'A Bible nation from the beginning': A preview of Washington's controversial $500M Museum of the Bible

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In Jesus' interactive Nazareth village, audio engineers were sound-checking a chorus of bleating sheep. Downstairs, plush lions from Noah's Ark were being unboxed for display in the gift shop. On the outdoor Biblical Garden, an ersatz Tree of Life swayed languidly in the breeze outside Manna, the Israeli-inspired restaurant.

The new Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., opens Friday. And when the first visitors flock through its 12-metre-tall bronze Gutenberg Gates bearing the words of Genesis in Latin, organizers hope not just to enlighten crowds; they aim to silence doubts about the cultural venue's existential purpose.

The $500-million US exhibition space is billed as a 430,000-square-foot repository of artifacts with a modest goal: To help the public understand an ancient text and nothing more.




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