T he Green Co llect ion
arts & entertainment
World's oldest siddur slated for future D.C. Bible museum.
he discovery of the oldest Jewish
siddur (prayer book) ever found
has set off a flurry of attention on
ancient religious texts. Dating back to 840
C.E., the siddur sheds new light on medieval
Judaism and the continuity of Jewish tradi-
tions over time.
Currently part of Hobby Lobby President
Steven Green's Green Collection, the larg-
est private collection of biblical texts and
artifacts in the world, the siddur and the rest
of the collection will be donated to the as-
yet-unnamed international Bible museum in
Washington, D.C., slated to open in 2017.
Jerry Pattengale — assistant provost at
Indiana Wesleyan University and director of
the Green Scholars Initiative, the research
arm of the Green Collection — spoke
to JNS.org about the discovery of the ancient
siddur, Jewish-Christian relations and the
upcoming Bible museum.
Q: What are some of your responsibili-
ties at the Green Scholars Initiative?
A: My role is to put together the research
teams and programs as well as interface with
other academic institutions. We have 90 pro-
fessors involved in more than 60 universities
and a number of museums as well. I also
administrate all of our lecture series across
the world. We have had nearly 100 scholarly
lectures in the past four years.
Q: What is the story behind the ancient
siddur? How did the Green Collection
come into possession of the book?
A: In short, since 2008, many families
that had collections for many decades have
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ing Paul Rudd, 44,
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36 December 19 • 2013
started to offer major items for sale due to
the economic downturn. When we started
purchasing items from different collections,
we became bombarded by people looking
to sell their stuff. Often we get unique calls
because they are convinced of what we are
doing. Mr. Green is giving all of this to the
museum. He is not buying to collect it; he is
giving it all away.
In this particular case, a family called and
wanted to offer it to us. They knew it was
valuable and how meaningful it would be to
a lot of different traditions. It wasn't until we
started our research on it that [we learned]
it was the earliest Jewish prayer book ever
Q: How was the date of the book's ori-
A: When we realized what we were look-
ing at, we decided it would be best to car-
bon-date it. We removed two small sections
from the book non-invasively and sent them
to two separate labs. They did not know
what they were testing; it was a double-blind
test. Both results came back with a date of
840 C.E. Our scholars had originally dated
it to 850 C.E. The whole process was very
Q: What contents of the siddur would
modern Jews find familiar, and what
would they find different?
A: It has services for the Sabbath and the
100 blessings, which you would find in most
modern prayer books. That alone makes it
relevant to most Jewish communities and
something they would recognize right away.
There is also the liturgy in there for Passover
and the Song of Songs poem for Sukkot.
I think something a lot of people would be
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or online for free.
Bree, the 18-year-old daughter of
two moms, decides she wants to find
out more about her biological father,
The oldest Jewish siddur ever found is part
of the Green Collection, which will be donated
to the future international Bible Museum in
interested in is the poem on the end
of times or the apocalyptic text. This
is a story that was very popular at the
time, but we don't see often anymore.
Finally, there is a unique section at the
end that we are calling the "Salvation for
Q: The Green Collection/Scholars
Initiative is largely connected with
Evangelical Christians. What role does
the Green Initiative play in that interfaith
A: The Green Scholars Initiative is the
research arm of the Green Collection and
attempts to remain objective in its research
initiative. There is no religious requirement
for involvement. We have various scholars
from different religious traditions and/or
sects within them.
While we attempt not to recruit scholars
that are predisposed critically against a view,
our efforts have been to have top scholars
as the main consultants over projects and
capable scholars working on items.
Given the nature of our collection, it's only
sensible that the vast majority of interested
parties are Jewish and Christian.
Q: Do you feel that the Green Initiative
helps to bring Jews and Christians closer
A: Certainly. Many of our scholars either
studied in Israel or with Jewish scholars in
the U.S., or are Jewish scholars who have
studied with key scholars of Christianity.
The Green Scholars Initiative, through the
generosity of the Green family, funded the
workshop at the Israel Museum last year on
conservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls and
early papyri texts. This was a wonderful
an anonymous donor to a sperm
bank. She and her 15 half-siblings in
families scattered around the coun-
try have long known of each other's
They also know their biological
father was born in Oakland, Calif.,
and is Jewish. Her first visit is to two
half-siblings in Atlanta, who are mem-
bers of a religious Jewish family. As I
write this, it looks like Bree, aided by
some of her half-siblings, will locate
and meet the donor.
So Long, Farewell
The obits for actress Eleanor Parker,
who died on Dec.10 at age 91, all
mentioned her three 1950s Oscar
nominations as well as her praised
educational event for a mix of scholars from
these faith traditions.
The current exhibit at the Bible Lands
Museum [in Jerusalem] is also a joint proj-
ect, as well as the items on exhibit from the
Green Collection with the Gabriel Stone at
the Israel Museum. Also, the Greens have
made very serious purchases from Sotheby's,
Christie's and key collectors that include
important items for both the Jewish and
Christian faith traditions.
Q: Will you also be involved in the upcom-
ing D.C. Bible museum? Can you tell me
a bit more about what future visitors can
expect to see there?
A: Besides an investment in the hundreds
of millions of dollars to preserve and share
the history, story and impact of the Jewish
and Christian texts, and the huge investment
for continued research and resources, the
museum will also have a space offered to
Israeli institutions for display.
The museum is offering three spaces of
around 12,000 square feet to three major
world museums, in addition to a major
space for rotating exhibits.
This is still in negotiations, but we have
been in contact early on with a Jewish insti-
tution, offering this wonderful opportunity
to have a special presence a few blocks from
the U.S. Capitol.
One thing that also is often lost in this
is that the Green family is giving all of the
items to the museum. They are not col-
lectors. They are doing this for the public
the Baroness in the
1965 film version of
The Sound of Music.
her conversion to
occurred near the
time of her 1966
marriage to Raymond Hirsch, a
Shubert Theater manager who was
her husband until his 2001 death.
In 1969, she said: "I think we're all
Jews at heart. I know I have always
felt more Jewish than anything else.
I wanted to convert for a long time."
(Parker's second husband, the father
of three of four of her children, also
was Jewish.) ❑