January 21, 2006

The Good and Bad of the "Ink and Blood" Exhibit

I see that William Noah's exhibit of bible history texts is still running, now in St. Petersberg, FL. When the exhibit was in Dallas, a church asked me to go with a group as a personal tour guide. I have three main comments regarding the exhibit.

  1. It is a nice, convenient collection of texts including Erasmus' 1516 edition edition and Luther's 1551 edition. It specializes on English versions (Wycliffe, Geneva, KJV, etc.).
  2. It is terribly sensationalistic and manifest destiny-ish. The narrative video they begin the tour with, along with the tour guide rhetoric and the displayed material, all tell the story from the perspective of how God ordained the bible to be translated into English, despite the evil efforts of the world (and the Roman Catholic church). It is as if God's work in the world was finished now that Americans have the bible in our native English [sic].
  3. If your main interest is in seeing a Qumran fragment, don't waste the gas money getting there. It has only just large enough of a thumb-fragment to justify using the sensationalistic "Dead Sea Scroll" buzzword in the exhibit title.
Ferrell Jenkins has a good survey of the exhibit , listing which texts are on display. Similar to him, I have been to manuscript exhibits across the US, Europe, and the Middle East. I've been blessed to see the British Museum texts, the Guttenberg exhibit in Germany, Luther and Erasmus texts around Wittenberg and elsewhere. I studied Erasmus' 1516 and 1519 editions in the Wolfenbüttel library. I have looked at texts in Cairo, Athens, and Jerusalem including the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit.

Even given my experience with superb exhibits and museums, my advice is still if it comes in your area, go see it, particularly if you have no plans to go to Europe. However, ignore all of their information. Ignore the video and the rhetoric.

1 comment:

R. Mansfield said...

I saw Ink & Blood while it was in Lexington, Kentucky. I, too, thought it was a bit sensationalistic at times and very anti-Catholic (although a little of that might be deserved from a historical perspective).

However, the most thrilling part to me was simply seeing some of the old Bibles, many of which I had read about, but had never been that close to before. I was constantly turning upside down trying to look at the bindings of the books to see what kind of shape they were in.

Anyone interested in this history of the English Bible will enjoy it. But as you said, ignore some of the rhetoric.