The Elna M. Smith Foundation of Eureka Springs, producer of the Great Passion Play and proprietor of the Christ of the Ozarks statue, is adding Biblical dinosaurs to its attractions.
The Foundation has announced that a Museum of Earth History will open on the Passion Play grounds in the spring of 2005, featuring replicas of dinosaur skeletons. The museum will present the view that the Biblical version of Creation is literally true - that dinosaurs were created on day six of Creation week, along with all other land animals; that they lived contemporaneously with man; that a pair of dinosaurs were on the ark with Noah. Conventional science says that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years before man came into existence.
The Creation Truth Foundation, a non-profit ministry based in Noble, Okla., is developing the museum in cooperation with the Smith Foundation. Dr. G. Thomas Sharp, founder of Creation Truth, said the museum would be the only one in the nation "where the Biblical view of Earth history is presented in this manner."
On its Web site, CTF poses the question, "Why Aren't Dinosaurs in the Bible?" and answers it this way:
"Actually, they are; dinosaurs are mentioned 25 times in the Old Testament. The reason the actual word dinosaur doesn't appear in the Bible is simple: it did not exist when the Bible was written. The first complete English translation of the Bible appeared in 1380. The word dinosaur is a relatively new word coined by the English anatomist, Richard Owen in 1841, well over 500 years after the Bible had already been translated from Hebrew. However, the Hebrew word meaning 'great lizard' is found throughout the Old Testament, including the creation account." The Web site says it's unclear why dinosaurs eventually became extinct after a pair of them survived the flood.
Marvin Peterson, operations director for the Elna M. Smith Foundation, said the new museum would join other Foundation attractions, including a 50-acre outdoor museum of biblical sights, a sacred arts center, and a Bible museum. "Visitors come from all over the world to see the statue and attend the Great Passion Play," he said. In response to a question, he said that Mel Gibson's controversial movie "The Passion of the Christ" had not had a noticeable effect on attendance at the Passion Play, "but I think it's been a help to the church community as a whole."
Gibson has been accused of anti-Semitism. Gerald L. K. Smith, a preacher and pamphleteer who first brought the Passion Play to Eureka Springs in the 1960s, was a prominent anti-Semite.