Admittedly, I am not a big fan of the not-quite-year-old Museum of the Bible. After touring it a day before its official opening, I reviewed the much-anticipated museum for PJ Media and concluded that “the Museum of the Bible mishandles the Word of God.” Sadly, the Green family continues to waste a wonderful opportunity in the pursuit of religious pluralism.
In a piece published on Religion News Service, Yonat Shimron reports that the Museum of the Bible “is committed to: presenting an inclusive view of the Bible, communicated through cutting-edge technology that accurately represents the multitude of ways the Bible has affected civilization.”
To continue to present “an inclusive view of the Bible,” Shimron writes:
Two months ago, it quietly hired a director of exhibits — a Jewish woman who was recruited away from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where she was in charge of traveling exhibitions.
Neither a curator nor a Judaica expert, Rena Opert will work on strategic planning — scheduling temporary exhibitions and directing them from concept to completion.
I don’t have a problem with museums that show how the Tanakh has shaped and continues to shape Judaism. It’s just that sinking half a billion dollars into an endeavor about the Bible and deliberately avoiding and moving away from evangelical theology seems like an odd way for the Green family to spend their money. In my earlier review, I wrote:
The Museum of the Bible reduces the inspired word of God into nothing more than a cultural artifact, an oddity to be pawed over and dissected. While walking through the museum, I felt like my faith had been bought and sold on the open market, and then turned into a theme park.
Part of the problem is that the Museum of the Bible tries to appeal to everyone. The story of the Old Testament, mentioned above, is told from the theological viewpoint of Judaism. Which would be fine, I guess, if the museum wasn’t brought into existence by one of the most famous and outspoken evangelical families in the history of evangelicalism.
How can an evangelical sink money and energy into an exhibit about the Old Testament and not bring out how the entire story is pointing to Jesus?
For the record, I’m not the only one who is skeptical of the Museum of the Bible’s desire for religious pluralism. According to RNS:
Moss, a theology professor at the University of Birmingham in England, and Baden, a professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, suggested the museum is exploiting Jewish tradition by buying thousands of mostly decommissioned Torah scrolls, restoring them and then donating them to charitable institutions and reaping a huge tax write-off.
“I’m not impressed by who is hired or who is named,” said Baden. “I want to see what they’re actually saying and doing. It’s unclear to me that they have made changes or are even interested in making changes or even recognizing the problems that are relatively straightforward and require changes.”
To Moss, Baden and other scholars, such as Jill Hicks-Keeton of the University of Oklahoma, the museum presents Judaism as a steppingstone for Christianity rather than a religion in its own right; it laid the groundwork for the true and more complete faith — Christianity — to emerge.
Attempting religious pluralism (diversity) with something as important as the Bible is bound to end in disappointment for everyone who takes their respective faith seriously. Considered the public front for evangelicals by many, the Green family should make the Museum of the Bible more evangelical and not less.