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Holy National Bible Museum, Batman! What Does Hobby Lobby's Split With Rare Books Dealer Mean For Proposed Dallas Site?

Big sturm und drang going on in New York and Europe amongst book dealers dealing with the Green family in Oklahoma City regarding the collection I wrote about in March that was supposed to become a national bible museum here in Dallas.

So: Is it on, or is it off?

Last week the Green family -- the money behind Hobby Lobby stores and a whole lot of real estate across the nation -- sent out the following missive to book dealers around the world, making it sound as if Dallas could kiss the bible museum good-bye. Their e-mail -- dealing with Johnny Shipman, the Dallas guy who who had been buying millions of books for them as their agent -- read as follows:

"Please be advised that effective August 1, 2010, Mr. Johnny Shipman no longer represents the Green Collection, Mr. Steven T. Green or Dr. Scott Carroll, whether on behalf of the National Bible Museum or any other entity or organization.

"If you believe that you are currently in negotiations with Mr. Shipman on behalf of the Green Collection, Mr. Steven T. Green or Dr. Scott Carroll, we would kindly ask that you contact the undersigned at your earliest convenience so we might clear up any misunderstanding or miscommunication.

"The Green Collection is no longer collaborating with the National Bible Museum, though we continue to expand our collection to open a Bible museum in the near future. Your continued cooperation in this endeavor is greatly appreciated."

I can't reach Shipman -- sometimes known as a broker of rare books, sometimes known as Shipman's Fine Jewelry. All of his phone numbers are kaput.

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But I did reach Scott Carroll, a respected scholar and curator and who was the brains behind the museum idea. He was in London. He said the split between the Greens and Shipman was a mutual agreement that does not effect plans by the Greens to find a home for their trove of early Judaeo-Christian treasures. Carroll told me Dallas is still under consideration.

But whatever the thing is, it doesn't sounds as if it will be called the National Bible Museum -- a name that may belong to Shipman.

At the end of the day, a spokesperson for the Greens confirmed all this as follows in an e-mailed letter. Marsha Bold of Hobby Lobby said in the letter:

"The Greens are no longer collaborating with the National Bible Museum and Mr. Johnny Shipman. To ensure those we have worked with and are working with in relation to the Green Collection and the Bible museum planned by the Greens are aware of the separation, we notified them in writing in August. This notice was mutually agreed upon by all parties involved.

"The Greens remain committed to expanding their collection of Biblical antiquities and to opening a Bible museum in the future. We are excited that Dr. Scott Carroll is continuing to work with us on this endeavor.

At this time, we are continuing to evaluate locations for the museum and will announce a location when one has been selected. As we announced previously, we are considering several metropolitan areas, including Dallas."

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