Thursday, March 6, 2014

Verbum Domini II—God’s Word Goes Out to the Nations

On several occasions Jesus of Nazareth, the Teacher, sent his friends and disciples to carry to others the Message of the Kingdom. Sometimes on foot, sent out in pairs, from the rooftops, using all sorts of media. And in those gatherings they reminded others of the deeds and miracles they had witnessed. Such as on the occasion in which the multitude was hungry, where Jesus multiplied the fish and bread. And then he told them to gather up the left-over food. This would serve them well later, as well as to remember the miracle. Everything, even that which appeared to be insignificant, was important.

Years went by. They continued to remember, but these were later generations. The living memory was written down. Those documents were preserved, those pieces of cloth, parchment, bits of ceramic which on one occasion was found stamped with the memory of Yahve’s presence, Jesus, of the Chosen People. Many of those scripts were passed down from generation to generation. Some outlived the Roman invasions, the Temple’s destruction, the debacle of a village. Yet, although they were simple pieces, with no apparent value, for the believers they contained fragments of the living Word of the Lord. And they needed to care for them like great treasure.

Centuries have now passed. But those remains, those ceramic bits, those manuscripts have been preserved. And a family of believers in the Lord Jesus, in a God who is our Father, have dedicated their energies for years to gather those lost texts, those objects that, at one time, were used in the community to make known, to praise, and to learn about the Lord.

The Green family, who for years have dedicated themselves to gather those fragments, like the apostles who gathered the left-overs of the multiplied bread, those texts, those ceramic bits and writings, they wanted everyone to see. Those objects will be a part of a Museum, the Museum of the Bible, so that others can appreciate and study them, and be available to serve all. There will be room in this institution for biblical objects proceeding from diverse traditions of faith based on the Bible. From the respected and age-old tradition of Judaism to the diverse groups of the Christian faith such as the Reformed tradition, as well as Catholic and Orthodox.

While that Museum opens its doors there will be an exposition of some of the backgrounds which, in the future, will be incorporated in permanent, as well as temporary, expositions in the Museum.

This exposition will take place in Vatican City, near Peter’s tomb, who was one of the twelve followers of Jesus. Between April 1 and June 22 we will have the opportunity to contemplate these treasures of the Green Collection together with other artefacts on loan, the property of cultural and ecclesiastic institutions such as the Vatican Library and Museum. Among the hundreds of objects to be exhibited we underscore ten, considered the TOP TEN:
  1. Three fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls, the oldest known texts of the Hebrew Scriptures. 
  2. A double page of the “Codex Vaticanus”, one of the four uncial codices, that is, the oldest complete manuscripts of the Greek Bible, from around the years 325 to 350 A.D. This is a loan from the Vatican Library, in Vatican City. 
  3. Five pages of the Bodner Codex of the Psalms, which contains the nearly complete Book of Psalms in Greek. Written on papyrus and dated from the Third and Fourth Centuries A.D. 
  4. Pages of the Rescriptus Climaci Codex, a manuscript in palimpsest, which contains the text of the Bible in Greek from the Eighth Century and texts of the Sixth Century in Christian-Palestinian Aramaic, a language similar to the Aramaic that Jesus spoke. 
  5. A copy of the complete Bible of Tours, the oldest known copy of this Bible edited and published by Alcuino of York in the Ninth Century in the Abbey of San Martin in Tours, France. A work on loan, which is the property of the Library of the Abbey of Saint Gall in Switzerland. 
  6. The “Bath Old English Gospels”, a copy of the only complete translation of the Gospels in ancient English, done in the Ninth Century and, for the first time in history, is presented in an exhibition outside of Britain. On loan from the Parker Library of Corpus Christi College, which is part of the University of Cambridge. 
  7. A fragment never before presented of the first commentaries in Hebrew on the Pentateuch prepared by Rabi Sa´adia Gaon and dated in the Eleventh Century, discovered in Geniza of the Sinagogue of Ben Ezra in El Cairo, Egypt. 
  8. The “Book of Hours and Psalter” of Elizabeth of Bohun, countess of Northampton, edited in the Fourteenth Century and one of the most extensively decorated manuscripts that exist in its class. 
  9. A sample of the first edition of the King James Bible - the great “HE” Biblia of 1611- the most influential translation of the Bible ever produced in the English language. 
  10. One of the three Rolls of the Torah from the Jewish community of Kaifeng, in China. On loan from the Bridwell Library Special Collections, of the Perkins Theological Seminary, annex of the Southern Metodist University.

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