Ink and Blood logo. Ink&Blood.

A Brief Review of the Exhibit

By Ferrell Jenkins

Ink & 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.

Knowing 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.

Dr. 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 Isaiah.

Ink 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.

Impressing 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.

Having 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.

What's on display from the Old Testament?
1. 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 Genizah material.
2. Septuagint fragments of Leviticus and Exodus from the 3rd and 4th century A.D.
3. The few tiny, blackened fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
4. A large medieval Torah scroll.
5. 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.

4Q162_IsaPesher in Amman Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins,

Isaiah 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.

What's on display from the New Testament?
The 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 A.D.

P39 Oxyrhynchus Papyrii of  John 8:14-22.

This 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 for study.

This is a single fragment. The R stands for Recto (front), and the V stands for Verso (back).

The Latin Texts
There are examples of Latin texts from the Middle Ages, along with illuminated pages.

Armenian Bible
Having 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.

The First Printed Bible
The exhibit three pages of the Gutenberg Bible, and a replica of the fruit press adapted by Johan Gutenberg into a printing press about 1455 A.D.

Erasmus Greek and Latin Text
The 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.

German Bible
Martin Luther first translated the Bible into German in 1522. A copy his 1551 translation is displayed.

Luther Museum, Wittenberg, Germany, printing press. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins,
Luther 1522 New Testament at Luther Museum, Wittenberg, Germany. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins,

This is the press used to print works by Luther. Luther Museum at Wittenberg, Germany.

This is a copy of the 1522 Luther N.T. in the Luther Museum at Wittenberg, Germany.

English Bibles
In 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.

Important Greek Bible
Robert 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.

You 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 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.

At 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.

Special Lectures Open to the Public

I 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.

Photos 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.

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