Our Book – 2017 Bible Exhibit in Augsburg

April 7th – May 13th, 2017

From April 7th to May 13th, the interactive “Our Book” experience presents valuable historical documents and works of art. It is designed to make the Bible accessible in a contemporary manner that lasts a lifetime. Most of the 120 artifacts come from the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. Organized in collaboration with an ecumenical group of sponsors from Augsburg, the exhibit is a unique event during the 2017 commemorative year of Reformation.

On display: cuneiform tablets, Qumran fragments, Torah scrolls, early Bible manuscripts, medieval German translations of the Bible before Martin Luther – as well as a microfiche Bible taken to the moon on Apollo 14 and the personal Bible of Elvis Presley with his markings and comments in the margins.

Further highlights include the largest, the smallest and the longest Bibles in the world: The Waynai Bible, printed by hand between 1928 and 1930 in California, weighs half a ton. At 1.1 meters tall and 2.44 meters wide, it is the largest Bible in the world. The King James Bible from 1930, which fits inside a matchbox, is the smallest complete Bible with pages that can be turned. The longest Bible in the world is the Wiedmann Bible. It consists of us 3,333 painted pictures, which are joined together in a 1.1 kilometer-long folded manuscript. It is displayed in digital form.

The title of the “Our Book”exhibit points to the impactful story of the Bible. It has molded European culture like no other book. As the exhibit catalogue notes, it has shaped everything from music to painting to sculpture and even language and world views. Since its beginnings over 3,000 years ago, people have encountered the living God in the Word of the Bible, and they continue to find direction, solace, assurance and courage for daily life in it to the present day.

“500 years after the Reformation, we would like to look beyond the confessional differences to the core that binds us: the Word of God as found in the Old and New Testament,” explain Episcopal Vicar Prelate Dr. Bertram Meier and City Deacon Susanne Kasch in discussing the reasoning behind the Augsburg initiative for the exhibit.

For this reason, an ecumenical group of sponsors – consisting of the Catholic Diocese of Augsburg, the Evangelical Lutheran Decanate, the Evangelische Allianz and the Arbeitsgemeinschaft christlicher Kirchen (ACK) – came together. The exhibit is curated by Prof. Dr. Dr. Roland Werner (Theologian, Marburg), with support from Dr. Gabriele Holthuis (Art Historian, Löwenstein) as well as Bernward Paulick (Architect, Volkenroda).

The “Our Book” exhibit takes place at three locations. In the “Lower Fletz” (ground floor) of the Augsburger Rathaus (Town Hall), the development of the Bible is displayed under the title “The Bible Comes into the World – The Bible goes into the World”. At St. Moritz Cathedral, the theme is “More than Words: The Bible and Music”. At St. Anna Cathedral, the topic is “The Bible as Medium”. There, the displays range from a Gutenberg printing press to an installation connected to facebook.

The exhibit is designed in such a way that adults, children and young people all find something for them. A trained team of volunteers, working a total of 888 shifts, welcomes visitors. The treasures of the Bible can be discovered on your own or as part of a guided tour. Set groups may also request separate guided tours. An extensive supporting program accompanies the exhibit.

Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC

The Museum of the Bible has already organized various local exhibits with the Augsburg sponsors as well as an exhibit entitled “Passages” that toured the Unites States and went to the Vatican in 2012 and 2014 under the title “Verbum Domini – The Word of the Lord”. Further exhibits have been organized in Jerusalem at the “Museum of Bible Lands”, at the Cathedral of Havana in 2014 and 2015 and at the Ulmer Museum in 2016 (under the title “Questions of Faith”). Currently, an innovative Museum of the Bible is being constructed in Washington, DC near the Capitol. (www.museumofthebible.org)

Upon the conclusion of the “Our Book” exhibit in Augsburg, a number of the artifacts will be moved to Wittenberg (Schlossstrasse 31), where they will make the story of the Bible more approachable for the “Reformation pilgrims” as part of an exhibit of the same name (albeit in slightly smaller scope).

Sponsors of the exhibit

  • Prelate Dr. Bertram Meier, Catholic Diocese of Augsburg
  • City Deacon Susanne Kasch, Ev. Luth. Church of Augsburg
  • Pastor Markus Stoltze, Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen, Augsburg
  • Pfr. Bernd Fischer, Evangelische Allianz, Augsburg
  • Prof. Dr. phil. Dr. theol. Roland Werner, Zinzendorf-Institut, Marburg
  • Museum of the Bible, Washington, DC

Landesrabbiner Dr.hc. Henry Brandt will represent the Jewish Community Augsburg/Swabia with a speech for the occasion during the opening event. The Holocaust exhibit is integrated into the Bible exhibit.