“Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth.” (Proverbs 4:5)
‘Why the Bestselling Book of All-Time Is Seldom Read’ is the name of the event which will take place this week at the Bible Lands Museum featuring Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the Chief Rabbi of Efrat and the founder of The Center for Jewish – Christian Understanding and Cooperation (CJCUC), and Rev. Rebecca Brimmer International President and CEO of Bridges for Peace. The event is an attempt to investigate the question of why so few people are familiar with the stories of the Bible.
According to a recent poll conducted by the Samit foundation in conjunction with the museum, 93 percent of Israelis have a Bible at home, but over a third of them do not recall when they last opened it.
In addition to not reading the Bible consistently, the poll also revealed a lack of basic biblical knowledge among the populace. Over one third of secular Israelis, regardless of religion, did not know on which day man was created, although over 80 percent were able to list the four matriarchs.
An overwhelming majority of Israelis from all spectrum’s of society agreed that the Bible needs to be studied in school and in a more comprehensive format.
Director of the museum, Amanda Weiss said; “The study found that there is a large discrepancy between the great importance which we all place on the Bible itself, and the lack of knowledge which we have of its content and its accessibility. In addition to studying the Bible in schools, which everyone agrees is of utmost importance, we need to create a sense of curiosity and excitement about the Bible for all ages, starting from the very young and continuing on throughout our lives. We need to increase our historical knowledge of the Bible and its stories, as we are not simply talking about another book on the shelf.”
The event hopes to give more background to the museum’s current exhibit on the Bible, whose purpose is to do bring Bible awareness to the public. The exhibit, which has just been extended due to its popularity, opened in October of 2013 and includes original fragments from the Septuagint, the earliest New Testament Scriptures, illuminated manuscripts, rare texts from the Cairo Geniza and original pages from the Gutenberg Bible. It traces the history of the Jewish Bible, the Jewish roots of Christianity and the dissemination of monotheistic faith.
Wednesday’s talk will focus on the new challenges facing the Bible as a medium. “In today’s generation with a plethora of new age media, the Bible is accessible to all via iPhones and computers and less people are using an actual physical book,” says Anat Sella-Koren a spokesperson for the museum.
One of the hot topics to be discussed at the event will be how each religion is dealing with the changes presented by modern technology when it comes to Bible study. Koren said, “Research has been done, and the findings conclude that while people do have a copy of the Bible at home, they often do not use the physical book itself anymore. It is all digitized now. The first time a revolution in textual accessibility like this happened was when the printing press was invented. Suddenly everyone had access to the Bible, it is literally at our fingertips, which was not always the case.“
When asked about the combination of Jewish and Christian speakers, Koren said, “The Bible is a book which both religions hold dear. Its development, especially into the modern era, is something which both religions are continuing to deal with. It is only fitting that both religions be discussed and that it happen together.”
Weiss also pointed the importance of the location of the event. “It is extremely fitting that this exhibition, these texts, and these types of events are in Jerusalem, mere meters from where many of the events contained in the Bible took place,” she said.
The event, which will include a question and answer session with the panelists, will take place on March 26. The panel begins at 6pm with explanatory and educational sessions focused on the exhibition followed by a discussion beginning at 7pm. For registration call 02-561-1066 or email ‘[email protected]’.