An Afternoon Spent with Ancient Treasure

A museum full of wonders links generations past and present.

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Posted in Jun 9, 2017

Treasures at a museum

As a kid, I was fascinated by buried treasure. Probably because I’d watched one too many Disney movies where hidden caverns filled with untold treasures figured heavily into the plot. Not to mention all those Indiana Jones movies. How cool it’d be, I always thought, to be a treasure seeker or keeper.

So I was intrigued when I got an email from the Center for Jewish History in Manhattan that said “500 Years of Treasure from Oxford” in the subject line. “Ooh,” I thought. “Treasure!” I clicked the email open and read that treasures from Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford would be on display in the U.S. for the first time ever at the Yeshiva University Museum at the Center for Jewish History. I responded “yes” to the email invitation, curious to see if there were any “mysterious ways” stories that might come out of the exhibit.

I stopped by the Center for Jewish History one Friday during lunchtime and found a number of wondrous items. A 12th century Ashkenazi siddur, a book of ancient prayers. A private letter from Sir Isaac Newton. And the most gorgeous illuminated manuscripts.

I found myself drawn to one item in particular. The Book of Psalms from the 13th century. There was nothing particularly mysterious about it. But I couldn’t stop studying it.

Read More: The Art of Wonder

The Psalms is my absolute favorite book of the Bible. There was just something about seeing such an old copy of it up close. I couldn’t help but think about all those who came before me who relied on that book for comfort and reassurance.

And how it’s been a treasure to so many, including me (even if my version of it didn’t come from any cavern, but straight from my iPhone). In that respect, I guess I became a treasure seeker and keeper after all! 

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