Washington’s huge new Bible museum talks a lot about Jews. So why are some Jews so skeptical?

Source: The Washington Post

By Michelle Boorstein

Funded and founded by evangelicals, the new Museum of the Bible sticks out for something its leaders clearly wanted to emphasize: Jews.

The eight-story, cutting-edge $500 million institution, which opened last month and is already one of the world’s largest Bible museums, devotes more space to stories of the Hebrew Bible (Jewish texts) than to the New Testament (the part of the Christian canon featuring Jesus and his teachings), highlights a special permanent exhibit on Israeli antiquities, sells Jewish items in its gift shop like menorahs and mezzuzahs, and pipes the sound of people praying in Hebrew through its speakers. A real, live yarmulke-wearing rabbi from Israel is seated at the end of the final major exhibit, writing the letters of a Torah scroll, deliberately there to emphasize museum leaders’ perspective that “God started with the Jewish people, and he is still with the Jewish people,” said Cary Summers, the museum’s president.

Then why do some Jews express skepticism about the museum?

The answer blends politics, culture, theology and the question of whether it’s possible for disparate groups to ever share the Bible in a meaningful way. While modern liberal rhetoric aspires to religious pluralism, the reality is that Christians and Jews see the Bible in fundamentally different ways — from what counts as “the Bible” to how to read and understand it. Not to mention the significant differences within faith groups.

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