Inside take on a Folger, Bodleian, and Ransom Center exhibition on the creation and afterlife of the King James Bible on the 400th anniversary of its publication.

Manifold Greatness at Whitworth University: A Community Effort

A display of Bibles, including one owned by George Whitworth, the founder of Whitworth University, and certificates for recording births, deaths, and marriages. Courtesy Whitworth University.

As Whitworth University Library prepares to pack up the Manifold Greatness exhibit, we have the opportunity to reflect on the community support we have received. Our community partners, and the people who visited the exhibition, have truly made Manifold Greatness at Whitworth University a success!

The Spokane County Library district , which partnered with Whitworth to promote the Manifold Greatness exhibition, hosted programs related to the Bible and Culture at two of their branch libraries. A speaker from Whitworth University asked for audience input about the Biblical themes portrayed in advertising. Audiences were surprised to learn that in some Jewish traditions, Cain is considered the son of Eve and the serpent (the serpent seed), rather than the son of Adam and Eve. This interpretation comes into play in an advertisement for Smirnoff Green Apple Twist, in which the serpent (a female) appears to be seducing Adam.

Gonzaga University Library’s Special Collections contributed items for the Manifold Greatness exhibit room. One such item is a Franklin Mint reproduction of the Thompson Medallic Bible, a group of 60 sterling silver medals depicting famous artists’ rendering of Biblical stories on one side and accompanying scripture (text from the King James Bible) on the other side.

Reproduction of the Thompson Medallic Bible. Image courtesy of Whitworth University.

The Spokane Public Library’s Northwest History Room hosted a display entitled “Early Religious Texts,” showcasing a collection of rare Bibles, psalm books, and other religious tools and texts.  The collection includes a 1475 transcript of Peter Lombard’s Four Books of Sentences, complete with chains to ensure it would not be stolen. The Four Books of Sentences was a classic theology textbook in medieval universities.

Whitworth University Library’s Special Collections displayed a Bible used by traveling salespeople to show customers the many customizable features available to them. There are sample covers and sample leather colors in addition to the illustrations, concordances, and other features included in the Bible. The Bible contains a ledger in which the salesperson can keep an accounting of the names of people who ordered a Bible and how much they agreed to pay. One of the sample covers matches the cover of a Bible owned by George Whitworth, the founder of Whitworth University.

We have been fortunate to have church groups (some who traveled more than 100 miles!), school groups, and retirement community groups view the exhibit and attend programs. This, of course, is in addition to the campus community, including faculty, staff, and students. The exhibition’s schedule gives Whitworth University an additional opportunity to reach a wider audience on the eve of  Commencement with families of graduating students, alumni groups, and trustees also on campus. The exhibit is richer as a result of the community involvement and support we have received. Thank you to all who have contributed and spread the word about Manifold Greatness: The Creation and Afterlife of the King James Bible at Whitworth University!

Amy C. Rice is an Instructor/ Coordinator of Technical Services & Systems at Harriet Cheney Cowles Memorial Library at Whitworth University.

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