The Dead Sea Scrolls in Minnesota

A few months ago, I was asked to supply reconstruction drawings for the new Dead Sea Scroll exhibition in the Science Museum of Minnesota. The exhibition is now open and I encourage you to visit if your are in the area. Here is part of a report which appeared in the St. Louis Post:

“By incorporating new archaeological finds and recent scholarship, the exhibit is the first to fully present two competing theories: Were the scrolls written and collected by an ultra-religious Jewish group living in the desert? Or were the manuscripts smuggled out of Jerusalem on the eve of the Roman invasion in A.D. 70 and hidden for safekeeping in the wilderness?

“We could just tell one side and create a tight little story about who created the scrolls, but that wouldn’t be telling the science,” said Ed Fleming, the museum’s curator of archaeology, who worked with other staff and Israeli authorities to design the exhibit.

Even without the lively debate over their origins, the scrolls have massive appeal. They include the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible, what Christians refer to as the Old Testament.

Some have called their discovery the most important archaeological find of the 20th century. During the next seven months, “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World” will display 15 scroll fragments on loan from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, along with dozens of ancient artifacts — many on public display for the first time — that illustrate daily and religious life in first-century Israel.

Churches and other groups reserved tickets months in advance. Still, more than half a century after their discovery in the Judean Desert, no one knows who copied these ancient texts or how they got there.

It took decades for the scrolls to be pieced together, studied and published. About a quarter of them were identified as portions of the Bible. Every book in the Old Testament is represented with the exception of Esther.”

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