Half of the fun of going to the Museum of the Bible is you never know if what you’re looking at is real, fake or stolen. It keeps you on your toes. This week, for example, Museum of the Bible leadership is headed to Greece, where they will return a handwritten Gospel to its rightful place.
Known as “Evangelistary Manuscript 220,” the manuscript is one of the oldest handwritten Gospels in existence and was among many objects looted by Bulgarian troops from the Theotokos Eikosiphoinissa (Kosinitza) Monastery in 1917 during World War I. The Museum of the Bible has had the document on display since 2014, but informed Patriarch Bartholomew that they planned to return it in 2020. The patriarch allowed them to keep it on display until now as a gesture of thanks for voluntarily returning the document to where it belongs.
“It is a true blessing for the monastic sisterhood and the Christian world to see the religious artifacts that were removed from the Monastery officially return to their natural home and used hereafter for the spiritual edification of the faithful, and by art and history scholars,” the patriarch said in a statement, according to the Christian Post.
“Now, this manuscript can tell a new story,” agreed the Museum of the Bible Chief Curatorial Officer Jeffrey Kloha. “A story of reunion and hope that the pages of this manuscript will continue to give light, even though many have tried to extinguish that light.”
Last year, the Museum of the Bible gave control of 5,000 artifacts up to the U.S. Government, which in turn returned them to Egypt, where most of them were thought to have been taken from during Arab Spring. After several years of unfortunate headlines that found the Museum of the Bible leadership having to apologize for forgeries or return artifacts, the organization is turning over a new leaf. Let’s hope more museums follow suit.