to the Old Testament. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epic_of_Gilgamesh

'The biblical text is by far the most consistent and extant ancient document known to history.'

Please - we have much better copies of various Greek works. Euclid made a bit of a splash with Elements, to give one example three centuries before the date of the birth of Jesus, and Herodotus's History appeared four centuries before that event.

We lack even a single extant copy of Gilgamesh in the original language. Even with what we have, there are massive plot changes (e.g. Enkidu). So no Gilgamesh has fewer copies, they have more lacunae, and the text itself is less consistent.

The Elements had no surviving extant manuscripts older than the fifth century AD. The copy number is but a small fraction of those for the Bible.

The oldest surviving manuscripts of Histories are both less than 20 lines long. They both are further from their purported source date than basically all the Majority Text documents.

But maybe I'm wrong. Just copy me a link of the scholarly publication of a more extant and closer to purported source date manuscript. Should be easy if I am.

'We lack even a single extant copy of Gilgamesh in the original language.'

The same applies equally to the Bible, of course, a good century after the birth of Jesus. Unless you wish to argue that Greek was the language used by Jesus, his various followers, and Saul of Tarsus.

'The Elements had no surviving extant manuscripts older than the fifth century AD.'

Moving the goalposts again, as Euclid's mathematics are independently verifiable, and not reliant on the age of the document that survived. No one needs to have faith concerning that point.

'a link of the scholarly publication of a more extant and closer to purported source date manuscript'

Nobody cares about such things in general regarding the mosaic that is the Bible, apart from Christians. However, the oldest actual book (well, work - the oldest actual book in terms of what we consider a book comes possibly 1,500 or more years later, in Italy) seems to be the Instruction of Ptahhotep - a work you are likely familiar with.

We can play this game back and forth forever, particularly as new discoveries will continue to be made.

My point is not that the Bible's manuscripts are somehow "originals" that are completely immaculate. It is that we have more such manuscripts. They have fewer lacunae. They have less variation between copies. And they are dated closer to their claimed origin date.

If you wish to say that the Bible is too distant from its source time. That too many variations exists or there was too many much revision to the text ... then you are saying that all historical manuscripts are similarly flawed and unreliable.

You may certainly critique the Bible on the grounds of what the text contains, but in terms of manuscript quality, nothing comes close barring perhaps the Quran depending on how you want to look at things like the Sana'a palimpset and, of course, its origin date being 600 years closer to the modern era. The Bible has had remarkedly stable textual form spanning the globe for hundreds of years.

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Sure, we have more copies of the bible than any other book. But what else were scribes copying? Gone With the Wind? We have no copies of original text, but even if we did, they were written in Greek, a language that Jesus and His Disciples could neither read nor speak (they spoke Aramaic, but couldn't read it because they couldn't read). What we do know is that the New Testament was not written by eye witnesses, not even Paul's epistles: Paul never saw Jesus except in a vision several years after Jesus's death. Besides, scholars believe that only seven of Paul's epistles were written by Paul; the rest are forgeries.

Actually, there's textual evidence that Jesus *did* speak Greek, in his back-and-forth with Pilate. Of course, if you think the whole thing has been redacted and rearranged from the first, that won't convince you. Nor the claim by authors of the text that "we were witnesses of these things."

But this dispute has little to do with an excellent post of an off-the-beaten-track museum in the DC area! Thank you, Tyler!

Who transcribed the "back-and-forth" between Jesus and Pilate? It wasn't any of the Disciples because they ran away. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus says almost nothing to Pilate: "You have said so", in reply to Pilate's question whether Jesus is the King of the Jews, is about it.

Good point. Speaking as an interested atheist, I find Mark's gospel by far the best to read and think about. No nativity nonsense. And once you excise the forged stuff stuck on at the end by other hands, it ends with a lovely mystery about the missing corpse.

It's a pity we'll never know who wrote Mark, but there you are.

+1. I don't criticize other commenters because you never know when they may write words of wisdom.

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Per John 18, "another disciple" actually stayed with Jesus and went in with the high priest, normally thought to be the Apostle John himself by historical tradition. The conversation with Pilot follows after this statement of "going in" so we should expect John to be present.

"by historical tradition" i.e. extra-biblical? Just made up?

I'm quite prepared to believe that the High Priest wanted J executed and, not having that power himself, batted the case up to the higher court i.e. Pilate's. I also find it easy to believe that Pilate could find no compelling reason to overrule the lower court. I'm sceptical, though, about any report that claims to be a verbatim account of what was said.

There are multiple ellipitical references to a disciple throughout the Gospel of John. In chapter 21, the Gospel recounts "This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true."

In a nutshell, there is a gospel which claims to be an eyewitness account that repeatedly states that the eyewitness was present. This Gospel's text does not give itself a name. The name dates back at least to 200 AD and people said 'we think that unnamed author was John the Evangelist, let's call this the Gospel of John'.

If those scholars who date John's gospel to around 100 AD are right, then surely it's too late to be taken as an eye-witness account?

You mean no one ever thought of that before?

Nah, the events of John are estimated by those scholars to be reporting on events in ~AD 30. John the Evangelist is thought to have been as young as fifteen at the time.

Tradition holds that John the Evangelist died on Patmos at around 95 years of age. This holds with the earliest estimates of authorship for all the Johannine literature in the late first century.

If there were a foolproof armchair criticism of the Bible it would have been used by oh the pagans, the Muslims, or deists.

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This is the same text that includes a transcription of Jesus praying while everyone around him was asleep? The same one that includes a transcription of a conversation Jesus had alone with Satan? (We will ignore the parts that were supposed to be written by Moses after his own death, or other nonsensical New Testament chronologies.)

Sorry, but there are sufficient issues with the text to demonstrate that at minimum we can't assume it was written by first-hand accounts.

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It's very liky that Jesus and the Apostles spoke Greek, at least a basic version of the language. It was the lingua franca of the ancient Middle East and it had been for 300 years , since Alexander's conquests. YhecJewish diaspora even spoke it as a first language, hance the necessity of the Septuagint. Only Americans, secure in their monoglot fortress, tongue-tied in any language but English and outraged over "press two for Spanish" find the idea of common bilingualism impossible.

Not 'outraged'. Disgusted. Because manufacturing a bilingual society has been a wholly gratuitous project of public bureaucracies.

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If you think USA is a monoglot fortress try going to Brazil. There >95% of the population only speaks Brazilian portuguese, about 3-2% speaks some english or spanish and there is no "press 2 for english/spanish" anywhere.

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'the most famous English version of the Bible is the King James Version'

As a literary masterpiece, sure. However, it is has never really been a Bible version that Catholics consider a 'proper' Bible. 'The King James Version of the Bible, completed in 1611, sought to be a precise translation coupled with a majestic literary style. It should be noted, however, that the editors of the King James Version were instructed by King James I of England to make sure that the translation was in harmony with the theology of the Church of England. The King James Version was looked to as the standard English translation of the Bible for almost 400 years.' https://bustedhalo.com/ministry-resources/why-doesnt-the-catholic-church-recognize-the-king-james-version-of-the-bible

After all, for a few centuries, the King James Bible was implicitly on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum - http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/banned.htm

The Catholic Church preferred its Latin Bible. Why? Because the Church did not want the laity to have access to the Bible and, instead, would have to rely on the Church's interpretation. It was Luther and the Reformation that promoted access to the Bible by the laity, believing that there was but one interpretation of the Bible, the literal interpretation (sensus literalis). Of course, what's literal to you may not be literal to me; thus, there are as many literal interpretations of the Bible as there are interpreters. At least with the Catholic Church's approach, everyone was on the same page, so to speak.

'preferred'

That is truly not a correct choice of adjective.

verb

You are absolutely right - and preference would be only one of the noun forms.

It's the Second Law of Grammardynamics. Anyone trying to improve someone else's English is at great risk of making a blunder of his own.

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Well, "preferred" might not be adequate to express the consequences to those (including Tyndale) who deviated from the Church's mandates. There, are you satisfied with "mandate".

Well, the answer was yes, with a reference to current Catholic dogma regarding sins that lead one to be excommunicated, but it seems as if talking about the Catholic Church and canon law is beyond the pale (which apparently comes, at least according to someone a few years ago in Dublin, comes from Cromwell, and how he divided Ireland in those parts which had been blessed with Cromwell's enlightened attitudes towards religion and government, and those 'beyond the pale.')

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Utter nonsense. The Church used Latin because when the Church was founded that was the language of the vulgate (the elite Romans spoke Greek). The tradition got continued well past the point of absurdity, true, and later religious leaders defended this absurdity by pointing out that it prevented errors (there were a number of issues that arose from divergent interpretations, particularly with regard to the power of the priesthood), but that's a separate issue. The original intent was to use Latin so that any literate person could read the book, and so that everyone could understand what was said.

Note that throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance the groups "literate" and "able to read Latin" were almost identical. NO literature was written in local languages until the late Middle Ages, and Latin continued to be used for literature well into the Renaissance. For about a thousand years, having the Bible written in Latin meant that anyone able to read could read it.

"NO literature was written in local languages until the late Middle Ages": I think I once saw someone say that Welsh was an exception. I wonder whether he was right.

Some exceptions occurred, but they were few and far between, and never met wide reception. Latin was what you wrote in when you wanted what you wrote to be read outside your home town or county. Stuff was written in other languages, but literature, as we understand the term, was almost entirely limited to Latin.

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There were practical things written in local languages, and sometimes chronicles and even poetry. We have a decent corpus of Old English written works dating from before the Norman Conquest. However it is by and large true that anyone whose literary skills went beyond reading a recipe or a tax record was literate in Latin.

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"when the Church was founded ...": which church? Surely the early Christians would have spoken Aramaic or Greek, being people who lived in the Near East.

"which church?"

A fair question. I put the foundation of the Church (note the capital letter; I use this term for specific reasons) at its separation from the Jewish religion. Early Christians considered themselves a sect of the Jewish faith, and it wasn't until they split from the Jews that Christianity became a distinct religion. This quite fortuitously occurred at a time when Romans throughout the Empire were looking for a new type of religion, and Mystery Cults were in vogue, and well after Rome conquered Palestine (in fact, there are conversations between Jesus and Peter that only really make sense if one understands that hostilities had ended less than a generation prior to the events portrayed.)

Regardless, when the Church grew from a weird Jewish cult in Palestine to a religion that the Empire actually noticed, the vulgate was Latin. Writing the Bible in Latin ensured that the people--including the lowest members of society--understood what was being said, and that everyone who could read, could read the books of the Bible. It was an attempt, not to obfuscate the text, but to make it more widely available.

But surely The People in the richer half of the Empire spoke Greek, not Latin? Or do you mean that the vulgate was for the hicks in the backward half of the Empire, plus the mob in Rome?

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"it is has never really been a Bible version that Catholics consider a 'proper' Bible". On the other hand I don't consider Roman Catholics to be proper Christians. Too much paganism, cannibalism, idolatry, polytheism, and so on, and too little attention to the revelation on which Christianity is based.

'On the other hand I don't consider Roman Catholics to be proper Christians'

So who were the proper Christians before 1054? The Copts?

And considering your apparent disbelief in Christianity as based on things like various miracles and resurrection, do you feel in the least able to judge something like that?

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Given everyone else opted out, there are no true Christians left then?

Oh sure! History has shown--often in blood--that when someone says "true Christians" they mean "my preferred version of Christianity".

For my part, I view the Benedictine order as the truest version of Christianity. The Franciscans were perhaps closest to following in the footsteps of the Apostles, but the Benedictines had a different goal: to create Heaven on Earth, to bring the Kingdom into existence. They weren't Apostles and didn't pretend to be.

That's hardly an endorsement of Christianity--the Benedictine order, in its purest form, was a horrific, hellish prison that was admittedly designed to crush the individual and erase, as much as possible, individual personality from its members. It's the best Christianity has to offer, showing what that philosophy considers the ideal--the consistent practice of its tenants and principles--and it's pretty horrific. Franciscans are just as bad, elevating Freeganism into a holy order....

"the Benedictine order ... was a horrific, hellish prison.

Nope. St Benedict's rule (which is still followed by many monasteries today) is noted for its moderation and reasonableness. St Benedict was instrumental in eliminating extreme ascetic practices (e.g. mortifications of the flesh, flagellation, etc.) and also strictly limiting the number of hours devoted to each activity in the monastery.

"designed to crush the individual and erase, as much as possible, individual personality from its members"

Not due to Benedict. Self-denial and the purging of selfishness is a major part of Christianity (and indeed many other religions), some (e.g. Buddhism) emphasize it even more than Christianity.

"St Benedict's rule (which is still followed by many monasteries today) is noted for its moderation and reasonableness. "

I'm sorry, I must disagree. Others view it the way you describe; however, having read the Rule of St. Benedict, I personally, consider it to be a horrific, hellish, a soul-crushing existence. As an aside, there were numerous revolutions within the Benedictine order, most of which amount to "You've all gone soft, we're bringing this back to its roots." The Cluneic tradition in particular was viewed with disdain, as becoming too involved with worldly affairs and therefore (by necessity in that culture) abandoning some of the more rigorous aspects of the Order. In its ideal form, a Benedictine monastery would be a fairly horrible prison.

"Self-denial and the purging of selfishness is a major part of Christianity..."

Of course. As I said, the Benedictine Order is one of the most consistent applications of Christian principles; the destruction of the individual is inherent within the Christian religion, it's just that most people ignore that part. The monastic orders, being more consistent, embraced, rather than minimizing, those aspects. That it's a common theme among many religions makes it no less horrific to me.

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$26! We'll hope for discount days as the pricey Newseum sometimes has.

Come on, it is a BIble museum, not a church, relying on the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:28.

Besides, Prof. Cowen seems to think it is worth every penny (no idea if shekels would be accepted for admission).

Good points both.

The museum's "Admissions FAQ" says it just began charging admission. Advance adult tickets purchased online are $20, so there's a discount. The museum says it will have special discounts for those who cannot afford information, and that information will be posted on the website once a decision has been made.

FAQ: https://museumofthebible.org/MuseumAdmissionsFAQ

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"Prof. Cowen seems to think it is worth every penny (no idea if shekels would be accepted for admission)."

Of course he does! Hes a free lunch economist. Free lunch economists believe price defines value.

Thus the museums of the fake news are worth $25.99, while the Air and Space Museums, and other Smithsonian museums are worthless because their pricce is zero.

If we were in 1960, we would say the cost of the Smithsonian and all the knnowledge seeking they memorialize is worth it, with consumers of the exhibits, and users of the knowledge, gain a huge consumer surplus due to price of zero which is far below cost.

But the fake news museums memorialize stuff that costs a lot of money, and blood, far more thzan $25.99. What the $25.99 pays for is part the cost of the building and its workers, but still they lose money. Thus, the consumer surplus at $25.99 is potentially greater than to the Smithsonian for those who pay to go to the fake news museums.

Value is defined independent of price in the real world, but most economists today reject that idea.

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When it first opened there was a section on loan from the Israel museum that was easily the coolest thing there. Canaanite altars and Bar Kokhba letters, that sort of thing I wonder when the Israelis realized this wasn’t their style of museum.

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Merely presenting the Bible as one book is a bias. Until very recently, the Bible was more a collection of texts considered to be canon. You didn't buy a full Bible (unless you were the Pope, Holy Roman Emperor, or Byzantine Emperor, you couldn't afford it--until relatively recently a text that large would be worth as much as a modest-sized town). What you bought was individual books thereof, typically along with commentary.

That said, I like the idea of presenting a museum about the book, which limits reference to the religion. The book has an interesting history in and of itself. Not worth the price of admission in my opinion, but I know some folks (oddly enough, mostly non-Christians) who would happily pay that much to see its history.

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That price seems utterly insane. The Prado is 15 euros! The Uffizi is 16!

Went to the The Prado and Reina Sofia last year. While I haven't been to The Museum of The Bible I expect it would hold my interest for more than the 2 hours each the Art museums did.

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I’m still sad that the Museum of Menstruation never found a place on the Mall in DC:

https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2116

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I wonder if what was purposefully excluded is in the museum, perhaps as many as 200 other gospels were destroyed by the early church. Gospel of Thomas survived.

When I say "other gospels", I mean mostly variants on the big four.

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I guess you were able to hold your nose and look past the fact that the founder has trafficked in stolen artifacts.

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If "stolen artifacts", mattered, there would be few museums.

Stolen from whom? The present government or occupants whee buried artifacts are located are not really the owners, though they often assert such ownership. The owners are long dead and its mere abandoned property.

Just because you are the most recent invader does not give you any moral claim on something created 3000 years ago.

3000 years ago? But we are discussing the Bible, none of which is that old.

I was responding to:

"I guess you were able to hold your nose and look past the fact that the founder has trafficked in stolen artifacts."

The Hobby Lobby guy he is talking about "stole" Iraq artifacts. I am not sure if 3000 is accurate, might be 2200, might be more. It was just a throw away figure.

The Hebrew Bible was largely fixed about 2500 years ago so 3000 is not so far off.

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For the dull-witted, this is actually a discussion about this blog's religion, the religion of libertarianism. Are you a believer? Do you believe in the Book of Rand? Are you an eye witness?

Surely for the church of Rand, that would be an "I" witness....

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"It then asks the visitors whether reinterpretations of the Bible should be allowed today." Rather a totalitarian question, isn't it. Allowed by whom? Besides, the Bible is loaded with reinterpretations of its various parts. Why shouldn't any reader feel free to interpret or reinterpret it?

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What is meant by the rather snide phrase "the first person I've met who admits to going."? admits? Are you implying that people should be ashamed of going? that many people who do go are ashamed of doing so? I doubt that anyone whose world-view is trite enough to feel ashamed of going to this museum, would be open-minded enough to actually go. However, it sounds like this might be a good story for Claas Relotius of Der Spiegel--another opportunity to try to make fun of average Americans.

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