An Object Can Be Worth 10,000 Photos

Why I pursued 3D printing for Dallas Theological Seminary. /

When you first heard the “Parable of the Ten Virgins” in Matthew 25, what kind of lamp did you imagine the women holding?

Until recently, I had always pictured a curvy golden one like the genie’s lamp from Disney’s Aladdin. Imagining the women holding those big lamps in both hands, I always wondered why the five wise women couldn’t share a little of their oil with their unprepared friends. Then recently I met with Mark Bailey, president and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, and he showed me an authentic first-century oil lamp that had been donated to the seminary. Instead of the smooth, impressive lamp I had pictured, he handed me a humble, rough little object not much bigger than a deck of playing cards.

Cradling the tiny lamp in my hand, it dawned on me that it could only hold a few ounces, and it would be almost impossible to share oil from one lamp to another. In that moment, I imagined myself as one of the waiting women that night, and I could feel the weight of Jesus’ admonition to be prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival.

After Inkjets and Factories

What if the next time you were teaching Matthew 25, there was a simple, cost effective way of recreating the experience I had for your church or class? Sure, you could just show an image of the lamp on a screen. But in today’s world, images are cheap, while grounded, tangible experiences are hard to come by. In the not-too-distant future, offering this kind of encounter with the world of Scripture is one of the promises of 3D printing.

Technically, 3D printing (also known as additive manufacturing) is not a new technology. In most traditional manufacturing, products are created by using molds filled with plastic or other ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 51 / June 23, 2016
  1. Editor’s Note

    Issue 51: Our Special 3D Issue. /

  2. Beauty Can Be a Matter of Perspective

    We were created to view the world through two eyes. /

  3. If Jesus Came to Flatland

    How to think about dimensions beyond our own. /

  4. The Old West in 3D

    Photos that shaped a nation’s view of its expanding horizon.

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Issue 51: Links to amazing stuff in 3D.

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