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Biblical Artifact Collection Names Bethel Professor Executive Director

University Professor Michael Holmes will lead Museum of the Bible’s branch of scholarly research.

The Museum of the Bible recently announced new positions within the organization, naming Bethel’s University Professor Michael Holmes as the new executive director of the Green Scholars Initiative.

The Green Scholars Initiative is a branch of the Museum of the Bible focused on research of biblical artifacts from the Green Collection. This announcement comes as the organization plans its expansion with a 430,000-square-foot museum to house The Green Collection. The Green family, founders of Hobby Lobby, Inc., started the Green Collection in 2009. The collection of biblical artifacts has grown to more than 40,000 pieces, portions of which will continue as traveling exhibitions around the world. The rest will be housed in the museum, scheduled to open fall of 2017 in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the Capitol and Mall.

As executive director, Holmes will provide oversight and direction to the program. Using the network of scholars and institutions, he will connect the researchers with pieces from the Green Collection needing further study. He will work with six regional directors throughout the United States and Europe to grow the network of participating scholars and institutions and connect those scholars with research opportunities.

“[The Green Scholars Initiative] is the only effort of its kind to involve undergrad and graduate students in firsthand, primary research of biblical artifacts,” says Holmes. The program provides external consultants as resources during the scholarship process, but “it provides an opportunity to expand the field past experts.”

One of the remarkable features of the program is that participating scholars are loaned the actual artifacts for thorough study. Researchers initially receive a copy for preliminary study before eventually being able to study the artifact itself.

That was how Holmes became involved with the Museum of the Bible in 2011, when he and two students took on the study of papyrus fragments believed to be one of the two oldest surviving copies of 1 Corinthians. At the time, Bethel was the second institution to receive artifacts onsite. Scholarship from their research is slated for publication next year. Partnerships with scholars and researchers have expanded to include more than 60 universities worldwide.

Holmes has accepted this position in addition to his full-time teaching load within the Department of Biblical and Theological Studies.

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