Original sin

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Science  20 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6361, pp. 295-297
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6361.295

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Next month, the lavish Museum of the Bible will open its doors in Washington, D.C., just a stone's throw from the Smithsonian castle and the U.S. Capitol. The grandiose new venture is bankrolled by the Greens, the billionaire family that owns the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores. The Greens, who are evangelical Christians, have donated to the museum hundreds of artifacts purchased on the antiquities market, which brims with looted material and forgeries. Scholars worry that the museum will use such artifacts to further an evangelical view of the Bible as historically accurate and immutable, and they wonder how many items in the museum's collection may have been looted from archaeological sites. Meanwhile, the Museum of the Bible is trying to establish itself as a legitimate academic enterprise by hiring respected scholars as curators and consultants. Science visited the museum to try to discover whether its changes are more than skin deep.