It's the most banned, burned and debated book, but it's also considered by many as the most influential book. Now, one Oklahoman is bringing a new coming attraction dedicated to this single book - the Bible.
"We really can only scratch the surface on telling the Bible story," said Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green.
Green says he has had a love for the Bible for as long as he can remember.
"I just had been taught growing up that the Bible was a book we patterned our lives after and our business after," he said.
The Green's successful Oklahoma-based business enabled the family to secure one of the world's largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts, known as the Green Collection. Green purchased his first biblical artifact in 2009 and never dreamed his collection would grow to more than 40,000 pieces.
"As our collection grew, the family just felt a sense of responsibility that we own this collection, we need to be good stewards of it," Green said.
That responsibility has led the family to Washington, D.C., where they plan to share their collection with the world. In 2012, the family purchased a historic building for $50 million, located just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The former refrigeration warehouse and interior design showcase site is being restored, adapted and enhanced to create the newest addition to D.C.'s pantheon of museums, The Museum of the Bible.
"What we're doing here is essentially making a museum of museums, which is appropriate for the book of books," said Dan Murphy, Principal at The PRD Group. http://www.theprdgroup.com/
A book with a history so rich, 12 creative design teams are assigned to work on the three central exhibit floors -- that will interactively tell the impact, narrative and history of the Bible.
"One thing that's been compelling for all of us is we're just really trying to create access to the Bible, give people different ways to give the Bible a chance and once we can engage them through the exhibits, we think what they will find, on their own, is a story that's going to change their lives," Murphy said.
The museum also will feature a 200-foot LED ceiling in the lobby with changing murals, an interactive video recording booth and top floor views of the National Mall and Memorials. The museum's critics say its location is no accident, just a short walk to the Supreme Court and U.S. Capitol Hill.
"Some have used that as a negative 'oh you just did it because of Congress,' I think for Congress to understand the foundation of our nation is biblical is a good thing, you know, to educate Congress, but it's not just Congress that's there, the world comes to DC, we can have influence on people all over the world by a museum in Washington, D.C.," said Green.
Dr. John Harrison is a professor of the New Testament at Oklahoma Christian University and says the museum will offer a unique opportunity for people of all faiths and cultures.
"It does have a very rich history in terms of its construction," Harrison said. "Scholars from all stripes, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, you know all of them can't appreciate historically what we have here and just having an opportunity to be able to see a firsthand look at some of these artifacts," Harrison said.
Green says he extends that invitation to explore the history of the Bible to the world.
"We want to invite all people to engage with this book," Green said. "There are certain lines that we don't cross. This is not a faith venture, it's a fact venture. I think people will become believers in this book, not because I say so, because the evidence is overwhelming."
The plans also include a restaurant featuring biblical foods.
Find out more about the Museum of the Bible here: http://www.museumofthebible.org/
The museum of the bible is scheduled to open in November 2017 amid some controversy, though.
In recent weeks, News 9 has learned about allegations claiming the Green family purchased hundreds of ancient clay tablets and illegally imported them from the Middle East.
As for the federal investigation, Hobby Lobby released this statement:
"Hobby Lobby is cooperating with the investigation related to certain biblical artifacts. The Museum of the Bible is a separate not-for-profit entity made possible, in part, by the generous charitable contributions of the Green family."