(photo credit: NATIONAL LIBRARY OF ISRAEL)
A new exhibition called The Book of Books in the House of Books opened Tuesday at the National Library of Israel, featuring Bible-related treasures spanning cultures and centuries.
One item on display – a note David Ben-Gurion penned to Prof. Samuel Hugo Bergmann, a renowned philosopher and close friend of both Franz Kafka and Martin Buber – sheds light on the beliefs of Israel’s founding father.
After expressing his respect for “believers,” Ben-Gurion wrote in the Hebrew note that the story of creation in Genesis cannot possibly be accepted as historical fact because no one was there to witness it.
"I reject the atheists… It is impossible to think of any rule or order in nature without first assuming that outside of man there is a loftier, sublime intellect that we are unable to grasp," he wrote, adding that attempts to describe that unknowable creative force are "naive haughtiness, arrogant pretense of a small creature towards its 'creator'." Ben-Gurion added that while prayer may be a necessary "outpouring of the soul" for some, it is certainly not a dialog and to think of it as such is simply "self-deception".
Other items on display include a page of the Gutenberg Bible, the first mass-printed book in history; a "Damascus Crown" Bible produced in Spain in 1260; a stunning miniature Christian Bible handwritten and illuminated for the use of traveling monks in the 13th century; several rare illustrated Islamic manuscripts depicting the story of Joseph, and a Hebrew Bible printed in Portugal in 1491, among the first Hebrew printed books.