Overview: Museum Collection


Cuneiform, Antiquities, and Classical Manuscripts

  • One of the largest collections of cuneiform tablets in North America, most of which date to the late third and early second millennium BCE, the time period traditionally associated with Abraham
  • The Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, a large cuneiform tablet from the second millennium BCE that contains text from the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the most important literary works to have survived from Ancient Mesopotamia
  • An array of biblical, classical, and documentary texts on papyrus including several previously unpublished New Testament fragments, P39 (P. Oxy. 1780), and the Greek Psalms codex known as P. Bodmer XXIV (Rahlfs 2110)
  • The third-century Wyman fragment, the oldest known copy of Romans Chapter 5:1, which states that Christians “are justified by faith”—a key passage during the Protestant Reformation
  • Ancient pottery dating from the Neolithic Period (6000-4300 BCE)

Jewish Texts

  • The world’s largest private collection of Torah scrolls, spanning more than 700 years of history, including Torahs that survived the Spanish Inquisition, scrolls confiscated by the Nazis during World War II, and others from across the globe
  • The second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scroll fragments, the earliest surviving texts of the Bible, all of which are unpublished and are currently undergoing research through the Museum of the Bible Scholars Initiative
  • The earliest-known form of a Jewish prayer book, providing an important historical link between the Dead Sea Scrolls and the next-oldest existing Jewish texts

Medieval Manuscripts

  • The Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a palimpsest manuscript containing biblical texts from the fifth to ninth centuries CE, which comprises the world’s largest corpus of Christian Palestinian Aramaic, a dialect of Aramaic close to the language Jesus would have used
  • The Rosebery Rolle, which contains a translation of the Psalms into Middle English that predates Wycliffe’s translation by some 40 years
  • An undocumented copy of Wycliffe’s New Testament in Middle English
  • Rare illuminated manuscripts, including the Hours and Psalter of Elizabeth de Bohun, one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts produced in 14th-century England

Printed Bibles and Reformation-Era Artifacts

  • First editions of the King James Bible
  • First editions of the Douay-Rheims Bible, the first Catholic English translation of the Old and New Testaments
  • A number of incunables, or the earliest printed books, including fragments from the Gutenberg Bible and the world’s only complete Block Bible in private hands
  • An undocumented large fragment of the Tyndale New Testament, apparently published while William Tyndale awaited execution
  • Early tracts and Bibles of Martin Luther, including a little-known letter written the night before Luther’s excommunication


  • A first edition of the Eliot Indian Bible, the first Bible printed in America, and the first complete Bible to be translated into a language different from the translator’s own
  • The Aitken Bible, the first complete English Bible printed in America and the only Bible printing ever endorsed by Congress
  • A handwritten letter from Thomas Jefferson, in which he discusses his concept of religious liberty
  • Bibles belonging to celebrities and historical figures, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Babe Ruth and former presidents of the United States
  • The original manuscript of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which draws extensively from biblical imagery
  • The Lunar Bible—the first Bible ever to travel to another celestial body