Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Last Sunday, while in Raleigh, Will and I went to see the The Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit on display at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. I could not imagine being so close to such a display and not go.
Cameras were not allowed and it was rather crowded. Each visitor was provided a "wand" with a speaker to enable each person to listen to information on each part of the exhibit. I constantly wanted to wave it and say poof, you are a goon!
We started the tour which took close to an 1 1/2. Mainly because there were so many people in there and we tended to dance around each other to see and read the exhibits.

The scrolls, and fragments thereof, were discovered in 1947. Jars in caves contained these wonderful pieces of history, and after the intial find by goat herders, over a decade was spent searching the caves in the area, 11 of which contained these artifacts. I love old books, I can't imagine how they felt finding these remains. The group also searched for signs of who might have stashed the scrolls scrolls in the caves. They unearthed athe Qumran ruins close by. Through all the wonders that scientist have to date finds, it was determined that the site and scrolls dated between 3rd century BC and 68 AD. (I should say BCE and CE, to be politically correct {BCE = Before Common Era; CE = Common Era).

The Qumran ruins are believed to have been home to the Essene sect (a very disciplined, self denied group - and there is some discord about whether they really were Essene). There was a display of what was uncovered and an explanation of the what is known of the sects rituals. They were extremely hygiene conscience! Several ritual baths that had to be entered before entering certain parts of the community were excavated. The area is very dry with minimal rainfall. The Essenes developed a water system to address this - it was amazing seeing how they dug aqueducts to transport water from the flood plain into the community for the baths and for use with pottery production.

(picture from the Atlantic Baptist University)

There has been much discussion, as with all aspects of this find, how the scrolls ended up hidden in the caves. One theory is, that they were hidden by the sect as the Roman army approached.

Some of the original scrolls made their way to the United States where in 1954 they were listed for sale in the Wall Street Journal - "The Four Dead Sea Scrolls: Biblical manuscripts dating back to at least 200 BC are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group. Box F206."

There was much more information about the finding of the scrolls and the process to get the scrolls back to Jerusalem and the translating and dating and authoring of the finds. After reading and listening to the process, we entered a room that was kept just light enough to see what not to run into.

There were 6 scrolls, well partial scrolls on display. Some were Biblical and some were non-biblical. I had no idea there 19 copies of the book of Isaiah (nor that there were 3 authors of the book) and 30 copies of the Psalms. I do not remember how many copies of Genesis there were, but a section of the creation story was on display with the original translation. Pretty surreal reading an original writing of our Bible!

The nonbiblical writings found consisted of commentaries of the Old Testament, rule books, wisdom writings, rules of war and I am sure more items. There was on display some community rules and responsive readings with the translation.

We left the room with the scrolls to hand in our wands, walking past various versions of Bibles over the years.

As we left out of the exhibit and re-ented the rest of the museum, I became a little tickled at the site - a huge dinasour skeleton hanging from the ceiling as well as an ancient flying creature's skeleton.

Why would this amuse me?

Well, I thought it was quite fitting with the excerpt from Genesis that we had just read . . .
"God created. . . and the sea monsters of the air"


Jan said...

So fascinating Imerie. I just love that you had that opportunity to see them. That was a neat scripture to end with too.

AngiDe- Nana's Box said...

Hey, thanks for coming by and entering my giveaway! Good luck!

"Nana's Box"

Sandy Toes said...

Very interesting!!! What an opportunity!
-sandy toes