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By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Penn Museum opened an exhibit this week that showcases a number of ancient religious writings, including some of the earliest fragments of the Bible.

These sacred texts are being shown to the public in honor of the Papal visit.

Titled, Sacred Writings: Extraordinary Texts of the Biblical World, the exhibition showcases sacred writings that have survived centuries, even millennia.

“There’s a range of manuscripts such as early Bibles, including bibles written in Native American languages,” says Steve Tinney, Associate Curator for the Babylonian section.

He says the highlighted pieces include a 1600-year-old fragment of a handwritten copy of the gospel of Saint Matthew, as well as one of the earliest version of the Mesopotamian flood story illustrated on clay estimated to be over 3,500 years ago.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to think about the way that key tasks that are very, very important in the U.S. today have their origins thousands of miles and thousands of years ago,” says Tinney.

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He says the museum expects to be busy the week of the World Meeting of Families and a Papal visit and are hoping those visiting the exhibit get the full emotional experience of the week.

“The sense of awe really of standing beside something that’s been handwritten by somebody thousands of years ago who was also a believer and a worshiper,” says Tinney, “it’s going to be a very moving week for many people in many different ways and I hope that people feel moved by our manuscripts as well.”

The exhibit runs through November 7th.

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