Sunday, December 10, 2006

Incredible Exhibit

Yesterday, JC and I went to Washington, DC, to get tickets for the sing-along Messiah at the Kennedy Center. We failed utterly; apparently people were camped out the night before to get them. I had no idea it was such a huge draw.

Not wanting to waste a perfectly lovely day in the city, we looked in the paper and found a few exhibits we wanted to see. One, at the Sackler Gallery, was just unbelievably cool. It was a collection of first-millenium Bibles (and Bible fragments), from the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Lindesfarne Gospels. It was amazing to see these ancient strips of papyrus, to think about people valuing the word of God so highly that they painstakingly hand-wrote it, over and over. The exhibit was nicely done, too, with informative text on the walls.

One thing that surprised me (pleasantly!) was that it was packed. They had us line up in an antechamber and set us into the exhibit two at a time, and it was still crowded. Lots of people, some whose conversation revealed them to be Greek scholars, others who had no idea that the Bible had ever been in anything but the King James English, pressed into these rooms to see these ancient books. Some, designed for churches, had lots of ornamentation and jeweled covers. Others, like the ones missionaries would have taken to various parts of the world, were small and plain, the only important bits being the words.

We saw a small girl there; she couldn't have been more than six years old. She was listening to the audio tour (an extra $5, and I don't usually like those, although later I wished I had gotten it, just to find out what else they had to say). She was completely absorbed in the exhibit, and wiggled her way to the front of each crowd of adults, clustered around the ancient books. At the end, her mother said, "It's time to leave now, Hannah," and she started to whine--the only time I had heard her utter a sound, though she had preceded us through the whole exhibit--"But I'm not done yet!"

We're thinking of taking our class to see it. I don't know if they can handle it, but the only way to find out is to try.

If you can get to DC in the near future, I highly recommend this exhibit. It's only running through January 7th though, so you'll have to move fast and look sharp. More info on the Sackler Gallery website.

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