Museum of the Bible


When the Green family—best known as the Hobby Lobby owners who went to the Supreme Court to win their right not to offer abortifacient coverage to employees—decided to open a Museum of the Bible just off the National Mall in Washington, D.C., many observers worried the result would be soaked in an evangelical or even literalist understanding of Christianity.

Thankfully, that's not the case. The exhibits, which explore the content, history, and impact of "the most widely published book ever," have earned grudging accolades from some critics for acknowledging uncomfortable truths, such as how the texts were long used to justify slavery.

Indeed, the museum takes an expansive and largely nonsectarian view of its subject matter. "Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all recognize a common history," one sign reads. The day I visited, a rabbi was on hand to demonstrate his work as a Torah scribe.

An array of timeworn Bible specimens are also displayed, representing faith traditions from Samaritan and Catholic to Coptic and Romanian Orthodox. The grandest space, however, is reserved for the King James Version.

The founders are Protestants, after all.