The Dead Sea Scrolls

May 15, 2006

On Saturday my wife and I, along with one of our daughters, had the opportunity to view the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at Discovery Place in Charlotte NC. This exhibit continues through the end of May. Tickets must be purchased in advance for a particular time slot. We entered around 3:15 and spent about an hour and a half in the exhibit.

The exhibit included fragments of ten actual scrolls, including excerpts from five books of our Bible (Genesis, Leviticus, Numbers, Psalm, Isaiah) plus fragments from a commentary on Nahum and from several secular and apocryphal works. All the scroll fragments dated from around a century before Christ.

The exhibit began with a short movie, followed by a series of exhibits showing where the scrolls were discovered, some related archeological information and how they have been handled and studied. I found it particularly interesting that they are using DNA testing to match up fragments that are written on skin from the same animal, in hopes that some of the smaller fragments can be assembled to recreate the contents of the original document.

Before entering the Gallery of Scrolls section where the actual scroll fragments were displayed, there were several replicas of the scrolls under more normal lighting, to give a better idea of the appearance of the scrolls. One of these replicas contained the Ten Commandments from Deuteronomy (in Hebrew of course, so I had to take their word for it!)

The scrolls were displayed in a dark room in humidity-controlled cases. Dim lighting cycled on and off to avoid continuous exposure of the specimens to light. Larger lighted pictures were provided alongside with translation and explanatory text. An audio program was also provided with additional explanation for some displays.

The writing on the scrolls was in Hebrew and was very tiny. These were obviously not the large print editions of their Bibles! (rim shot) In some cases I could barely tell that there was writing on the scroll. In other cases I could see well enough that I wished I could read Hebrew.

Upon exiting from the Gallery of Scrolls, there were several more recent (a few hundred years old) Bibles, some in scroll form and others in codex form. Included in the display were examples in German, Latin, Greek, and old English.

At the end of the exhibit was (of course!) the gift shop where you could buy an assortment of momentos in a wide range of prices. I selected a hardcopy version of the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible. Of course I could have saved a little money at amazon.com, but hey–my copy came from a shelf only a few steps away from some real scrolls!

I came away from the exhibit feeling like I had encountered some important history.

One comment

  1. Now THAT is cool!There are several things I want to see during my lifetime: Indepenence Hall, The Declaration of Independence,Mount Rushmore, the Dead Sea scrolls….etcYou are a very blessed dude to have seen them. Great post! (Except for that green stripe that went down my back after I read it. );-)

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