Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition opens in Fort Worth
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Representatives from the state of Israel, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the state senate and the city of Fort Worth celebrated the opening of the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, July 2. The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the beginning of the six-month exhibition, which runs through Jan. 13, 2013.
Guy Cohen, Cultural Attaché to the Consulate General of Israel, shared a word of greeting on behalf of the state of Israel.
“I want to thank Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Hebrew University in Jerusalem for making this piece of life possible to travel from the Dead Sea in Israel to being seen here in Fort Worth, Texas, so far from where it was found,” Cohen said.
“Discovering and learning about our history is the most significant step toward understanding our present and building toward our future. We all know this and yet would rather deal with the present and plan for the future without acknowledging that the source to our present and our future is based upon the past, and the deeper we dig, the more significant the findings are.”
Kristi Wiseman, a representative from Sen. Wendy Davis’ office, read a Texas Senate proclamation celebrating the occasion. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price also voiced a welcome to those gathered and expressed her appreciation for all the hard work put into bringing the exhibition to Fort Worth, especially the efforts of seminary president Paige Patterson and his wife Dorothy.
“The seminary and [the Pattersons] are such wonderful partners for the city of Fort Worth, and what you bring to us is incredible,” Price said. “Fort Worth is indeed a very faith-filled community, … and you are reaching out in more ways than one.”
Patterson shared the significance of the preservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls over the years, saying, “By careful operation, these scrolls have been preserved.”
“Why are they important? Why would they bring together the Christian and Jewish communities? They bring us all together because they represent the Word of the Lord, preserved now miraculously for more than 2,000 years so that we can know that what was written initially is essentially, exactly what we have today in your Bible—the Word of God for God’s people wherever they may be.”
Gary Loveless, a trustee at Southwestern and the premier sponsor of the exhibition, voiced a closing prayer prior to the official ribbon cutting. The founder and chief executive of Houston-based Square Mile Energy then joined his wife Stephanie, Patterson and Cohen to cut the ribbon.
Southwestern Seminary owns more Dead Sea Scroll fragments than any institution outside of Jordan and Israel. The six-month exhibition in the MacGorman Performing Arts Center features more than 20 scroll fragments, including Southwestern’s collection as well as scroll fragments and artifacts related to the discovery on loan from Israel, Jordan and private collections. Many of the fragments, including a large piece from the book of Genesis, have never been on public display before. The exhibition expects to draw thousands of visitors to Fort Worth.
Additionally, the exhibition includes a simulated archaeology dig site, which is a scaled replica of the ancient site of Qumran near the Dead Sea where the scrolls were found. The Smithsonian Institution donated 20,000 pounds of pottery sherds, which can be taken home by children who unearth them as they dig. Also, a weekly lecture series featuring biblical and archaeological scholars from around the world will take place throughout the exhibition. Additional details can be found at www.seethescrolls.com
The Dead Sea Scrolls are arguably the greatest archaeological manuscript find of the 20th century. The first discoveries were made in 1947 and sparked a nearly 10-year search in caves overlooking the Dead Sea near Qumran in what is now Israel. The scrolls date back to the second century B.C. and contain biblical manuscripts, biblical manuscripts with commentary, apocryphal manuscripts and extra-biblical literature.