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tv   American Artifacts The Bible in America 1492 -1776  CSPAN  August 5, 2021 11:43am-12:13pm EDT

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these television companies and more including charter communications. broadband is a force for empowerment, and that is why charter has invested billions building infrastructure, upgrading technology and empowering opportunity in communities big and small. charter is connecting us. >> charter communications along with these television companies support c-span2 as a public service. the museum of the bible in washington, d.c., which opened on november 17th of 2017 has more than 3,000 books and artifacts on exhibit, and the building occupies almost an entire city block. up next on american artifacts we tour the american bible exhibit. this is the first of a two-part program. >> i'm kerry summers president of the american museum of the bible. we are standing in what is called the impact floor. this is the impact of the bible
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on america, and impact the bible globally, but today, we are going to focus on the impact of the bible in america, and it is talked about a lot. we write legislation about the impact of the bible and separation of church and state, and many things have, you know, come from that. but today, we are going to look at some of the undergirding items, documents, manuscripts, printed books that was here and our founding fathers used to create what we call the government of the united states. and we are also with me is norm conrad.
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and he shgoing to lead us through that. one of the big tourist groups coming through the museum, and you think in the museum, what do they want to see especially overseas and the bible in north america is one of the key pieces they want to go visit, because they want to know how could that be, how could the bible be a basis for the government. we are one of the few nations in the world to say that. so there is a lot of curiosity here. this area of the museum gets visited by many, many people, and this is their favorite part of the tour when they are here. this is the third largest museum in washington, d.c., and also the largest museum of its kind in the world. we focus on three major areas, the impact of the bible and the narrative and the stories of the bible and the history of the bible. with that, we have seven floors open to the public.
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we have the vatican here, voed with the vatican library who have their own space and the israel antiquity authority here and many exhibits that come in, but when you say every day i'm going to come next year and what can i expect to be there and these three floors, the impact, narrative and history are somewhat stationary and they rotate out, but they are the core of what we are as a museum and there other things with the traveling museum and the curriculum, and we put them under the three umbrellas, and bible is a big story and you take 1,000 different roads it. so we are nonsectarian and let the bible stand on its own two feet. the museum is really a unique museum unto itself, because we are taking a highly thematic approach so that not only are
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there great items here, but we are finding that people really have as much if not more so interest in the story surrounding that time period or that person that we are talking about more so than the item itself. you might have a great latin and mid-evil manuscript as so many people can read it and only so much time that you can spend looking at it. but there is a wealth of time that you can look at the story and the historical setting of the day which has shaped history. so we have focused on the item and focused on the exhibit with 3,100 items and the real focus is spent on stories and over 100 academics in almost four years putting it together, and that is one of the key roles to make sure that the stories are accurate and share them with the
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public in a very, very creative way and highly thematic ways. so, that is the summary of the bible. so if you'd like, we can give a little sort of a tour here, a norm can lead it since he is the real expert. so where do we start with bible in america? well, if you can hear the background here, it is the ocean of the waves hitting the shores of america. that is where we start here and this is the opening of where it says coming to america, and arriving in the new world and the mayflower impact. and we have a replica of this of which people have heard of these things, but they don't know a lot about them, and generations have passed, but as a kid, we had to memorize them and the
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declaration of independence, and the mayflower impact, and bill of right, and so echk though we may not have the mayflower document here, we introduce and talk about the importance of it and then move through the items it affects. so this is where we start and, norm, jump in there. >> this first artifact is knowned as the base. this is the book that was printed by the puritans and so not only the first immigrants here, they were scholars and translating from the hebrew to the greek, they presented the book of psalms put into songs.
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the next book besides that is really, really interesting from nathaniel morton who is the nephew of william bradford, the second lieutenant governor of plymouth, and using william bradford's works of plimouth plantation, he gave us what is known as "new england's memorials" and this is first history books printed in america. but within that, he included the actual mayflower compact as william bradford presented it in his notes, manuscripts of the plymouth plantation. the question often is, well, what bible did they bring over on the mayflower with them? we know for a fact that the captain of the mayflower had a king james bible. we know where that bible is located. and we also know that they also brought another bible which is known as the geneva bible.
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what's really powerful about this exhibit is this geneva bible actually belonged to william bradford, who was the second lieutenant governor of plymouth, but this bible is kind of interesting in its very controversial because of what it is. in 1560 the first edition of this text english puritans fled from england to geneva. while they were there because they were under protestant persecution, they produced what is known as the geneva bible because it was translated there. this is the very first english bible that would use the hebrew and the greek in its translation. it's also the first english bible to contain what is known as the typeset that we are familiar with in the newspaper as well today. before you had this medieval gothic text. and now you have the more friendly, easier text to look upon.
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it's also the first bible with study notes. and the study notes is what makes this bible so controversial. for instance, in the book of daniel when daniel refuses to bow down and worship the king, the notes say that he did write in the eyes of god because he obeyed the law of god over the law of man. so, if you're a monarchy or if you're the papacy at the time, you now have a book that contradicts your authority. so it wasn't a very influential book when it came to the monarchy and to the church at that time period. >> as we move through here, a couple of very unique features. you see hanging on our walls throughout this bible in america area a tapestry that we had woven. we've been told it's the longest tapestry woven in the united states, 274 feet, it was designed by an artist who lives off of maine, an island off of
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maine, it's a story of the progression of the bible in america through a tapestry. it's really unique in that regard. really if you've only got ten minutes, i want to see in ten minutes, we tell people just walk the tapestry, read the placards that we have embedded in the floor and that will give you a pretty good feel for bible in america in a very abbreviated form. so that's what this is. and i think the opening one here is really what is a roger williams' quote says the blood of so many hundreds, thousands souls of protestants and baptists spilt in the wars of present and former ages for their respective consciouses is not required nor accepted by jesus christ, the prince of peace. and it's a story in this area we really sort of tell the story of the good, the bad, the ugly.
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the bible was used for many, many reasons. it was -- it was used for man for their own purposes, which was not necessarily good at all. and so the role -- what's the role of the jews in the founding of america? we take that on. what's the role of african-americans? the spaniard? the french? we take those topics on. and unfortunately much of our history books today have been sort of everything has been dumped into one pot and it's really just sort of a big story without a lot of details. and we've decided we would break those details out because each of those people groups have their own very distinct story. again, they're not all good. a lot of persecution, a lot of lives were lost because of infighting here in america between religious groups. and everybody was fleeing that from europe to come here to get away from it and bam they hit here and here we go again.
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so, that's a lot of the story that doesn't get told. and it's an important part. so we tell that story here. and the tapestry really depicts a lot of that. so now we're arriving and we start -- you can pick anywhere, but we pick the new england, obviously. that's where it all started. and just started going through here with some very key documents. norm, why don't you tell us about a few of these. >> sure. as you mentioned, cary, we're starting in new england, which is where the first colonies were settled. and the artifacts we have included here are basically land deeds or covenants or property ownership that has been granted to the con colonists from the
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king. pennsylvania, as we know, is a colony that was founded primarily to be religiously tolerant of the quakers of the baptists, the catholic and so all were welcome in this particular colony, which eventually as we know the state of pennsylvania. so these are the acts and the laws. again, granted landees given to the colonists showing their ownership. also basically they're also upon the acts and in the laws we're showing how they are using part of the bible to use as their legislation of how that colony would be founded. for instance, over here as we move forward, this is the maryland laws enacted. and it's showing that first of all we know that maryland was established as a catholic colony. and then you can't really see it, but here it's showing
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maryland being one of the very first colonies, first states, to enact a religious toleration act. and it's showing here, though, that if you are blasphemous, the basic punishment, starts off with a mild beating or flogging and goes on to a more severe flogging and then actually you would be thrown out of the colony should you continue with your -- what they consider blasphemous behavior at that time period. >> while we're in this area, might look at one of these specialty cases all down the main aisle. but this takes on those early, early stories of lack of tolerance, slavery that involved enslaving indians, as a commercial trade, and these stories are told through the spanish, the french explorations, christopher columbus and the
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african-american experience. and again, these are all done within time periods. we'll pick up some of these same stories as we keep walking through this area. but these are some of the oldest of the stories. and many of them date back to the foundations of america. i mean, when we look here, some of the stories that related to the spanish stories in america. >> this particular -- actually it's a book, but it's the works of -- his father was actually the second command under christopher columbus. he was granted a large portion of land in cuba. as a result, basically the atlantic slave began here because the cuban people were among the first who would be enslaved. he grew up in a family that were slave owner. he became a monk. as he prepared a sermon, he became convicted according to
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writings that the enslavement of the people was wrong, although culturally cuban people were different and considered barbaric, at least in his eyes, and according to scripture as he read it, they were equal amongst europeans. so he became where he was once an adversary to the cuban people or enslaved people, he then became an advocate, he would start writing to king charles. this is known as history of the destruction of the indians where he was documenting to king charles and appealing to them to release the slavery of the people. eventually they did. this is where they started using africans, bringing blacks from the atlantic and enslaving those people as well. another article which documents what cary talked about, we have the bibles, we know the english
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europeans came and brought king james bible and geneva bible. but we have a spanish bible which we believe would probably have been latin. and then a french bible, french protestants, they would have brought over the geneva bible as well. it is in french language. one of the highlight bibles we have in the museum of the bible, there's only estimated about 18 of these in the world, we have two of them. this is the first bible printed in america. known as the elliott indian bible, john elliott came to america to reach the indigenous people. he learned their language. keep in mind during this time
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period, the people were literate in riting in caves and drawings, but they didn't have a written language. when he used a written bible, he would learn the dialect, develop and translate into their language to reach them to convert them to christianity. the financing of this came from england, the first bible society for the people. this is the first bible printed in america. it is highlighted in the collection. the last thing i want to mention, this bible here. it is known as the slave bible. and it was specifically produced where they removed the story of the exodus so if the bible was presented to a slave, the idea of god delivering them from their bondage which it tells us in the book of exodus was removed, they would not come up
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with a hope for freedom. a bible that's been produced without hope. >> it came out of london, it was printed 1808. it was from the british west indies islands, known as the slave bible. as you mention, comes on loan by fisk university. >> this is an interesting one. on another level in the museum we have a special exhibit, call it amazing grace. story of john newton, wilbur force. it shows other bibles created as a slave bible. this is a great one. we also have another large exhibit for that topic. >> one of the very important influential bibles in america, the bible we're looking at here. the story that's important to know before we talk about the
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bible is that when the puritans and pilgrims, early settlers came to what we know as america today were not allowed to print bibles in the english language. the crown literally held the textual rights to the bible. we talked about the first bible printed in america. second, third and fourth were produced by this man, christopher sour. he was a german immigrant, seeking refuge from religious persecution. he came to america with typeset from the luther foundry. he would produce the first european bible and actually the second bible printed in america. that was in 1743. and when he advertised the bible, he said for the poor, there is no cost.
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so sour was a contemporary to benjamin franklin, they competed against each other. christopher sour was in germantown, pennsylvania, ben franklin was right next door in philadelphia, pennsylvania. the story goes that sour was critical of benjamin franklin's german translation because sour was a german himself. so there's kind of a i don't know if you call it war, there was opposition against the two. the story is reported because of that when sour was buying paper, he was told he had to pay for the paper completely. so when he was ready to produce a second bible in 1763, he went to get the paper and the paper maker said you pay in full or you don't get any at all. christopher sour has a paper mill and prints the first in 1763. then in 1776, typeset is wearing out. his son has taken over the business.
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christopher sour jr. they produced new typeset. they produce this german bible, luther bible, 1743, 1763, and then in 1776, important date in american history they would print the first bible printed in america with american made typeset. but the story is really interesting. according to isiah thomas, also a historical printer, the british during the germantown battle commandeered his printing press, used the bible pages for gun wadding for muskets. this is known as the gun wad bible. similar story in the civil war, they go into a church and use hymnals. sour was a conscientious observer to the war because of his faith, not because he sided with england or america. as a result, they considered him to be potentially a spy.
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he was prosecuted, found innocent, his land taken over by the government. he would never print a bible again. his works would go up here in baltimore, not far from where we are in d.c. here, he printed newspapers and almanacs. the story of christopher sour is really, really interesting. >> we take on because of the time period the bible in education. many know this. some of the great universities were founded upon biblical principle. this one is harvard. 1636. you can read some of the declarations at the time.
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>> as cary was talking, the establishment of harvard and yale, they were universities developed to produce pastors and ministers, to evangelize. this book here comes from cotton mathers, known as mag nelia kristy americana. we have it opened to the story of why harvard was established. so he is talking about that. the broadside is a graduation broadside from 1748, but it is in latin. obviously latin, hebrew, greek which cary was talking about, the valedictorian, even today, give the speech in latin. this is why that is in latin dialect as well. this is a couple hundred years old.
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it is newspaper. not with cotton rag paper. it was important to whoever the owner was at the time, and then the collector who now has this has preserved it and allowed us to use it as an exhibition artifact to tell the story. the other things you may want to peek at, these small books here, it is a long forgotten textbook known as new england primer. this is an actual textbook used in schools going to 1700s, early 1800s, they would use biblical text during education. a quick one, a is for adam. as we enter into impact of the bible in america, we saw a beautiful large shrim which is a complement to the artifacts. talk about the selling to spanish, first settlement, st. augustine in florida, and
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pilgrims and puritans who would settle in the northeast of what we know as america today. the bibles they brought with them. then land deeds and permission to be able to settle as colonies that would be granted from the imperial king or queen at that particular time. then we also have other examples of the bibles they brought with them in america, king james bible, geneva bible. we have the french, which would be protestants, seeking freedom from religious persecution in france as the puritans were seeking refuge from persecution in europe at the time period. also, the first bible printed in america, elion indian bible, a rare bible, tells a dramatic story of puritans that came here to specifically reach the indigenous people. so not only were they presented with at that time, their purpose
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was the gospel, but also now something new would be introduced and this would be literacy. development of their language. an opportunity to -- they would progress in educational perspective. from that we came over and saw the new england primer, textbook used for education and although the museum presents a nonsectarian story, this is part of that story as well. and the very last thing that we have here is william penn. we talked about earlier that pennsylvania was literately established seeking refuge from religious persecution, but not from outside europe, within the colonies themselves. as we imagine, they're seeking refuge, the catholics, the quakers, baptists, anything that opposed ideas of earlier settlers, cary was mentioning,
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he wanted to tell the story of the good, the bad, the ugly. the good, they came looking for refuge from religious persecution. those that came seeking the same, if they had a different idea than theirs, they became the persecuted now. it is an interesting story if you look at it from an honest perspective. >> at this point in time, we sort of end this section. the bible was a key document. people started drifting away. some would say started falling asleep, it became somewhat of a secondary document in people's lives. second section of our tour deals with rebirth or awakening of the bible in america and has an
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amazing story unto itself. that's where we head to next. >> the museum of the bible in washington, d.c. which opened november 17, 2017 has more than 3,000 books and artifacts on exhibit, and the building occupies almost an entire city block.


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