A great treasure at HBU is the Dunham Bible Museum, with its creative displays of one of America’s most distinctive collections of rare Bibles and manuscripts. Visitors entering the museum, located in the Morris Cultural Arts Center, first find themselves standing on the moon, viewing the distant earth while hearing the Bible’s first words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Walking through the museum is a journey through time as the eras of Moses, the Dead Sea Scroll caves, and the medieval monks give way to the printing shop of Johann Gutenberg. The continuing story of the spread of the printed Bible is full of drama, intrigue, and courage, and volumes in the museum’s Bible collection mark important steps along the way.
- archaeological artifacts from the biblical period
- Torah scrolls
- a leaf from an original Gutenberg Bible
- Erasmus’ 1516 Greek New Testament
- a 1536 English New Testament translated by William Tyndale
- the first English Study Bible, used by Shakespeare, the Pilgrims, the Puritans, and early settlers at Jamestown
- one of about 200 remaining first editions of the 1611 King James Version
- an important collection of American Bibles illustrating the Bible’s influence and impact on the United States
Throughout 2015, the Museum has focused on raising funds to purchase of the Heritage Edition of The St. John’s Bible, a seven volume beautifully illuminated manuscript commissioned by St. John’s Abbey at the turn of the 21st century. This year the Museum was also given the 3,000 volume collection of Bill Chamberlain, a major collection of English Bible translations.
HBU’s Dunham Bible Museum has been particularly blessed by the donations of Archie and Linda Dunham. In 2005, their contribution helped fund the development of the Bible Museum’s space and exhibits in the Morris Cultural Arts Center. The Dunhams also provided funds for the purchase of the major Bible collections of Drs. Donald Brake and John Hellstern, which now make up so much of the early Bible displays. Most recently, the Dunhams have pledged $5 million towards the preservation of the collection, new acquisitions, and expanded space.
The museum’s library of rare volumes not on display is open to scholars for research by appointment; the catalogue of the collection is available on the Museum’s website.
In all its exhibits and programs, the goal of the Dunham Bible Museum is to bring visitors to the light of Scripture and to draw people to God’s Word, which He has magnified above His Name (Psalm 138:2). Visitors, who come from all over the world, leave with a renewed appreciation for the preservation of the Bible and for the sacrifices many have made for us to so easily read the Bibles we have today.
The Dunham Bible Museum is open Monday-Saturday, 10am- 4pm. Appointments may be made for group tours by contacting Dr. Diana Severance.