The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was built in the middle of the 6th century, making it more than 1400 years old.  Unlike Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, it escaped the Persian destruction in 614 and the Egyptian attack in 1009.  The church not only suffers from age, but from the inability of its occupants to cooperate with each other.  But now the Palestinian Authority has announced plans to renovate the church.  From the Associated Press:

The Palestinian government announced Monday it is planning an ambitious restoration project for the ancient church that marks the traditional birthplace of Jesus, an important Christian site that draws millions of visitors.
The renovation of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity is expected to take several years and millions of dollars, according to Ziad Bandak, an official overseeing the restoration.
Bandak said this is the first comprehensive restoration project on the church since it was completed in the fourth century. He said the roof, pillars and mosaics in the church all need work.
“Rain leaking in has caused great damage to all of those, which led us to move quickly to repair the damage,” Bandak said, adding that the project would also aim to fix general wear and tear on the centuries-old church.
The fortress-like church, built in the classic style with a long central area under a basilica lined with columns on both sides, is dark and damp. The main Christmas event, the Midnight Mass, is celebrated in the 19th century St. Catherine’s Church next door to the Church of the Nativity.
The Palestinian government has appealed to European and Arab nations to help fund the project, Bandak said. He said the three churches that administer sections of the church have agreed to the project. Officials from the Latin, Greek and Armenian churches could not be reached for comment. Their rivalries have often led to fistfights between monks at the holy site.

The full story is here.  For modern photos of the church, see this Pictorial Library volume.  For historic black-and-white photos, see this American Colony CD

Bethlehem Church of Nativity interior, tb102603439

Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

From a story posted by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Less than a year after acquiring three fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, has added three more biblical fragments, making it the largest collection of an institution of higher education in the United States. The new fragments were obtained from a private collector in Europe through the generous gift from a friend of the seminary. “The acquisition constitutes another significant milestone in the development of our programs in biblical studies and archaeology,” said Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern. “We are especially grateful for the friends of Southwestern who have made these acquisitions, as well as three other fragments, possible and for Mrs. Patterson and Candi Finch who worked so tirelessly to get them to Fort Worth.” The set of six fragments is one more than the set owned by Azusa Pacific University near Los Angeles, which acquired five pieces in 2009. The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago also owns a fragment. Steven Ortiz, associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds and director of the Charles D. Tandy Archaeology Museum at Southwestern, noted that having one fragment would be just as important as owning six. “It is not a race to see who can collect the most fragments,” Ortiz said. “The goal is to get these out of the hands of private collectors and make them available to the public, especially scholars. […] Early analysis shows the new fragments include portions of Deuteronomy 9:25–10:1, Deuteronomy 12:11-14, and Psalm 22:4-13. Psalm 22 is known as a prophetic messianic psalm that describes the brutality of Jesus’ death 1,000 years before he was crucified.

The full story is here.