Kuyper College was gifted a 200-year-old, non-kosher, or pasul, Torah scroll from Ken and Barb Larson, founders of God’s Ancient Library, a non-profit whose mission is “to celebrate God’s Word by preserving and gifting Torah scrolls to schools that prepare Bible teachers for the future.” To date, the organization has given 52 Torah scrolls to seminaries, museums and other organizations for teaching, research and public engagement. Kuyper’s Torah scroll is approximately 200 years old, originated in Eastern Europe, and survived the Holocaust.
After being contacted by God’s Ancient Library, Kuyper President Patricia Harris and professor of biblical studies, Dr. Daniel Kroeze, flew to Minneapolis to receive the scroll. During an event to celebrate the gift to Kuyper, a presentation was shown detailing the year-long process it takes to produce a Torah scroll, the requirements to be a scribe for a Torah scroll, and the love for the Word that permeates every step of the production process.
A Torah scroll contains the first five books of the Old Testament, is handwritten on dried animal skin, and used in Jewish synagogues during Shabbat (Sabbath) and other services. To be considered kosher, a Torah scroll must meet rigorous standards—tears, textual errors or faded ink can all render a Torah scroll pasul and no longer suitable for use. There are dozens of rules and regulations on how a Torah scroll must be produced in order to reflect the holiness of God’s Word. For example, each section of a Torah scroll must have exactly forty-two lines because, on their way to the Promised Land, the Israelites made forty-two stops. Other rules dictate the kind of animal skins that are used to make the parchment for the scrolls, the formula for the ink that is used, and the actual writing utensil—a quill—usually from a turkey feather. No instrument containing iron or steel may be used in the creation of a Torah scroll because these metals are used to make instruments of war. Rooted in love and reverence for the Word, these rules and regulations are all in place to ensure that God’s Word passes on faithfully from one generation to the next. According to Dr. Kroeze, “The Torah scroll is a symbol of the love for the Word and a symbol of how that Word has been preserved accurately.”
At the event, Ken and Barb Larson made it clear that the scrolls are not only to be displayed, but to be used and studied by anyone seeking to grow deeper in their understanding of God’s Word. Kuyper is doing just that. In his last class of the semester, Dr. Kroeze’s students examined the Torah scroll. In addition, the faculty is formulating ideas on how they might use the scroll. One thought is to do regular readings from the Torah with translations into English. While it is not in use, the Torah scroll will be on display at Kuyper’s Zondervan Library. Dr. Nicholas Kroeze, former Kuyper president and an award-winning wood sculptor, is currently building a display case for the scroll.