Hobby Lobby president Green urges Christians to see Bible exhibit in Jerusalem

The Book of Books exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum in the capital opens to the public on Thursday.

STEVE GREEN, president of Hobby Lobby Stores 370 (photo credit: Steve Linde)
STEVE GREEN, president of Hobby Lobby Stores 370
(photo credit: Steve Linde)
The Book of Books exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum, which opens to the public on Thursday, should encourage more Christians to visit the Holy Land, the exhibit’s primary patron said on Wednesday.
Steve Green, president of American craft store chain Hobby Lobby, flew to Israel with his wife, Jackie, for the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday evening.
“I think there is a certain desire amongst Christians to visit Israel, and Jerusalem specifically, and hopefully this exhibit will give them the motivation to come and see the land that Jesus walked,” Green told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview.
The exhibition, which runs until May 24, includes a spectacular collection of manuscripts in cave-like rooms showcasing the interconnection between Judaism and Christianity, offering iPads for visitors to interact with ancient texts.
“That’s really cool,” Green said, as Bible Lands Museum director Amanda Weiss showed him the iPad for the Gutenberg Bible.
Among the other items on display are the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, a Greek-Aramaic manuscript containing the Old and New Testaments, the first color megilla and a 5-meter-long codex.
Asked what prompted the exhibit, Green – a devout Baptist who has six children and two grandchildren – said the answer was to be found in the Bible.
“We have operated our businesses on the Bible, and we have raised our family according to the Bible,” he said. “We started with a Bible collection to tell the story of the Bible, which obviously brought us to Israel, and working with the Bible Lands Museum was an exciting opportunity for us to have the exhibit here, sharing the story of the Bible.”
Hobby Lobby, the company Green’s father, David, started, employs some 20,000 people in more than 500 stores in 40 states across the US.
The Oklahoma-based firm was recently in the news when a blogger named Ken Berwitz reported that a Jewish friend had asked a salesperson at a Hobby Lobby store why it didn’t sell Hanukka items, and was purportedly told, “We don’t cater to you people.”
Green downplayed the incident, saying it certainly did not represent his family or his company.
“Whether the comment was ever made, we just don’t know,” Green told the Post. “We could not confirm it. And even if it was made, it doesn’t represent our family or our business, because we’ve always had an appreciation for the Jewish tradition and the Jewish faith, and feel like we have an affinity as Christians for the Jewish people. I think that people realize the involvement that we’ve had with Israel; they realize there’s no merit to the story.”
Asked on what he based his love for Israel, he said, “We believe that God entrusted the Israelite people with his word, and they faithfully, through their tradition, transcribed that Scripture throughout history, and the story of how they meticulously cared for that word, I think, is a story that needs to be told.”
Green said he and his wife had spent their first day in Israel on Wednesday walking through the Old City, including the Via Dolorosa, and he described it as “a very informative and exciting day, with beautiful weather and a great guide.”
He explained that “our message is similar to the message of the Bible Lands Museum, and that is for people to engage, to know the Scriptures, to know what has been given to us through the Jewish tradition, and the more people know about the Scriptures, the better, and hopefully, the more they will be engaged with God’s word.”