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Experiencing “Passages” from The Book – for all seasons

By Patrick B. McGuigan
Executive Editor

After five months that brought thousands of people each week to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, the “Passages” biblical artifacts exhibit is passing on. Thanks to the Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby, this unique high-tech and old books exhibition made its world premiere here in the American heartland.

The exhibit resided here for a season, and will leave us after Sunday, Oct. 16. for a sojourn to Vatican City and then much of the rest of the world, beginning with London and New York City.

Words are inadequate to describe the uniqueness and depth of this remarkable collection of first edition and early edition Bibles, and ancient manuscripts from which those books were drawn. The news-making heart of the collection itself consists of the Green Collection’s eclectic yet purposeful holdings – early manuscripts of Genesis, a nearly-complete Aramaic language text, parts of a Gutenberg Bible (the first printed in the world, as opposed to hand copied), early editions of the King James Bible in English, the first English language Catholic translations and so forth.

All these original and authentic materials from and about the Good Book are presented in an entertaining and enlightening manner, including animatronic figures (my favorite was St. Jerome, translator of the Latin Vulgate that assured survival of cohesive Scriptural texts through the “Dark Ages” after the fall of Rome).

Also included are recorded presentations, including an enlivening debate from the days of Martin Luther and critics. One sign of scrupulous attentiveness to context is the exhibit’s inclusion of writings by Catholic hero Sir Thomas More, whose courageous defiance of King Henry VIII was memorialized in the classic play, “A Man for all Seasons.” For those of a scholarly inclination, a self-guided tour lasting several hours is available.

One day, it may return home, to reside in a museum the Green family plans to build to make the collection permanent.

What a blessing it was, and is, that this was the place where debut was made for the most comprehensive presentation in human history of the story behind The Book for All Seasons.

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