In early February, 10 new scrolls arrived from Israel and are on display in the “Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Time” exhibit that runs through April 15 at the Discovery Time Square museum in New York City.
The newly installed scrolls are written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek and include “Greek Minor Prophets” and “Job Targum,” (which have never been seen publicly) as well as several that are making their New York debut. The new scrolls were added to replace 10 existing ones, which were removed after a planned three month display because of the scrolls’ fragile nature and sensitivity to light and humidity.
The exhibit, originating from the collections of the Israel National Treasures in Jerusalem, is comprised of roughly 500 artifacts, some dating back more than 3,000 years. It is one of the most comprehensive displays of artifacts from ancient Israel ever assembled.
Hundreds of artifacts on display are drawn from archaeological explorations by the Israel Antiquities Authority and from the historic discovery of the scrolls in 1947 by Bedouins in caves near the Dead Sea. The scrolls and other artifacts on display cover the periods from the emergence of ancient Israel to the births of Judaism and Christianity in the Holy Land.
As a family outing, high school or middle school-aged children with some religious education would probably enjoy this exhibit the most. It is not really suitable for younger children although we did ask an eight-year old girl what she thought of it and she said, “I like the museum because it makes it all real.” I guess it really depends on the maturity of the child (kids with ants in their pants should stay home) and their level of curiosity and desire to learn.
While this exhibition may not be as flashy as King Tut or pure fun, like the Harry Potter exhibit, you can’t help but feel awed by the idea that in it lies some of the oldest known texts of the Bible, whatever their origins.
Don’t worry if you miss the scrolls in New York, you can always see them in Philadelphia later in the spring.