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Ancient Prayer Book Highlights Judeo-Christian Heritage

09-19-2014
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JERUSALEM, Israel -- A rare Jewish prayer book is on display for the first time ever. It is part of an exhibit highlighting the Jewish-Christian heritage of the Bible and the Jewish roots of Christianity.

The 1,200-year-old Hebrew text can be seen at the in Jerusalem.

"It touches the hearts and souls of every Jew everywhere in Israel, everywhere in the world because it is the oldest known document, written document of a prayer book," said Amanda Weiss, director of the Bible Lands Museum.

CBN News received a private look at the prayer book as it arrived for exhibition.

"This is part of their heritage and we are excited to bring it here and we are excited to be able to do a lot more study on it because it's part of their tradition," said Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and chairman of the Museum of the Bible, which will one day house the Green Family Collection of biblical artifacts.

The prayer book will be part of a larger exhibit called "The Book of Books," which includes some of the most important biblical texts ever seen in Israel.

Most of the exhibit comes from the Green family, who owns one of the largest collections of biblical artifacts in the world. It traces the written word from the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Gutenberg Bible and beyond.

"It tells us about roots of history of the Jewish people, which obviously is where Christian foundation is built upon, Hebrew scripture," Green told CBN News.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu viewed the ancient book before its unveiling and became one of the few people to ever read from it.

"This prayer book is a most important find," Netanyahu said at his office. "It is written in Hebrew and contains the prayers that the people of Israel say to this very day. It is a connection between our past and our present and that is something of great value."

Green also presented Netanyahu with a rare parchment from his collection of religious texts as a gift. It was originally found in the Cairo Geniza, the parchment dates from the 12th and13th centuries. It includes a dialogue written in Arabic about the relationship between man and his Creator.

Weiss said the book was dated by carbon-14 testing to the year 820 and there's still a lot to learn about it.

"We know it comes from the Middle East for sure," she said.

The 50-page compilation was written by four different scribes. It is opened to the Shacharit prayer. Based in large part on the Book of Psalms and other scriptures, it's the same prayer Jewish people around the world still pray in the morning.

Prayers like, "Bless the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting and let all the people say, 'Amen. Halleluyah!'"

"It helps them understand more of its roots," Green said.

Interest in "The Book of Books" exhibit has been overwhelming.

"I have never experienced an exhibition so globally appreciated by everyone that's seen it," Weiss told CBN News.

With the condition of the world today in mind, Green said the message of the Bible is more important than ever.

"There's not a better time than today than to have people take a look at this book," Green explained. "When you have a book that says that the summation of this book is to love God and to love one another, I think that's a message for this world today and has been a message for the world since the beginning."

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