At a chapel service Oct. 8, faculty and students of Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Mich., thanked sculptor Nicholas Kroeze for creating a display case for the school’s Torah scroll, a gift received this past April. Kroeze, a past president of Kuyper and award-winning sculptor of wood, created the case with olive wood from Israel. The pasul (non-kosher) scroll was a gift from Ken and Barb Larson through the couple’s nonprofit organization God's Ancient Library. The first five books of the Bible are handwritten on the velum scroll, measuring about 100 feet.
Daniel Kroeze, professor of Biblical Studies at Kuyper, shared with The Banner a few details about the scroll. It’s estimated to be 200 years old and would have taken about a year to produce. It likely originated in Eastern Europe, was used in synagogue services, survived the Holocaust, and eventually was brought to Israel. Likely in transit, the scroll was damaged, which, due to Judaism’s strict standards for the representation of scripture, rendered it pasul, or non-kosher. That meant it was no longer fit for synagogue use but ideal for Christian classrooms, Daniel Kroeze said.
God’s Ancient Library has given more than 50 scrolls to Christian institutions that “place a high value on scripture … to enhance students' interest in the Hebrew language and challenge them to go deeper in their study of the Scripture,” said Judy Wicklund, who works as an executive assistant for the organization.
Patricia Harris, current president of Kuyper College, is grateful for the opportunity for students to engage with biblical Hebrew beyond slides and textbooks. “You can appreciate the care ... the history and the people (behind the work),” she said.
For example, despite meticulous copying procedures, personal details can be discerned in the scroll. Each time “Yahweh” was written, Harris said, the scribe placed decorative markings in the margin, to denote holiness.
The scroll, in its case, will be kept in Kuyper College’s Zondervan Library.
About the Author
Emily Joy Stroble is a graduate of Calvin College, art maker, mocha drinker, and reader of many books. A regular contributor to The Banner and perpetual student of the world, Emily lives in Grand Rapids, Mich.