The Museum of the Bible and the Binary Error

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22 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Many people with political axes to grind “reinterpret” the US Constitution to mean whatever they want. For millennia now, heretical sects led by Jews have done likewise with our Written and Oral Torah.

    In the same vein, the Christian religion has attempted to appropriate Tanach while distorting or negating much of its actual content. Even if the result is morally better than paganism and more conducive to a properly ordered general society, no one should confuse it with the genuine article. The sooner all B’nai Noach reject lies, the better.

  2. dr. bill says:

    Bob, we can celebrate the universal impact of the Hebrew Bible or marvel at the particular impact of the Jewish Bible; it is more nuanced if you want to “tantz bah beidah chasunahs.”

  3. mb says:

    Bob Miller said “The sooner all B’nai Noach reject lies, the better.”
    And that’s what they say about us. A pointless exercise.

    • Bob Miller says:

      We have rejected lies, and they will, too, in the future. There is an objective reality.

      • Mycroft says:

        We have irked emunah . They can’t be proven . If ikreinemunah could be proven it would be science not faith.

        • Bob Miller says:

          Emunah itself will spread in due course. We need to set the example as in the past. Emunah links us to the type of objective truth that can’t be proven to mortals through scientific investigation alone.

  4. This is a wonderful development. But I believe the source of moral decay in this country has a far greater influence on American culture. That source being Hollywood. The world loves what Hollywood gives us. But they give us more than entertainment. In subtle (and in some cases not so subtle) ways they project the very values that are eroding societal respect for biblical values. I believe that is one reason for the near sudden change of the American heart about something like gay marriage. What is needed is a counter to that influence of similar influence. I only wish I could think of a way to achieve that. MOTB seems like a good start though. Kol HaKavod for your participation in it.

  5. Weaver says:

    Some Christians are recognizing the value of Orthodox Jewry in particular, and are even looking to them for inspiration to thrive in an increasingly post-Christian West. From Rod Dreher:

    “I don’t think most Christians have anything quite like the social occasion of the bar/bat mitzvah, but still, reading this short account of how this ultra-Orthodox Jewish community celebrates its faith communally, I find myself inspired, and wondering, “What if our church communities approached our faith in that spirit. That is, if parents were fully engaged with the faith, if families observed the laws and traditions at home, if churches were fully welcoming to inquirers, and families welcomed these visitors into their homes on feast days. And religious milestones were treated with the dignity — and indeed the sanctity — appropriate to them, not co-opted by the usual consumerist garbage . . . The Orthodox, in all forms (including the Modern Orthodox, who aren’t the black-hat types), are marrying within the faith, having lots more kids than non-Orthodox Jews, and actually living out their faith in community. They’re going to make it. The others have much longer odds . . . Orthodox Judaism, in all its forms, is what the Benedict Option looks like among Jews.”


    Incidentally, the increased visibility/recognition of Orthodox Jews, though not without its challenges, can also act as a valuable counterweight to the liberal (often obnoxiously so) Jews active in popular culture.

  6. David F says:

    I would absolutely love to visit the MOTB and it’ll definitely be on my itinerary for my next trip to DC. This is very welcome news indeed.

  7. Marc Hess says:

    Salutes to you, Rabbi Alderstein and to Rabbi Weil and the OU, for leading on this important effort. Marc Hess

  8. Allan Pincus says:

    Your article fails to mention the driving force behind this Museum-the Green Family. Please refer to the work “Bible Nation” by Joel Baden and Candida Moss, which provides a different perspective on the impartiality of the Green Family and their political agenda in promoting their particular brand of Evangelism via, among other things, the MOTB.

  9. Lara Gedzelman says:

    Although until Moshiach’s arrival (may it be soon) we are still dependent on the nations of the world and can’t have “too many friends”, I am still bemused and wonder how much we can still rely on such friends. That said, for the sake of the general population, whatever their persuasion, reminders of the debt society owes to “the Bible” must have value.

    However, for our community, one of the truly sad things is that we don’t have enough philanthropy to support a proper construction and inauguration of Rabbi Deutch’s Living Torah Museum in Brooklyn. Rabbi Deutch has collected a world-class collection of artifacts that support and clarify the Torah perspective on Biblical and post-Biblical Jewish history. In his cramped space in Boro Park, he creates curated tours through Bais Rishon, Bais Shaini, Mishnaic, and Gaonic periods and beyond.

    With the proper financial support (preferably including a spacious building in Jerusalem), he has enough artifacts to create a museum that would rival the Bible Lands Museum — all reflecting a Torah perspective that brings our true history alive. In a time when so many within the frum world struggle to stay inspired, an intelligent awareness of Jewish history is a profound support to our other efforts.

    It’s a pity that we manage to have enough money to build lavish developments throughout Jerusalem, but not enough to properly support an institution that could inspire us all, young and old alike.

    • I will second the motion. The time I spent at the Living Torah Museum was the single most memorable museum experience of my life!

    • Nachum says:

      Rabbi Deutsch’s museum, as he readily acknowledges, gets all of its artifacts from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the same place the MOTB gets much of its stuff from. The IAA has so much there’s no room to display it all in Israel (much of the Israel Museum’s antiques collection is theirs, for example, and I imagine the Eretz Yisrael Museum gets a lot from them too), and so they’re happy to lend it out. In fact, the IAA, which is currently housed in the Israel Museum, is currently building a huge new headquarters right across the street which will function as a sort of museum as well.

      I’m troubled by your use of the words “true history.” The Bible Lands Museum (also next door) and the Israel Museum present our “true history.” It may not be from a perspective you appreciate, but that doesn’t make it less true.

      And both contain lots of references to Torah and halakhic concepts. Neither is a “minimalist” sort of place.

      • Lara Gedzelman says:

        During a short stint at Hebrew University in 1990, I studied under one Lucy Plitman, O”H, who I noticed was responsible for a film shown in the Museum of the Bais Rishon in the Old City. She was a bright and creative thinker in their Bible Criticism department and one of the fascinating aspects of getting to know her was discussing her many “theories” that she was working on, so that by publishing something original and new, she could merit tenure. When confronted by other facts from other “theories” that did not align with her newer theories, her response was, “Well, it’s just a theory!” I don’t believe that made her pull the plug on any of her views, but certainly shaped my views on academia.

        Since reconstructing ancient history is so much a function of the perspective of the one attempting the reconstruction, I am pointing out that as a Torah-observant Jew, when there is a conflict, I am giving the mesora the benefit of the doubt, not the particular academic who has crafted the narrative provided.

        Both museums you referenced are impressive institutions, but much of their commentary is not in line with Torah viewpoints. In my limited experience with Rabbi Deutch, I did not hear him overstep in his explanations into the realm of “theory”, but rather he showcased many items which bring to life a Torah view of history, which these other museums do not, and I think this is an important distinction.

        (However, I was unaware that any major part of his collection was loaned, so perhaps my enthusiasm to create a larger space for display is premature.)

  10. Raymond says:

    I delayed commenting on here for a couple of days, because I kept hoping that I would think of some positive angle to this, but honestly that moment of inspiration never came. I just can’t help but think of museums as places where society puts its dead things. For example, in that recent controversy here in America regarding those Robert E Lee statues, there were those who took a kind of middle position on the issue by saying that those statues should be removed from being displayed in very visible, public places in favor of putting them into museums. By taking such a position, they were hoping to solve that issue by essentially saying that Robert E Lee is no longer all that important to American society.

    Only a small percentage of the population goes to museums, and even then, it is to kind of give tacit approval to what they are seeing, without taking those things seriously enough to consider them to be a vital part of our everyday society. and it just seems to me that our Torah is so much more than some kind of quaint, holy relic to be objectively studied but not really taken seriously like it deserves to be. To my mind at least, there is no more important civilizing force, no more important document, period, than our Torah, and so it needs to be at least as prominent in our public discussions as are, for example, America’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

  11. DF says:

    In Lancaster, PA – right in the Bible Belt – there is a small, one-room museum called “the Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies.” I visited there recently. There are very few items actually from antiquity. However, there is a surprisingly large amount of replicas and miniatures (and as you know, in many museums of antiquity or paleontology you never see anything but replicas or models.) These items are extremely well-done, with painstaking detail, and in many cases look identical to more famous models I’ve seen in Israel or London. The individual who runs it has dedicated his life to this, and obviously has friends or resources beyond what you would expect from a small outpost in Lancaster. There are also many pictures he took personally from Tels or Biblical archeological sites, including sites in parts of the world not very hospitable to Jews. The museum proceeds from the time of the Patriarchs through the period of the Christian Bible. There are also separate rooms dedicated exclusively to each of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (These areas are interesting, but probably basic to readers of this website.) I surprised myself with how much I learned, and how many items I clarified that had hitherto been foggy.

    For those interested in the Bible and the Biblical period, it is most definitely worth a visit.

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    This nuseum is a welcome addition to the secular public arena . Just curious-are there any parts of the museum that deal with TSBP and Parshanut?

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    Those who have the chance should go to the Jewish Childrens Crown Heights with their children and granchildren.

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