Faculty and Students Explore Original Biblical Artifacts

by University Relations

Face to face with the rare texts they had been studying and the artifacts they had only read about, Azusa Pacific students gained an extraordinary scholarly opportunity when they explored the Passages exhibit on March 19. David Weeks, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College, teamed with Robert R. Duke, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Theology and professor in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, to immerse students in the rich context of biblical history at this groundbreaking event, knowing that the firsthand experience would add depth and meaning to the young scholars’ education. Nearly 40 Honors College students and 15 from the School of Theology’s Center for Vocational Ministry made the trip to Santa Clarita to witness the Museum of the Bible’s traveling exhibit during its Southern California appearance.

Spanning 30,000 square feet and containing more than 400 priceless artifacts, the exhibit featured treasures from Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox faiths, chronicling the history of the Bible from its transmission and translation to its impact and controversies. Within these four sections, individual rooms designed to engage visitors in an authentic visual experience offered a unique glimpse into ancient eras. From a walk through the caves of Qumran where a shepherd boy stumbled upon the Dead Sea Scrolls, to “Gutenberg’s Press Shop” where visitors encountered a working replica of the original printing press, to the simulated surface of the moon and the actual microfiche Bible that traveled on the Apollo 14 mission, participants found themselves transported into other worlds and times.

For APU students, the day started with a brief lecture by Duke about the connection between APU and the Museum of the Bible, which began in 2012 when Duke began working with the Scholars Initiative. Steve Green, founder of the Museum of the Bible and president of Hobby Lobby, established one of the world’s largest collections of biblical artifacts, the Green Collection, and envisioned a place dedicated to a scholarly and engaging presentation of the Bible’s impact, history, and narrative. As those plans come to fruition in the form of a permanent 430,000-square-foot nonprofit museum in Washington, DC, slated to open in November 2017, Passages has traveled the country and the world as a sneak preview.

Duke, the western region director of the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative and distinguished scholar of Hebrew texts, touted the opportunity as an invaluable experience for these students, as it exposed them to primary sources of research and provided an amazing connection between history, literature, theology, and the humanities.

Originally published in the Summer '16 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.