The Lunar Bible | Museum of the Bible

Have you ever heard of this special Bible, now part of the Museum of the Bible collection? It is called the Lunar Bible, and it is part of a fascinating story, one I was not familiar with until yesterday (Nov.19), when on the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing of Apollo 12, the Museum of the Bible sent out this note:

The story of the Lunar Bible is a fascinating tale of tragedy and triumph. The saga began in 1967 with Apollo 1 astronaut Ed White telling reporters he wanted to take a Bible to the moon. Sadly, an accident during a test run for its launch took the lives of the Apollo 1 crew.

In their honor, the Apollo Prayer League was formed to pray for the safety of future astronauts and to honor Ed White by taking a Bible to the moon. Using technology developed by the National Cash Register Company, Reverend John Stout, founder of the Apollo Prayer League, had a microfiche version of the King James Bible produced measuring only an inch-and-a-half square.

It took a few tries to get the Bible to the moon. Fifty years ago, today, the Apollo 12 lunar module, manned by Commander Charles Conrad and pilot Alan Bean, landed on the moon. Unfortunately, the astronauts left a microfiche Bible on the command module, which meant the first book to land on a celestial body would have to wait.

The Apollo 13 mission tried again, but an explosion on board the spacecraft thwarted the attempt. The astronauts returned safely but were not able to land on the moon. Finally, on February 5, 1971, Apollo 14 returned to the moon, at last bringing 100 copies of the “Lunar Bible” to its surface.

At the MOB website, you will find a small collection of Lunar bible artifacts, which includes this description of its history (just viewed a little differently).

Prior to his death in 1967, Astronaut Edward White II (Apollo 1) told a reporter he hoped to carry a Bible to the moon. In his memory, the Apollo Prayer League formed in 1968, in part to fulfill that desire. Several missions attempted to land the Bible on the moon. Alan Bean (Apollo 12) was the first, but due to a mix-up the Bible only orbited the moon. Apollo 13 carried 512 copies, but an explosion prevented a lunar landing. Finally, in 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell carried 300 copies of the Bible with him (100 in the lunar module, 200 in the command module, and 212 also secretly stowed in the command module). On February 5, 1971, Antares, Apollo 14’s lunar module, touched down on the moon, bringing with it the Bible.

View the link below to visit this small collection with a large story. Amazing where God’s Word has gone!

Source: The Lunar Bible | Museum of the Bible

The Battle Cry of the Reformation and the Surrender of Greek and Hebrew

Seminary building entrance

This post comes in my role as registrar at the PRC Theological Seminary, an institution that has its roots in the great Protestant Reformation in every aspect (church historical, theological, homiletical, pastoral, and educational) and where we place a strong emphasis on learning the original languages of God’s inspired and infallible Word – Hebrew for the OT portion and Greek for the NT portion.

This blog post by Dr. D. Wallace affirms what we still embrace in the twenty-first century – whole-heartedly and unashamedly. Current and prospective students must know this, but so also must our members. And the reasons why, for without the foundation, we will lose the edifice.

So read on and be reminded why we are truly a Protestant and Reformed Seminary.

Daniel B. Wallace

One of the great ironies and unnecessary casualties of the Protestant Reformation is shaping up in America today. The battle cry of the Reformation was ad fontes—“back to the sources!”—which meant going behind Jerome’s Latin Vulgate and reading the original Greek New Testament. This was coined by Erasmus, the man responsible for publishing the first Greek New Testament in 1516. He was a Roman Catholic priest who was swimming against the current of much of 16th century Catholic scholarship. It was especially the Protestants who latched onto Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. During his lifetime, over 300,000 copies were sold! A few years after his death, the Council of Trent banned many of his writings.

The Reformers also went beyond the Vulgate and translated the Bible into modern languages.

Reformation

Now, half a millennium after Luther nailed his theses to the door of the great Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, theological seminaries…

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Lost Latin Commentary on the Gospels Rediscovered after 1,500 years

This special story was posted at The Conversation last week (August 23, 2017, by Hugh Houghton) and caught my attention. Though it may not be exciting to many, it is to me, since anything from the realm of books is of interest – especially rare, lost treasures such as this Latin commentary from the fourth century.

And yes, you may find scanned images of this rare book online as well as an English translation of it now available (see links in the story below).

Below you will find the beginning of the story; read the rest and visit the links at the link at the end.

The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century.

The biblical text of the manuscript is of particular significance, as it predates the standard Latin version known as the Vulgate and provides new evidence about the earliest form of the Gospels in Latin.

Despite references to this commentary in other ancient works, no copy was known to survive until Dr Lukas Dorfbauer, a researcher from the University of Salzburg, identified Fortunatianus’ text in an anonymous manuscript copied around the year 800 and held in Cologne Cathedral Library. The manuscripts of Cologne Cathedral Library were made available online in 2002.

Source: Lost Latin commentary on the Gospels rediscovered after 1,500 years thanks to digital technology

“On God our salvation must depend.” Peter M. Vermigli

ref-comm-scripture-romans-2016In the recently published Romans 9-16 commentary (New Testament VIII) in the series “Reformation Commentary on Scripture” (IVP Academic, 2016), the Italian Reformer Peter Martyr Vermigli is quoted (from his own commentary on Romans) in connection with Romans 11:1-4.

In a section headed with “God Causes, Enables and Completes Our Salvation,” this is what Vermigli states (slightly edited):

This should not be understood as simple knowledge, for even those who are damned are not hidden from God. Instead this knowledge has a connection with approval. And they are said to have been foreknown who have been received by God and whom he has separated from the rest as his people whom he will save. For this reason Augustine in his book On the Gift of Perseverance alters this verb ‘he has foreknown’ to ‘he has predestined.’

Those who want election to be dependent on foreseen works say that those whom God foreknew would believe and live godly lives are picked out. But these ideas have been refuted at length above, so instead let us hold the opposite understanding. We believe therefore that we accept God’s truth and live godly lives because we have been chosen, and not that we have been chosen because we will believe.

On God our salvation must depend; it does not even have its beginning from us. Christ said (as it is written in John): ‘Those you have given to me I have not lost.’ That is, if they do not hear me, if they perish, they are not those whom you have given me.

Museum of the Bible: An Extended Fly-Through

While we are on the subject of Bibles today (see my previous post), how would you like to take a virtual tour of a museum in the United States that will be dedicated to the Bible?

We have posted before about the coming “Museum of the Bible”, initiated and funded by Hobby Lobby CEO Steven Green. One of their recent videos (March, 2016) gives one a virtual tour of the museum, set to open in Washington, D.C. in November 2017.

Take it in and be impressed with what is coming. Looks to be a “must see” to me!

If you want an “insider’s” viewpoint on this museum, check out Daniel B. Wallace’s recent post on it.

Published in: on September 29, 2016 at 10:22 PM  Leave a Comment  

More on Erasmus and His Greek NT – Trinitarian Bible Society

ErasmusPreviously this year we have commented on the fact that 2016 marks the 500th anniversary of the printing of Desiderius Erasmus’ (1466-1536) Greek New Testament, a significant event that was used by God to bring about and spread the great Reformation of the 16th century.

Issue #615 of the Quarterly Record published by the Trinitarian Bible Society contains a noteworthy article on Erasmus and his Greek NT by C.P. Hallihan. You may find the full version on their website at the link provided (pdf, which you may download).

Since this article was part of my Sunday reading yesterday, I post a segment of it here for your benefit.

The task in hand was to print Erasmus’s new version of the Latin Vulgate New Testament, supported in a parallel column by his newly compiled text of the Greek New Testament. The primary aim for Erasmus, remember, was to refurbish and reclaim the Latin text using the Greek as a plumb line to vindicate his Latin differences. His admirable labours in Greek manuscript gathering, comparing,
collating and editing into a continuous text never weaned him from his Latin text. Yes, the clear spring of literal meaning was to hand, to correct a long decayed text, but
Erasmus failed to see the real significance. His mother tongue was Dutch, yet he never
considered that need.

Compare Tyndale:
…at last I heard speak of Jesus, even then when the New Testament was first set forth by Erasmus; which when I understood to be eloquently done by him, being allured rather by the Latin than by the word of God (for at that time I knew not what it meant), I bought it… I chanced upon this sentence of St Paul (O most sweet and comfortable sentence to my soul!) in 1 Tim. 1, ‘it is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief and principal’.

Valla never came to that; I could wish to be more assured that Erasmus did. We rejoice that Tyndale did not settle to correct Wycliffe, but gave us his direct, engaging and still delightful rendering from Greek into English.

All the complaints that can be levelled against Erasmus’s 1516 New Testament have been made and made again from that day to this: too few manuscripts, over hasty
and careless print run, inadequate control of the printing process and proofing,
commercial pressure, and so on. They are all valid, owned and admitted to by Erasmus
himself from the beginning, and thus reedited and corrected through four further
editions. What else could such a ground breaker be? The complaining was just mud
thrown in the hope of avoiding the facts. After at least a thousand years, a new, truly living, version of the Word of God was available and accessible.

I could spend quite pleasing hours examining and explaining these complaints, bewailing the death of Aldus Manutius, the Venetian master of Greek printing of great beauty in 1515, so that Froben had the job instead, and the near comic confusion of texts and revisions at the printers in Basle where Erasmus was now stranded11 with a very limited manuscript collection. But these are all just excuses for dodging the consequences of the appearance of this Greek New Testament.

Making Medieval Manuscripts – Getty Museum

For our first history/archives post today we feature this interesting video from the Getty Museum on the process of making illuminated books (manuscripts) in the Middle Ages. I find this history of book-making fascinating, and I think you will also find it informative.

This is the introduction found to the video on YouTube:

An illuminated manuscript is a book written and decorated completely by hand. Illuminated manuscripts were among the most precious objects produced in the Middle Ages and the early Renaissance, primarily in monasteries and courts. Society’s rulers–emperors, kings, dukes, cardinals, and bishops–commissioned the most splendid manuscripts.

Published in: on April 21, 2016 at 6:30 AM  Leave a Comment  

Erasmus and the 500th Anniversary of His Greek NT

ErasmusAs you probably are aware by now, the 500th anniversary of the great Reformation of the 16th century will be celebrated next year, with many events and publications already marking the event.

A lesser-known but still highly significant anniversary this year is the 500th anniversary of Erasmus’ Greek NT, which edition of the Bible may in some respects be said to have fueled the fire of the Reformation. Yes, Erasmus’ views on free will also fueled the fire in Luther’s soul to defend salvation by sovereign grace (cf. his Bondage of the Will); but there is no question God in His great and good providence used the Greek NT Erasmus pieced together to kindle the renewed interest in His Word, which in turn led to the spread of that Word throughout Europe – and indeed the world – in manifold new translations – the language of the people.

Below is the beginning of and a link to a recent article that appeared on the Reformation21 website detailing some history of Erasmus’ Greek NT – and dispelling some myths about it. I believe you will find it informative and interesting.

And if you want to want another source, look up the Dunham Bible Museum website at Houston Baptist University. They recently did a feature on Erasmus’ Greek NT also, which you may find here in their newsletter.

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Erasmus’ Greek New Testament. It was a landmark publication for biblical studies, though we may tend to forget its role in the Reformation. 2016 will not receive as much attention as 2017, which may as well be dubbed Luther-palooza for all the books, seminars, and conferences that will cover the 95 Theses. But to those who have struggled with their aorist declensions, this is the root of your frustration. Tyrant, thy name is Erasmus.
The mythology of Erasmus’ New Testament is another story–one repeated by well-intentioned Greek professors hoping to inspire students. In my life, it was during an exegesis course that I first heard of Erasmus’ slapdash efforts to bring the Greek text to print. For all the grandeur I expected in the story, I was unprepared for how Erasmus stepped into a quagmire of textual criticism that even his mind could not fathom.
Still the story made sense in seminary. If Greek was good enough for Luther, then it is good enough for us–and we later heard stories of Luther translating in the Wartburg with Erasmus’ text resting under his elbow. The story is only compounded by the fact that Erasmus’ third edition New Testament was used to produce the translations of William Tyndale, the Geneva Bible and the KJV.
But the tale is embellished to the point of being an overfed caricature of Reformation hagiography.

– See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/articles/church-historys-greatest-myths.php#sthash.adpzOiee.dpuf

Source: Church History’s Greatest Myths – Reformation21

Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found – The New York Times

KJV-draft-SWard

This item was mentioned yesterday on Challies.com and I find it worth mentioning here as well. An excellent archive find with significant historical significance, this little KJV draft notebook looks to be a real treasure.

Below is part of the news story as carried by the NY Times. Find the full story at the link below.

The King James Bible is the most widely read work in English literature, a masterpiece of translation whose stately cadences and transcendent phrases have long been seen, even by secular readers, as having emerged from a kind of collective divine inspiration.

But now, in an unassuming notebook held in an archive at the University of Cambridge, an American scholar has found what he says is an important new clue to the earthly processes behind that masterpiece: the earliest known draft, and the only one definitively written in the hand of one of the roughly four dozen translators who worked on it.

A bit further in the article these two KJV scholars are referenced:

David Norton, an emeritus professor at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand and the author of several books about the King James Bible, called it “a major discovery” — if not quite equal to finding a draft of one of Shakespeare’s plays, “getting on up there.”

Gordon Campbell, a fellow in Renaissance studies at the University of Leicester and a consultant for the planned Museum of the Bible in Washington, said the new manuscript shed fresh light on how the King James translators actually did their work, as opposed to how they had been told to do it.

Studying the creation of the King James Bible “is like working with a jigsaw puzzle where 90 percent of the pieces are missing,” Mr. Campbell said. “You can arrange the surviving pieces as you wish, but then you find something new and you realize you put it together the wrong way.”

Source: Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible Is Found, Scholar Says – The New York Times

Humanism and the 15th Century Church: Erasmus and the Greek NT – R.Reeves

Setting the Stage by Ryan Reeves | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

Before taking leave of the July issue of Tabletalk, we will spend one more post looking at the history of the church during the 15th century – the theme of this month’s issue.

Dr. Ryan Reeves has the final featured article on the subject and he gives us another “big picture” glance at this important century of church history.

ErasmusHis entire article is worth your time and effort – lots of new things to learn or be reminded of as far as major events during this time; but I will give you the end of his article because of the special significance of a certain Dutchman whom God used to set the stage for the Reformation in a special way, and whom a certain great Reformer would engage theologically and biblically on the doctrine of free will (Remember the great Reformation work The Bondage of the Will?!).

Sensing the opportunity to expand learning and literacy, the humanists unleashed a torrent of writing on theology, Bible, classical studies, and history. Of all the humanists, Erasmus of Rotterdam was their prince. Born in 1466 as the illegitimate son of a priest, Erasmus demonstrated skill with languages and textual criticism that propelled him onto the stage as a leading light of the new intellectual movement of the Renaissance. In the course of his life, Erasmus gave the world complete editions of the works of the church fathers as well as numerous tracts on theological subjects.

By far his most impactful work was the Greek New Testament—a work he admitted was gathered in a slapdash manner from twelfth-century Byzantine texts, with some passages wrongly added to the Bible and six verses of the book of Revelation missing entirely. The Greek New Testament was something like a modern interlinear Bible. In one column was the Greek text; next to it was a fresh Latin translation by Erasmus. Not only did this provide readers with the original Greek, but it also provided a road map for students to help determine how to render the Greek into their language. It is no surprise, then, that Luther used this text as the basis of his German New Testament, which he translated after his trial at the Diet of Worms.

Through destruction and exploration, the fifteenth century did more than bridge the gap between the medieval age and the modern world; it set the stage for the Reformation.