More than a thousand Bibles from hundreds of countries are on display in CaixaForum Madrid, Spain from June 27 to September 1.
Called “The Bible, a journey through the languages of the world,” the free exhibit of 1,600 Bibles highlights the rich languages in the world and the vital role the Bible plays in language conservation, reports Evangelical Focus.
Western civilization is built upon Christianity, and its foundations are the Bible. —Pere Roquet, Bible collector
The Bibles are owned by Andorran collector Pere Roquet who started his collection in 1995. The project started when a missionary in Kenya gave Roquet a New Testament written in Turkana, an Eastern Nilotic language spoken by almost one million people. Since then, for 25 years, Roquet was able to obtain 1,593 volumes of Bibles in more than 1,900 languages, including those written in extinct or endangered languages.
The Bible collector believes that, “Western civilization is built upon Christianity, and its foundations are the Bible.”
Roquet stressed the importance of the Bible as a vessel to keep a language alive. He explained that for some communities, “the Bible is sometimes the only printed record that a language has.” Even if the language is dead, the Bible is proof of the language’s existence. He said, “For 35% of these 1,900 languages, the Bible is their only book.”
Bibles written in endangered languages are included in the exhibit—a Bible in Manx, a Celtic language, and in Itelmen, the language of the Russian Kamchatka peninsula. These languages are only spoken by a few elderly, but are slowly being revived through schooling.
Some of the unique Bibles in the exhibition include the Scriptures written in its original languages: Hebrew and Greek. There is also the Septuagint Bible, a Greek translation believed to be used by the first Christians.
The exhibit also displays a North Korean Bible. In a country where having a Bible is a crime punishable by death, this Bible was created to be hidden from prying eyes. Christians in South Korea sent small and light Bibles using balloons and the books have no title on the cover.
In 2006, Voice of the Martyrs started its Bible balloon launches to send thousands of Bibles and other Christian materials into North Korea, according to Mission Network News.
However, the South Korean government ordered VOM to stop all balloon launches in 2018. The US and North Korea summit was ongoing and South Korea didn’t want anything to jeopardize the peace talks.
“What we’re facing now is a complete blockade for balloon launches and the justification for it that the South Korean government is giving to us is that is, ‘fouls the air for peace.’ And what they mean by that is the North Korean government doesn’t like balloon launches,” explained Eric Foley with Voice of the Martyrs Korea.
Since the Bible Balloon launch, the Christian charity has seen an increase in percentage of North Koreans to see a Bible, from 0.2% to 10%.