Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Dead Sea Scrolls at the Science Museum
This past Sunday a group from Chain of Lakes Church went to visit the Dead Sea Scroll exhibit at the Science Museum in St. Paul.
Many of us prepared ourselves for the exhibit by attending a lecture by Joe Imholte the previous Thursday. He is one of the curators for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. This lecture was sponsored by Chain of Lakes Church and was held at the Senior Center. Mr. Imholte focused much of his talk on the science of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is quite amazing to think that these documents still exhibit. Many of them consist of ink written on goat skins. He also talked about some of the theories surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls. One theory states that the scrolls were written in Jerusalem and then taken to the caves near Qumran by people who were fleeing the Romans; another theory states that the scrolls were written by people who lived at the community in Qumran. On Thursday night we had the opportunity to view a power point presentation and ask questions.
After worship this past Sunday, a good-sized group from Chain of Lakes went to the exhibit. We started by listening to a short introductory talk about the Dead Sea Scrolls. We were given phones that provided audio help to viewing the exhibit. The exhibit is made up of 15 rooms—the first 13 focus on the Scrolls; the last two focus on the Saint John’s Bible.
At the talk on Thursday, Joe Imholte said that the exhibit is set up to facilitate the flow of people. What he meant is that at the beginning of the exhibit participants are willing to spend a lot of time viewing what is shared; however at the end of the exhibit participants are tired and ready to go—thus they spend less time viewing. I found this to be the case for myself. I spent about 20 minutes in the first room, digesting everything I could read. I spent time talking to a person who shared some fascinating information on the geography of the Dead Sea area. By the time I got to the room that contained the Dead Sea Scrolls, I was tired. I only spent ten minutes viewing the scrolls. And viewing the scrolls was the reason I came!!
Quite frankly I found the exhibit to be more about the history and religion of the time than about viewing the Dead Sea Scrolls. We were able to view only five of the actual scrolls. They are being rotated in groups of three. This emphasis in the exhibit wasn't at all a negative for me. I was fascinated to learn about the historical and religious context that led to the writing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I purchased a number of books about the Dead Sea Scrolls. I’ve already spent some time reading two of the books this week.
I strongly encourage everyone to go to the Science Museum to view the exhibit. I learned quite a lot about first-century Judaism, how faith was practiced, the story behind the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and was able to view these documents. Just growing in this understanding was worth my time and the cost of admission.