Last week El Jefe and I had were privileged to have an invitation to preview "The Birth of Christianity, A Jewish Story" exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science because his law firm is one of the sponsors of the exhibit.
It was a great evening. Our friend Dr. Weston Fields, Director of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, and one of the curators of the exhibit, acted as our guide through the artifacts and manuscripts on display.
Those attending seemed to be evenly divided between Christians and Jews, including a number of Israeli officials and the Israeli consul to Houston. It was fascinating to hear a Jewish man in the group giving a tour to a group of his friends. He stopped in front of the Galatians manuscript and gave a brief lecture about "Rabbi Paul", concluding that in his opinion Rabbi Paul was responsible for the creation of Christianity. An opinion shared by many Christian scholars as well!The most compelling parts of the display, IMHO, are:
1. One of the earliest known manuscripts of the Christmas story from the oldest known Gospel of Luke. What a thrill to see this during the Advent season and think about the many centuries that the faithful have gathered to hear those inspiring words!
2. The earliest manuscript of the Letter to the Galatians, which most scholars believe to be the first book of the New Testament written. The Greek text is so clear that I could read it...if I could read Greek.
3. An ossuary inscribed "Alexander, son of Simon of Cyrene". An ossuary is a box containing the bones of a deceased person. See Mark 15:21:
" A certain man of Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing on his way from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross." (NIV)
The exhibit will be open through April 12, 2009. If you live in the greater Houston area or will be in town during that time, get thee hence to the museum and see it! And bring your friends and family, too.