First Bible Museum Opens in Manila

Manila Bulletin, September 11, 2010 | Go to article overview
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First Bible Museum Opens in Manila


In the Philippines, God essentially spoke first in Pangalatok when the first translation of the Gospel of Luke was completed in 1873. A Spanish Dominican priest, Fr. Manrique Alonzo Lallave, assigned in Pangasinan, translated the Gospel of Luke from a Spanish Bible. His translation, which was eventually published in London in 1887, made Pangasinan the first province to hear and read the gospel in its own tongue.This translation, which has been integrated into the complete Pangalatok Bible, is now on display, along with other translations in various Philippine languages, in the first and only Bible Museum in the Philippines located at the 2nd Floor of the Philippine Bible Society (PBS) Ministry Facility at United Nations Avenue in Manila.According to Dr. Anicia del Corro, linguistics professor and consultant of the United Bible Societies, she presented the concept paper of a Bible Museum to the PBS Board of Directors in 2003. Through research, funding, consultations with professionals, and the concerted efforts of the PBS community, the PBS Bible Museum was formally opened to the public last March 12, 2010. It was a response to the challenge of making the Bible alive, understanding its origin, and sparking interest in biblical reading and research. 4,000 years for P10.00With only P10.00 entrance fee, museum patrons are regaled with beautiful ceiling tapestry reflecting Hebrew nomadic culture and art. A welcome message warmly invites visitors to experience a 4,000-year- old adventure with God's word which extends with the translation of the Bible into different languages.The tour guide directs your attention to several panels that describe the development of the Old Testament from Abraham until the 10th century B.C.E. or the beginning of Biblical writing. At this point, a three-minute documentary video on the making of papyrus is presented. Patrons are allowed to hold, touch, feel, and even smell a real papyrus.Paul of Tarsus in ManilaA life-size figure of St. Paul seated and in the act of writing never fails to amaze visitors for its realistic portrayal. The figure was allegedly based on scientific research on the actual physical features of St. Paul. In fact, the Vatican has recently declared the authenticity of the bones found in Rome which bolsters the museum's claim that this is how St. Paul must have looked like.Several more panels help visitors to understand how the books of the Bible were copied by hand and subsequently translated. The guide explains several criteria which determine the canonicity of a book: if it could be traced to an apostle (apostolicity), widely used by the churches, and adhered to the orthodox teachings of Christianity.The replica of the Qumran cave is another attractive feature of the museum. Both Paul's life-size figure and the cave are made from resin. A local company was commissioned to the delicate job of producing a professional finish. To add a touch of authenticity, the cave shows several broken vases that supposedly contained the Dead Sea Scrolls.Translations galoreNear the cave is a door that leads to a Bible display room that also doubles as an audio-visual room. Among the collector's items exhibited are the King James English Bible published in 1816 and the 1888 Gospel of John in Pangalatok. A video presentation narrates the history of Bible translations in the country through the initiative of the British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) and American Bible Society (ABS).Don Isabelo de los Reyes among the first translatorsThe British and Foreign Bible Society (BFBS) commissioned the translation of some books of the Bible into major Philippine languages based on the modern Spanish Bible. BFBS also tapped distinguished Filipinos based in Madrid as translators. The Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles were translated by Don Pascual Poblete into Tagalog while Don Isabelo de los Reyes translated the Gospel according to Luke into Ilocano. The Gospel of Luke in Bicolano was translated by Don Cayetano Lukban.

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