About the Bible Museum

The Bible Museum of the University of Münster is located in the heart of the city near the cathedral. It tells the story of the Bible - from its handwritten beginnings to the present day. The museum is affiliated with the Institute for New Testament Text Research. Here, the original text of the Greek New Testament is researched on the basis of the earliest manuscripts. The breadth and depth of the exhibition is thus unique in the world. Throughout the year there are changing exhibitions, which are prepared and presented by a young team.


St. John the Evangelist, 13th century
St. John the Evangelist, 13th century
© Bibelmuseum Münster

The permanent exhibition of the museum is divided into six thematic areas:

  • History of the Bible and materiality: Exhibits from the Old Testament period show the history of the Bible's creation. Since the Bible is a traditional text, the biblical stories have been recorded on different materials, which are presented here.
  • Work with the manuscripts in the 16th-21st centuries: The original Greek text of the New Testament is not preserved. Only later copies are known. Since the 16th century, the text has been researched in its original languages; this work continues to this day in the Institute for New Testament Text Research, to which the Bible Museum is affiliated.
  • Luther: The 15th and 16th centuries brought groundbreaking changes. Most notably, the invention of the printing press, Luther's translation of the Bible into German, and the Reformation.
  • Tradition: Caused by the Reformation, various German Bible translations with different texts and traditions of transmission emerged.
  • Multilingualism:The production of books becomes more affordable in the 18th century, so that more people can afford a Bible. Today, the Bible is the most translated book in the world.
  • Popularized Bibles: Even early manuscripts were colorfully decorated, and even today Bibles contain a wide variety of illustrations. There are picture Bibles for families and children. References to the Bible and the biblical stories can even be found in popular culture media.

The exhibition focuses on the Greek New Testament and the German Bible. Over 1,500 exhibits illustrate how the Bible and its textual tradition have developed over time. Among the highlights of the collection is a Luther Bible with a dedication by the reformer from the last days of his life.

Greek manuscript: GA798, 10. c.
Greek manuscript: GA798, 10. c.
© Bibelmuseum Münster

"Detectives at God's Word": in search of the original text

The Bible Museum is part of the Institute for New Testament Text Research (INTF) at the University of Münster. Here, a team of scientists is working to reconstruct the original text of the Greek New Testament.

This calls for detective-like intuition: the researchers are investigating the question of what the exact wording of the Greek New Testament originally looked like. The question arises because all original manuscripts of the 27 New Testament books have been lost. Only copies from later centuries have survived, some of which show considerable differences. These are due to different interpretations of the text, errors in copying, or even deliberate "improvements" by the copyists.

The editions of the Greek New Testament reconstructed in Münster (Nestle-Aland, GNT, ECM) are used today by all major churches and scientific educational institutions worldwide. In addition, they form the basis for almost all modern Bible translations.

© Bibelmuseum Münster

Exhibits and themes

  • Earliest Greek manuscripts on papyrus, parchment and paper
  • Representative printed editions of the Greek New Testament
  • Bible illustrations by famous painters such as Hans Holbein the Younger or Marc Chagall
  • The history of the German Bible: from pre-Lutheran translations to Luther's Bible and today's translations into various dialects
  • A faithfully reproduced Gutenberg press
  • Bible polyglots: multilingual editions (Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopian, etc.) as a reflection of scholarship
  • Reconstruction of the original text of the New Testament: work of the Institute for New Testament Text Research (INTF)
  • New: Remy Collection
  • New: 3D VR glasses to view and visualize the scholarly work of the INTF