Ancient Bibles on Display at The Freer Gallery of Art
Two ancient Bibles, written in Greek on parchment in the 3rd and 4th centuries, are on display now at The Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Bibles are rarely displayed due to their age and sensitivity to light. Recently brought out from the gallery’s archives, the two Bibles will be on display through February 16, 2014.
Aside from their historical significance, one of the Bibles, known as the “Washington Codex” contains an additional passage in the Gospel of Mark not found in any other known Biblical manuscript. The passage describes how Jesus, after rising from death, declared the reign of Satan to be over on earth. While this phrase caused significant controversy among scholars when the Codex was first translated in 1912, though Freer and a team of experts determined the manuscript to be authentic.
Charles Lang Freer was a 19th and 20th century business mogul who built his fortune manufacturing railroad cars in Detroit. Freer was also an avid art collector, and amassed a substantial collection of pottery, along with other pieces, which he later donated to the Smithsonian. Freer obtained the two Bibles from Al Arabi, an antiques dealer in Giza.
The Peacock Room at The Freer Gallery of Art is normally open on the third Thursday of every month. The room was designed by James Whistler and is usually filled with natural light. However, it has been shuttered to preserve the integrity of the Bibles while they’re on display.
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