& Blood is a good name for an exhibit about the Bible from
its earliest days until the present. The exhibit begins with some
clay tablets to illustrate the earliest examples of writing in pictograph
and cuneiform symbols. Our Bibles were written in alphabetic script.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament in
Greek. Not only has a lot of ink been used in the composition and
publication of the Bible, but blood has also been shed by those
who have participated in the activity.
that people would be asking me about the exhibit, and having the
opportunity to visit it as the guest of the producers, I was pleased
to attend a special viewing. The organizer, Dr. William Noah, is
a medical doctor from Middle Tennessee. He developed an interest
in questions about Bible transmission while in college. This interest
has led him to begin a collection of manuscripts and Bibles. I don't
know how many of these he owns, but many of the items displayed
are marked as being "on loan" from someone.
Noah took a group of about 20 persons through the exhibit on opening
day and gave a personal explanation of the items. Having some knowledge
in this field I was impressed that he also had a generally good
knowledge of the history of the transmission of the Biblical text
from the earliest manuscripts to the modern versions. I thought
that he overstated a few things. When he came to the tiny fragments
of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with only a few letters on each, he said
that we really don't have any complete scrolls. It was probably
just an overstatement to emphasize that there are thousands of fragments
compared to the complete scrolls. There are complete scrolls of
and Blood has a troubled past but I only know what I read online
and in the press. The exhibit was shown in several cities under
the title Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book. After a break
up, Noah's exhibit continues to operate.
me with an exhibit like this is not an easy thing. I have made numerous
visits to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem where many of the
scrolls are displayed. I have seen the Sinaitic and Alexandrian
Manuscripts in the British Library, along with the multitude of
English Bibles. I saw a page of the Vatican Manuscript in the Vatican
Library. Once I held the John Rylands fragment of John in my hands.
Twice I have visited the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland.
In Mainz, Germany, I visited the Gutenberg Museum where complete
Gutenberg Bibles are on display. And the list goes on.
said that, I still think this is a good exhibit for most Bible students,
who have not had the opportunities I have had, to visit.
on display from the Old Testament?
Hebrew manuscript of the early chapters of Genesis from about 1100
A.D. The suggestion was made that this might be part of the Cairo
Septuagint fragments of Leviticus and Exodus from the 3rd and 4th
The few tiny, blackened fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
A large medieval Torah scroll.
The Marzeah Papyrus is said to belong to the 7th century B.C. and
to have script resembling the Moabite Stone. It is marked on the
web page and the Elohim papyrus because it contains the word Elohim,
the term used in the Hebrew Bible for God. Several Hebrew scholars
have called into question the authenticity of this scroll, and some
have said it does not contain the term Elohim, but a similar personal
name. I leave this for your own further study.
Pesher. This fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls is a sort
of commentary on the book of Isaiah. Several verses from Isaiah
5 are quoted in this Pesher. The fragment is displayed in
the Amman Jordan Archaeological Museum and is designated in
scholarly circles as 4Q162.
on display from the New Testament?
most significant piece of Greek material is a fragment from the
Oxyrhynchus Papyri, P39. This fragment in beautiful large uncial
letters is a portion of John 8:14-22. The general context is the
claim of Jesus teaching in the temple. He bears testimony regarding
his origin and destiny. This manuscript dates to the 3rd century
photo shows P39 from the Oxyrhynchus Papyrii. The seminary
that owned this, and a few others pieces, sold it recently
to raise funds for operation. We are fortunate that photos
of many of the manuscrips and papyrii are readily available
is a single fragment. The R stands for Recto (front), and
the V stands for Verso (back).
are examples of Latin texts from the Middle Ages, along with illuminated
traveled in Eastern Turkey and studied a little about the Armenian
Holocaust, I was delighted to see a leaf from an Armenian Bible
dating to 1000 A.D.
First Printed Bible
exhibit three pages of the Gutenberg Bible, and a replica of the
fruit press adapted by Johan Gutenberg into a printing press about
Greek and Latin Text
first printed Greek New Testament was published by Erasmus in 1516
A.D. Copies of the first and second editions in Latin and Greek
parallel columns are displayed.
Luther first translated the Bible into German in 1522. A copy his
1551 translation is displayed.
is the press used to print works by Luther. Luther Museum
at Wittenberg, Germany.
is a copy of the 1522 Luther N.T. in the Luther Museum at
this area we have some rich treasures. There is an edition of the
handwritten Wyclif (or Wycliffe) Bible from the early 15th century.
William Tyndale has rightly been called the father of the English
Bible. The first printed New Testament was published in 1525 and
can be seen in the British Library. The Ink and Blood exhibit shows
a 1536 edition. You will see first editions of the following Bibles:
Coverdale (1535); Matthews (1537); Great Bible (1539); Geneva (1560);
Bishops (1568); King James (1611); Aitken Bible (first bible printed
in America, 1782). They also have a 1631 edition of the King James
Version that has been dubbed "the wicked Bible" because of the printing
mistake in Exodus 20:14 commanding readers to commit adultery.
Estienne (Stephanus) published four editions of the Greek New Testament
beginning in 1546. The fourth edition (1551) is important because
it is the first New Testament to have the chapters divided into
verses. Ink and Blood has a copy on display.
can see Ink and Blood at the Florida International Museum in St.
Petersburg, Florida. Full information about dates, location, and
cost can be found on their webpage at http://floridamuseum.org.
The St. Pete Times has included some good photos with their
articles. See A
war of words and Exhibition
opens eyes to pages of Bible history. The Tampa Tribune has
an article called Heavenly
Treasures, but the photos that were in the paper are not shown.
you can find links to some wonderful information about the subjects
of Bible manuscripts and versions. Click on Scholarly, then Biblical
Criticism: Manuscripts & Translations. For a high quality image
of P39 go to this
site. For keyword in the search engine enter swasey.
Under title enter john.
Lectures Open to the Public
am scheduled to present two lectures under the titleFrom Ancient
Manuscripts to Modern Versions at the Citrus Park Church of
Christ in Tampa, January 22 and 29 at 5 p.m. each Sunday. Check
the church website
for details. The public is invited to attend.
© Ferrell Jenkins 2006 except for P39.
The photos may be used by others in teaching, but may not be used
commercially or on web sites without permission.