Monday, September 03, 2018

Tragedy at the Brazil National Museum

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Sunday night, the 200 year old Brazil National Museum in Rio de Janeiro caught fire and burned down. The Guardian reports
Brazil’s oldest and most important historical and scientific museum has been consumed by fire, and much of its archive of 20 million items is believed to have been destroyed.

The fire at Rio de Janeiro’s 200-year-old National Museum began after it closed to the public on Sunday and raged into the night. There were no reports of injuries, but the loss to Brazilian science, history and culture was incalculable, two of its vice-directors said.
Photo of the fire from the BBC
Compounding the tragedy are reports that the museum had recently finished a deal with the government for funds that included a fire prevention project. Most of the accounts coming in are that only a tiny portion of the on-site collection survived. It seems that in recent years, the museum has been starved for financial resources and in bad need of upkeep.

I don’t know much about what the collection housed by way of Bible-related artifacts, but Pete Williams shares this on Twitter:
The Twitter user known as Incunabula also shares that the museum’s library, containing nearly half a million volumes, was also engulfed.
If anyone knows of any particular Christian or Bible-related artifacts in the collection, let us know in the comments.

17 comments

  1. Among the Christian and Bible-related artifacts, there was a large collection of Bibles and NT in Portuguese (for example, the Imperial Bible, presented to the king, D Pedro II, by BFBS) and other languages (for example, the Greek NT parchment GA2437). Many of the notes I received on the subject, mention mismanagement of resources: artists receive attention, while invaluable document do not.

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    1. Thank you for that info, Jairo. I see that Elliott’s bibliography lists only one publication for GA 2437: B. M. Metzger, “Uno manuscrito greco dos quatro evangelhos na Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro,” RTSemTBN 2 (1952): 5–10. There are black and white images at the NT.VMR. These may be all we have now.

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    2. Jairo, the VMR says that GA 2437 is housed at the Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil. But it seems that the library that burned was the Biblioteca do Museu Nacional. Are these different? If so, might GA 2437 be fine?

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  2. In fact, the library had color images. I hope its backup works. I also have a color image of it. Yes, when Bruce M. Metzger was professor at Campinas,SP, Brazil; he sent letters to several libraries asking if they had biblical Greek manuscripts. I believe that only that library answered positively.

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    1. So, it was at the Biblioteca do Museu Nacional not the Biblioteca Nacional do Brasil?

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    2. Joffre The Giant9/03/2018 10:35 pm

      The library too.

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    3. Joffre The Giant9/03/2018 10:37 pm

      Oops. Sorry. Right. The museum library, not the national library. The museum itself went up too.

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  3. Joffre The Giant9/03/2018 10:38 pm

    Lost:

    Mainz Bible of 1462
    11th century parchment in Greek on the Gospels.
    Plantin's Polyglot Bible of Antwerp, 1569.

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  4. I believe that the Museu Nacional and the Biblioteca Nacional are located in different locations, both in Rio de Janeiro. So, it appears that only the museum was affected. So, the artifacts in the Biblioteca Nacional could be intact. As soon as I have more accurate infos, I will share it.

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  5. I just confirmed that Biblioteca Nacional (the one which houses many biblical artifacts) was not affected and even the central library (Biblioteca Central) in the museum appears good. I believe then that biblical artifacts are preserved.

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    1. Any information on the fate of the Pergaminhos Ivriim (late 16th to early 19th century Torah scrolls) in the Museu Nacional?

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  6. This underscores why Dan Wallace's CSNTM digital color photography project is sooooo very important (the Muenster films are dated, and mostly monochrome).

    Perhaps now some wealthy grant-making agencies might sit up and take notice.

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  7. http://objdigital.bn.br/acervo_digital/div_manuscritos/mss1289251/mss1289251.pdf

    Link to the color images GA_2437 available on the national library web page.

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  8. According to the note in the link (in Portuguese):
    https://www.cartacapital.com.br/sociedade/pergaminhos-da-tora-escapam-de-incendio-no-museu-nacional

    The Hebrew parchments (pergaminhos Ivriim) are saved! they were transferred to another library before the tragedy! Also, I strongly agree with the Maurice Robinson's point!

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