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Seminary exhibits rare Dead Sea Scroll fragments

By Gabi Laron, courtesy The Institute of Archaeology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

FORT WORTH, Texas — A new exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls this summer will feature antiquities never before on public view.

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will open “Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible: Ancient Artifacts, Timeless Treasures.” The exhibition of ancient texts will open on July 2, and be on view until January 11, 2013. The exhibit will demonstrate how the Dead Sea Scrolls revolutionized the study of Christianity and Judaism.

While portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls have been viewable at institutions in the United States and the world, Southwestern Seminary will exhibit seven fragments from its acquisitions, most of which have never been on public display. In addition to those owned by the seminary, the exhibition will include loaned fragments from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (two fragments will rotate in display), the Jordanian Department of Antiquities (six fragments), and others from private collections, including a magnificent piece that has never been on public display from the Kando family of Bethlehem.

Named for the location where the first scrolls were discovered in Israel in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls represent more than 1,400 original separate scrolls of biblical and non-biblical Jewish writings. The Dead Sea Scrolls date back at least 2,000 years, are considered by many scholars to be the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times, and are 1,000 years older than the oldest complete copy of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament known before their discovery.

When “Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible” opens in July, visitors can expect to see artifacts ranging from biblical and extra-biblical texts to modern day Bibles.

“The Dead Sea Scrolls contain the oldest known biblical texts, which influence and provide guidance to millions of people today,” said Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “Because such an extensive collection of fragments has rarely been assembled before and several of the fragments have been seen only privately, the exhibition will be a wonderful opportunity for visitors to find out more about the origins of the Bible and ancient cultures.”