Thursday, January 21, 2010

Milwaukee Public Museum Unveils Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible Exhibit

Top photo: Fragment of the 'Last Supper' Dead Sea Scroll
Bottom Photo: A unique scroll, known as the Copper Scroll
Click on photos to enlarge images.

Authentic Dead Sea Scrolls fragments discovered in the 1940's to be exhibited

By H. Nelson Goodson
January 21, 2010

Milwaukee -On Friday, the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) will unveil one of the largest and exclusive temporary exhibits exploring the history of the Holy Land and exhibiting actual fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The comprehensive MPM Dead Sea Scrolls collection includes ancient artifacts and other treasures connecting the Holy Bible to early scroll writings of testiments discovered written in Hebrew and paleo-Hebrew. The majority of the scrolls are written in Hebrew; there are also texts in Aramaic and in Greek similar to the modern day bible version.
MPM has created an atmosphere focusing on manuscripts, artifacts, landscape, aerial photography, displays about science, and discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls authenticity dating back several thousand years. The scrolls were written in the third century BCE through the first century CE, and were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbet Qumran, on the northwestern shores of the Dead Sea in Israel, according to MPM curators.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was made by a Bedouin shepherd boy who tossed a stone into a desert cave near the Dead Sea during the winter of 1946-47. He heard the sound of shattered pottery and went inside to investigate. The boy discovered the first of 11 caves containing jugs and pottery used to store ancient artifacts and the oldest surviving texts of the Hebrew Bible along the cliffs near the ruins of Qumran. Numerous scroll writings found in the caves cast new light and diverse ancient belief into how the three major monotheisms of Judaism, Christianity and Islam evolved.
Hundreds of documents known today as the Dead Sea Scrolls became one the most famous modern day archaeological discoveries, since the opening of King Tut’s tomb.

Scroll Manuscript
Click on image to enlarge

The above manuscript (Scroll - 981) was found in cave 4 in 1952, and contains text of the Ten Commandments which is longer than traditional translations and reflects both biblical versions of the Sabbath commandment (Exodus 20:11 and Deuteronomy 5:11). This law instructs the Israelites not to work on the Sabbath to remember their rescue from slavery in Egypt and God's resting on the 7th day of creation. Even today, many people practice this tradition of rest.
The majority of the scrolls found are written on leather parchment, and some on papyrus (reed paper), including one unique scroll inscribed in a metal Copper Scroll. The Copper Scroll is part of a collect which describes in great detail where 64 great sites are located containing 100 tons of hidden gold and silver treasure. No one has ever found the great treasure.

On exhibit is the only known scroll-type manuscript on stone "Gabriel's Relavation", the recently discovered Jeselsohn Stone.
Other exihibits include, "some of the oldest Greek New Testament papyri, pages from rare handcopied medieval Bibles, and the oldest manuscript in part of the Masoretic Text or traditional Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and early and modern printed Bibles," Carrie Trousil, MPM Communications Specialist described in a Press Media kid released to HNNUSA.
The display includes a section of more than 160 archaeological objects depicting the region where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written.
MPM curators say it has taken six years to bring the Dead Sea Scrolls to Milwaukee. Aside from the scroll and bible exhibits an eleven-lecture series of one hour featuring international panels of speakers, each covering a different facet of the exhibit is scheduled between January through early June at an additional cost.
The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit is sponsored by The Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation and other sponsors.
The exhibit opens January 22, 2010 through June, and afterwards the exclusive exhibition will not travel to any other institution.  A must see exhibit for everyone.

The three most asked questions about the scrolls.

What is the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The Dead Sea Scrolls are widely acknowledged to be among the greatest archaeological treasures linking us to the ancient Middle East, and to the formative years of Judaism and Christianity. Over 200 biblical manuscripts are more than a thousand years older than any previously known copies of the Hebrew Bible. In addition, there are scrolls that appear to represent a distinct form of Judaism that did not survive the Roman destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE. These "sectarian scrolls" reveal a fascinating stage of transition between the ancient religion of the Bible and Rabbinic Judaism, as well as the faith that would become the world's largest, Christianity. Both of these traditions, in turn, influence Islam.

Who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Most scholars believe the scrolls were created by the Essene sect, a group of Jews who broke away from mainstream Judaism to live a communal life in the desert. When the Romans invaded their community around 68 CE, the Essenes hid the manuscripts in nearby caves. The ruins of Qumran, near the base of the caves, are believed by many to be the communal quarters of the Essenes. However, some scholars believe the Essenes were not the only authors of the scrolls; they assume that some of the manuscripts were written in Jerusalem and later deposited in the caves at Qumran when the Romans threatened Jerusalem.

What kind of texts are the Dead Sea Scrolls?

The manuscripts fall into three major categories: biblical apocryphal, and sectarian. The biblical manuscripts comprise some 200 copies of biblical books, representing the earliest evidence for the biblical text in the world. Among the apocryphal manuscripts (works that were not included in the biblical canon) are works that had previously been known only in translation, or that had not been known at all. The sectarian manuscripts reflect a wide variety of literary genres: biblical commentary, religious legal writings, liturgical (prayer) texts, and compositions that predict a coming apocalypse.

For more information, the following Internet link for the Milwaukee Public Museum's 'Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible' exhibit is provided:

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