Steve Green, Chairman of the Board for the Museum of the Bible, discusses the immeasurable influence the Bible has had on society and the amazing biblical artifacts that are part of a huge collection that will soon go on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
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John Fuller: (Construction Noise) Right now, in Washington D.C., construction is being completed on the Museum of the Bible. Chairman of the Board, Steve Green describes a portion of that building to Focus on the Family president, Jim Daly.
Mr. Steve Green: Another neat piece on this particular floor is what we refer to as our "Fly Board."
Jim Daly: Oh, right, okay.
Steve: So, this is where we are flying people through. It's a ride where you're flying people through Washington, D.C., showing Scripture engraved on monuments and all over the city, again to show Scripture's all over it. It's hidden in plain sight.
Jim: Right, right. Yeah, hidden in plain sight.
End of Teaser
John: Well, catch a little bit more of Jim's tour later in this "Focus on the Family" broadcast. I'm John Fuller and Jim, you recently toured that museum to get a sneak peak at what's coming and it sounds pretty exciting.
Jim: I'll tell you what, this thing is gonna be remarkable. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Green family for having the vision to purchase this building just off of the Mall, right near the Smithsonian museums there in Washington, D.C. I think it's 4 or 500,000 square feet. It's right in that area. It is huge and they have done so many technical touches that kids of all ages are gonna be inspired about the Word of God. And it opens November 17th. I would encourage everybody to go. It's gonna be awesome.
John: And Focus on the Family is going to have a part in it.
Jim: We will. There are several major sections in the museum and one of them is dedicated to the Bible's influence on society and we'll be a part of the impact section, which will show how the Bible has impacted the family. And if you think about it, it has impacted the family significantly. Do you do family devotions? There's one example.
I interviewed Steve in Washington at the museum. It was probably halfway done, under construction and we had the hard hats on and the goggles and I looked over one part of the museum, all the way from the top floor to the bottom floor. It had a little cable protecting you from falling over, but it was like 120 feet to the ground. I'm thinkin' okay. This is not good. I don't like standin' here.
But it was amazing. They truly have done a wonderful job and all of us, as Christians particularly, we are going to be proud of what the Lord has done through the Greens and all the contributors to this museum. And that's why I'm so excited about it. This isn't an infomercial. This is going to be grand.
John: Well, and Steve Green has been collecting thousands of artifacts for the museum for a number of years. It's part of what's called The Green Collection. We should note [that] he's the president of Hobby Lobby. And with that, let's go right to the conversation that Jim Daly had with Steve Green on today's program.
Jim: Steve, welcome to "Focus on the Family."
Steve: I appreciate you having me, Jim.
Jim: It is great to be here and we're gonna get into the Museum of the Bible, but Life Magazine, in 2000, I think, listed a number of the greatest achievements, the most, you know, impactful people and things. It's really an interesting list. What's on it?
Steve: It is. The list came out in the year 2000. It was the impactful event of a millennium. Now, the title actually says "important events," but I think that "impactful" is a better term and I'll explain that in a minute.
But some of the items that were on that list were the germ theory being discovered, the Declaration of Independence, the Holocaust, Hitler coming to power. That's one that makes me think that "important" may not be as good a term as "impactful," because I don't know that I would say that was important.
Steve: But it impacted our world and so, those were some of the items that were top 10 on that list.
Jim: Gun powder.
Steve: Gun powder.
Jim: I mean, that was a big one.
Steve: Columbus discovering America.
Steve: So, these were things that had a huge impact for a millennium. They were the list; [it] listed 100, but those are some of the top 10. But No. 1 on that list was Guttenberg prints the Bible.
Steve: And it was interesting. It wasn't the Guttenberg Press; it was Guttenberg prints the Bible.
Jim: No. 1.
Steve: That changed our world, and I think that the average person on the street probably has no clue to the degree that, that event had an impact on their lives.
Jim: Steve, let me ask you, of course, the family, it's Hobby Lobby. Let me ask you the energy that you have as a family. You're chairing the development and the museum here. That's your role, but talk about your family and just your heart for Scripture. You guys love the word of God.
Steve: Well, we do. My parents both grew up in a Christian home. They grew up going to church and they were taught by their parents. So for generations it has been passed down to me and my family this love for God's Word.
My grandfather himself was a minister of the gospel. My dad, one of six kids, all of his siblings went into ministry in some form. And so, this has been a Book that has an impact on our life. My parents raised our family according to principles of this Book. Our business, if you look at the first statement of purpose on our website, it indicates that we operate our business according to biblical principles. And then we are also blessed to be in a nation that has been built on concepts that our Founders found in this Book.
Steve: And so, our family has been blessed by this book and that is part of the motivation. We want to share this Book with as many people as we can.
Jim: I think it's great, and it is the foundation for our lives, right--
Steve: It is.
Jim: --as believers, particularly, but for the world at large. When you walk the streets of Washington, D.C. and I've done that with my family, with Jean and the boys, I am always amazed at how much there is a reference etched in the stone of the memorials here related to Scripture. You know them by heart now that you're right here in the city. What are some of those examples of those Scriptures that are here right on stone here in Washington, D.C.?
Steve: Well, we were just doing a tour a couple nights ago of the Rotunda of the Capitol, and there's [sic] eight large paintings in there, and four of those paintings are directly related to scriptural events. There's a baptism. There [are] those coming on the Mayflower, showing a Bible in their hand at their almost a Bible study, you could say.
And so, the reference to Scripture in the Capitol itself is everywhere. So, whether it be in the Library of Congress, or on the capstone of the Washington Monument, Scripture is everywhere throughout this city and it's exciting when you start seeing that, to realize the impact this book has had on the founding of this nation.
Jim: Well, and the Bible did play a significant role with the Founding Fathers, framing things, the separation of power, the idea that these rights come from God, not from man. That's something we need to remember in this country, isn't it?
Steve: Yeah, the idea that all men are created equal, right there are two biblical concepts. The idea that we're created is a biblical concept and the idea that we're created equal. Where did our Founders get that? They got that because they had a biblical worldview.
And the Bible is what impacted much of the foundation of the forming of this nation. That concept, our freedoms, our economic design as you mentioned, the separation of powers. Why was there a separation of powers? Because they understood the propensity of man for evil.
Jim: They knew our hearts.
Steve: They knew our hearts (Laughter) and knew that we had to balance that.
Steve: So, it is a biblical concept, and it was a biblical worldview that was foundational to the forming of this nation. If we do it well, if we do it right, we are interested in just teaching the facts of this Book. We were not striving to espouse a faith. We just want to say, you ought to know the facts of this Book. For us to be ignorant of this Book is to be ignorant of the foundational principles of our nation. That I think, is a disservice to the kids of our nation for them not to understand that that's where our Founders got the concept that this country was built upon.
So, the goal that we are pursuing is to build a curriculum for the public schools that is not espousing the faith. It just presents the facts of this Book so that a person, whatever they want to think about this Book, they can at least have a[n] opinion based on facts, versus just what they may hear in the culture.
Jim: That is so good. I can remember being in college and I was wobbling. I wasn't quite sure. I didn't understand what was fact and what was fiction. And I can remember digging into looking at the number of manuscripts that existed for the Bible. There's nothing close of ancient literature.
Jim: I mean, the Bible is the No. 1 most reliable book of antiquity. I think Homer was the second, if I remember my thinking in my philosophy class in college. But it wasn't even close. It was something like written 600 years after Homer, and there were only 60 manuscripts. The Bible, it's written by eyewitnesses, and it's, I think, 24,000 manuscripts or more. And you've obtained some of those manuscripts. Talk about the artifacts that people will see when they walk the halls of this gigantic museum, the Museum of the Bible.
Steve: We have a variety of artifacts that we have been able to collect. For example, we have what's called P39. It is the oldest portion of a particular passage in the book of John that is known. It was part of the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus Dump andwe have some fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
And then, of course, even into the printing area, like 1611 King James Versions of the Bible that we'll have on display, to Geneva Bibles and other biblical artifacts that we will have—be able to put on display and hopefully, will help tell the story of this Book in a very engaging and an exciting way.
John: Jim Daly, talking with Steve Green on today's "Focus on the Family." They were at the Museum of the Bible, which is under construction in Washington, D.C. and let's go ahead and hear a brief moment from their tour of the building together.
End of Program Note
Steve: Now the theater has a unique element and that is what called "mapping." The walls are a projection screen for us. We will have 14 projectors around the room that actually project onto the walls, so that you are not just watching a stage event. You are engulfed in it, because all the walls are projection screens.
Jim: Oh, man.
Steve: So imagine a stage production on the stage. We're gonna open with Amazing Grace, the Broadway production of John Newton's Story.
Steve: You can see the slave ship up on the stage, but here we can put you inside the slave ship—
Jim: You'll be in it.
Steve: --and make it live, make it animated.
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Jim: Steve, some of our listeners probably remember Passages. We had that in Colorado Springs. You were showing some of those artifacts in cities around the country, and I believe, in countries around the world. Speak to that. How did people respond to that traveling museum, as you began to roll out this concept?
Steve: What happened was, as we started our collection, and as it was growing, we had this vision and dream of a museum, but we had no idea where or when it would open. So, the idea came up that well, why don't we build out a traveling exhibit so we can start telling the story that the artifacts that we have sittin' in our closet tell? We bought 'em, not because we were collectors (Laughter), we wanted to tell its story.
Jim: It's just funny thinking of Dead Sea Scroll artifacts sitting in the closet. (Laughter) I mean, it's like, wow! What?! (Laughing)
Steve: And that's what we were thinkin'. We've got to start telling this story. And so, that's where the idea of the traveling exhibit came up. We opened up the first one in Oklahoma City and it went to six cities around the country during its tenure. We closed it down for the last time early last year in 2016, as we were focusing on the museum here in D.C. That exhibit opened the opportunity for us to do some international exhibits.
So, we've been to the Vatican, Cuba. We were in Jerusalem. We've been to Germany, Argentina. We've done a variety of universities around the country with smaller exhibits, so, we are able to do some exhibits around the country and around the world to tell this Book's story. And there [are] others that are in the works.
Jim: When school children come to the museum, you mentioned the curriculum lightly, but I want to come back to that, because I think that's profound, to create a curriculum that reintroduces the Bible to students who can learn about its importance in culture. How is that teenager, if I bring my 16- and 14-year-old, what kind of experience are they gonna have here at the museum?
Steve: And what we want to do is, is we understand there are certain lines that we don't cross. I kinda refer to 'em as our fence posts. We are not here to espouse a faith. An example I will use is, the Bible says, "In the beginning God created." But, it also is honest with us, and it tells us in Hebrews 11, that we understand that by faith. That is a faith proposition.
Now, I should be able to say the Bible story is that "In the beginning, God created." That's part of the Bible story. But I can't cross the line. The museum's role is not to cross the line to say, "When God created," because now I am making a statement of faith as fact and that's not our role. We're not striving to espouse it. We're just wanting to present the facts.
The facts are, the Bible says, In the beginning God created." And so, if we do well not crossing that line, then hopefully, it is very inviting to even the atheist. I have said, I want to be respectful of the atheist, that they don't feel like I'm trying to push my faith on them, but I am being a fair arbitrator of truth.
[These are] the facts of this book, you do with it what you will, but we just want you to know the facts.
And that's the same thing we look at with our curriculum that we're developing for the schools. I don't want my child going to a public school being proselytized by some other faith. So, I can't do that either. I just want to educate people on the facts of this book, and we do it in three ways. Its history. its impact, and its narrative. And if we stick to the facts, we should be able to go into the school and teach kids on the facts and let them make the decision on what they do with it.
Jim: Sure and to be exposed to it, that's what's so brilliant and that's what, of course, what happened for decades, centuries in this country before it was I think, socially unacceptable.
Jim: Maybe not even legally unacceptable, although many are kowtowed in that way. But again, hats off to you for simply saying, come, let's reason together. I mean, that's what I hear you saying. Let's look at the facts.
Steve: Let's just look at the facts, exactly.
Jim: I like that.
Jim: You mentioned Israel and the tour going to Israel. Something unique took place there in Israel when you were there. What happened?
Steve: Well, while we were working on our curriculum, we were developing the curriculum for the public schools here in the U.S. and while we were in that process, we had a mayor in Israel that called and said he wanted the curriculum in their schools. And we were kind of surprised. That's not something that was on our radar.
So, we go and we check into it and we find out that the mayor's serious. We are adding an augmented reality element to the curriculum that makes it extremely engaging for a child. And that company is in Israel, and the mayor of the city was in that company's offices, saw the augmented reality and immediately knew our kids would love this.
And so, we found out that he was serious. We go over there, and the following year, which was two years ago , we had 1,500 students going through the curriculum in the public school of the city of Ramat Gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv in Israel.
And the following year it had gone so well, that we had 6,000 students going through it in a couple of different cities. This year we have 100,000 students going through the curriculum in Israel. And it's just an example of how that I get the sense, over and over, that God is up to something. We just get to be a part of it. That was not even on the radar, but we just felt like God said, "I want you to take it to My kids over here in Israel first, and then we'll talk." And it was like, to the Jew first. And I said, "Yeah, that sounds like the way You would want us to do it.
Jim: Right out of Scripture.
Jim: That's funny, but what an impact--over 100,000 students in Israel.
Jim: I've gotta tell you though, maybe it's my age. What is "augmented reality?" (Laughing)
Steve: Augmented reality is you take a tablet. You could take your iPhone or a tablet and you open up an app which brings up the camera. You take the camera over the curriculum. And there may be a picture of the temple in the curriculum.
Steve: But when you look through the camera, there's a play button on the picture that's not there on the textbook.
Jim: Oh, okay, so it'll explain more.
Steve: And you push that play button and now we are flying you through the temple, as opposed to just a picture, we could actually have you go through that temple.
Jim: Oh, my goodness.
John: This is "Focus on the Family" and we'll listen now to another portion of Jim and Steve's tour of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
End of Program Note
Steve: So this is the opening lobby where you have three options—New Testament Theater, Nazareth Jesus Knew and the Old Testament Walk-Through. The Old Testament Walk-Through, again, you go.
Steve: It's the only timed walk-through of the museum. You go to a room, you hear that story and then as a group, you go to the next room. Starts with a prologue, Woe and Chaos, Noah's called. So you kind of have a walking through the Old Testament story, room by room as a group.
Jim: Oh, yeah, okay.
Steve: Those are some renderings of it, Moses, the Passover, you know, walking through the Red Sea, Ten Commandments.
Jim: That's good, yeah.
Steve: And then that is the New Testament theater in here, which is a 270-degree screen, where we're telling the New Testament story in 14 minutes.
Jim: Right, oh wow.
Steve: And then this is the Nazareth Jesus Knew, which is the one that's probably the furthest along.
Jim: I love the detail. I mean, you guys have really [done well].
Steve: Yeah, yeah. It needs to be done well. That's what makes it. So, amphitheater there that you can kinda get to get a set the stage and kinda the intro into it.
Steve: And then we want you to feel like you're walking into Nazareth. The walls will be painted with forced perspective, where it looks like you're in Nazareth, a synagogue, a typical home.
Jim: Okay. This is gonna be spectacular. I had no idea. This is so much more than I thought.
Steve: Yeah, yeah.
Jim: I mean, seriously.
Steve: Well, and that's where you almost have to get the tour to really kinda get your arms around it.
Jim: Yeah. Oh!
End of Clip
Jim: The museum will also have some American artifacts and I'm curious about those, because one of the things when I travel globally, my friends overseas will say, "America, you're so young. You're only 230-years-old. You know, most of our buildings are double that age.
Jim: They do like to chide us for how youthful America is on the world scene. What artifacts do you have that are from North America?
Steve: Yeah, well, there is a whole section on our impact floor that is discussing and showing how the Bible has an impact on this nation. We have the very first artifact that was in the building and is in there today, is a Liberty Bell. It was not the Liberty Bell, but it was made in the same foundry that the Liberty Bell was made in, brings the same E-flat, I think it is, what it is that the Liberty Bell has. So, it's an exact replica of the Liberty Bell that's there.
We have an Aitken Bible, a fairly rare Bible. It is the first and only Bible commissioned by the United States Congress to be printed. At our founding, it was illegal before we declared our independence, for a[n] English Bible to be printed in the colonies.
It might've been for good reasons. They wanted it to be accurate, but there might have been for monopoly reasons. They wanted the colonies to buy. I don't know all the details, but it was illegal, and so, when we declared our independence, Robert Aitken asked Congress for permission, because here, he's doing something that had been illegal prior, and gets permission by the United States Congress to print. And there's [sic] only a handful of those that remain, but we'll show that. And he put the approval that he was given right in the front of the Bible, So, here is in the Bible, the approval by our Congress for him and talks about it being a good work.
Jim: And it talks a bit about the history of the founding of the nation, too, in there, right?
Steve: It just lets us understand a little bit of the heart of the Founders of this nation.
Jim: You also have a Jefferson letter?
Steve: We do. There is a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote about a month before he left office as President. He was responding to a letter the commendation somebody had written him and was thanking him for it. And there's the significant line, the first line of the second paragraph that is significant.
It says, "No provision of our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprise of the civil authority." What he is arguing for is the most dear part of our nation, is our religious freedoms.
Steve: So, Thomas Jefferson was an advocate of that. At the time our colonies each and in some cases had an established religion, established denomination. And so, we were following what was established in England with an established church--
Jim: Kind of a state-sanctioned church.
Steve: --a state church, yeah. And so, he said, no, people ought to be free to believe what they want to believe and established and was foundational of this nation our religious freedoms, and that's what he's saying should be most precious.
Jim: You know, it reminds me of the Danbury Connecticut letter that he wrote saying, and I believe this is a close paraphrase, but he said something like, "No government should come between a man and his God." I mean, that is powerful.
Steve: Yeah, yeah.
Jim: And those things are at stake today and again, I just so appreciate the Green family and how you have defended that right for all of us. When you consider the Museum of the Bible, one of the great things when I bring my boys here, I mean, it's the Smithsonian. This is probably the greatest collection of museums in the world with Air and Space, with the Natural History Museum, and you can go right down the line.
What do you think the impact will be for people to see the Scripture lifted up in a town that has kind of diminished its importance in the culture? What do you think a family will walk away with?
Steve: When we first were looking, we were looking in Dallas, and we opened it up to New York City and Washington, D.C. And our survey showed, it would be best attended here for the reason you mentioned, and it just makes sense.
Here is the hub, heart of museums in our country, and potentially around the world. And it made sense that that's where we would do best. And, I think of one of the floors, our Impact Floor, that shows how that this Book speaks into every area of life and it has impacted every area of life. The average person on the street really does not have a full understanding of the degree that this Book has impacted their life. And I want a person coming in, as they go through that floor specifically to almost feel cheated when they leave there. How come I have never been told this?
I remember having that sense of 20 years ago, when I was reading and watching some videos on how that the Bible had an influence on the Founders of this nation. And I can remember having that feeling; how come I have been cheated? How come I have not been taught and told about how that this book was so instrumental in the forming of our nation?
And so, I would hope people would have that sense, when they leave, at least that floor. The Narrative Floor, the goal is for them to have a basic understanding of the story of this book. And the History Floor is for us to present the facts of what you talk about. There is more manuscript evidence for this Book than all the major classical works combined. And let's show that evidence. Let's present that. So, there's obviously a lot of takeaway that a person can take from the museum.
Jim: Right and we're excited to play a small role in that. When you talk about the impact of the Bible on the family or on culture, those are the themes you're talking about.
Jim: And we're excited to work with you, to demonstrate how the Bible has impacted family in such a profound way.
Steve: When you look at ministries, all the ministries, you know, from compassion ministries, ministries to any aspect of life, Focus on the Family being one, focused on impacting the family for good, this Book's had an impact in every area of life, and that's what we want to tell.
Jim: Fear not. (Laughing)
Jim: This Book is a good book. Steve, thank you so much for the inspiration and for building the Museum of the Bible, for what your family represents and the important role Scripture has played in your life and how it's playing out here in Washington, D.C.
Let me turn to the listener. Man, plan a vacation out here. Come and show your kids how Scripture has impacted not just this nation, but the world. See the artifacts that Steve has talked about, some incredible pieces that will really inspire not only you, but also your kids and I hope you'll do that. Come and visit the Museum of the Bible right here in Washington, D.C. Steve, thanks for being with us.
Steve: Thank you, Jim.
John: We've been listening to a conversation that Jim Daly had with Steve Green. He's chairman of the board for the Museum of the Bible. Now Jim, I know you're excited about what this museum could mean as millions from around the world come to see it.
Jim: John, it's hard to describe the effort that has gone into this. Millions, hundreds of millions of dollars, both from the Green Family, as well as donors, to make this historic building. I think it was built in the late 1800's into something that God is now gonna use to display for the world.
Think of all the people that go to the Smithsonian museums along the Mall. And this is just three blocks away. And I pray that God will use this effort to touch the hearts of millions of people, that as you see fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and you see the accuracy and the authenticity of the Scripture, that people, maybe even skeptics are gonna walk in there and walk out changed, walk out differently than when they walked in, hopefully changed by the power of God.
John: And I trust our listeners will be praying for this project. I mean, it's really a very, very spectacular effort and it opens in November, as you said earlier, Jim and we're so thankful for the Green family and all that they've done to make this possible.
Visit our website and we're gonna have a virtual tour of the Museum there for you, to try it out and just give you a little taste of it. That's www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Or call us if we can encourage you in better knowing the Bible. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY: 800-232-6459.
Jim: John, let me reiterate that. In the spirit of this project, getting the Word of God in the hands and the heads of people, we want to offer Bibles to people, as well. And if you can make a gift to Focus on the Family for any amount or even if you can't afford a Bible, we still want to get it into your hands, so contact us here at the ministry. We will do that as our way of supporting the Scripture and getting the Word of God out to as many people as possible. And if you can help us cover the cost for those who can't afford it, we would be grateful for that. I know the heart of people to help spread the Word of God is huge and let me simply say, thank you in advance for taking care of these needs.
John: Well, we stand on biblical principles here. If you don't have a Bible, let us know. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller, inviting you back next time. You'll hear an inspiring message about marriage from Dr. Ravi Zacharias, as we once again, help you and your family thrive.
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Steve GreenView Bio
Steve Green serves as the chairman of the board for Museum of the Bible and is the visionary leader in establishing one of the world's largest private collections of rare biblical artifacts. In his role as chairman, he has assembled a team of academics, designers, technology professionals and other experts to create the 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible, dedicated to a scholarly and engaging presentation of the Bible's impact, history and narrative. It is scheduled to open in 2017 in Washington, D.C., three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Steve is also the president of Hobby Lobby, the world's largest privately owned arts and crafts retailer. He and his wife, Jackie, reside in Oklahoma City and have six children and four grandchildren.