There was a party this evening at Broadway and West 61st in Manhattan, to celebrate a remarkable exhibit at the Museum of Biblical Art. The exhibition, “On Eagles’ Wings: The King James Bible Turns 400,” features over 50 Bibles of historical interest — including a copy of the KJV itself from its 1611 printing, whose anniversary we commemorate this year. There are other KJVs on display, showing the printing history of this beloved translation over the centuries.
A couple of my favorite items on display actually predate the KJV. There is a manuscript from circa 1440, on vellum, of a Wycliffe Bible. Wycliffe was a proto-Protestant Bible translator and ancestor of the Hussites; he was not martyred, as his successor Tyndale would be, but church authorities expressed their posthumous disapproval of his work by digging up his remains and tossing them in the river. The global success of the KJV is a vindication of Wycliffe, Tyndale, and the 16th-century Reformers: giants on whose shoulders we stand today.
The exhibit is utterly fascinating, not just for the historic volumes on display, but for the paintings of noted artist Makoto Fujimura. The works were commissioned by Crossway Publishing, to illustrate a new volume of The Four Gospels.
So if you’re visiting NYC between now and October 16, please consider checking out this lovely display of very old Bibles, and very new paintings, at the Museum of Biblical Art.
I also got to chat with a tall, stunning strawberry-blonde college professor — early 30s, I’d guess — from Sweden, who assured me that Ingmar Bergman’s stark portrayals of the Church of Sweden are quite accurate; she herself is of Pentecostal leanings. Since meeting her a few hours ago, I have tried to picture members of Manhattan’s rocking Times Square Church in the pews of Gunnar Björnstrand’s bleak Swedish church in Bergman’s Winter Light, and vice versa: Both images bring a smile to my face, but they remind me of something serious and reassuring — that while the ways in which we reach out to God are staggeringly diverse, there is only one God at the end of our paths.
It is sometimes said that if you stand in the middle of Times Square long enough you will meet everyone you ever knew. That is a traditional tribute to the diversity of this marvelous city — of which I got a couple of very welcome reminders this evening.
CORRECTION: I initially wrote that the exhibit was at the American Bible Society. The Bible Society is located in the same building, but the exhibit is at the Museum of Biblical Art.