Nov 19, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls Display

Following the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) meeting in San Diego, Rex Geissler and I traveled to the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park to view the Dead Sea Scrolls display. Although I had seen them in Israel at the Shrine of the Book over 10 years ago there were many that had not been on display before.

A piece of the copper scroll (3Q15 No. 18 col. X) that I saw in Jordan at the Amman museum in January was on display. The metal is 99% pure copper and one mm thick. The text is a list of hidden treasures that has stumped scholars for years. Over 100 tons of gold, silver and other objects were hidden with clues mentioned in the text. However, none of these have been located as yet if it is true and not merely a legend.

Of special interest to me was the best preserved manuscript of Deuteronomy 4Q41 (Deut 8:5-10; 5:1-6:1) dating to 30-1 BC. It was discovered in cave 4 in 1952. Here is the oldest copy of the Ten Commandments (Decalogue) in existence. I could see the scribe’s lines on the thin leather parchment.

Then one of my favorite Psalms was on display, Psalm 121 (11Q5 col. 3). This was so special because the word for God was written in Paleo-Hebrew script while the remainder of the text was in first century Hebrew. They did this out of reverence for Yahweh to set the text apart as special from the rest of the words. Many Jews believe that ancient Hebrew is a divine language and the four-consonant name of God (YHWH the Tetragammaton) is to be treated with the utmost reverence. It was found in cave 11 the year I was born (1956).

Another scroll of interest to me was the Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521). This texts quotes from the book of Isaiah which Jesus also quoted from (Luke 4:16-21; 7:22). It is a Messianic prophecy “And the Lord will perform marvelous acts such have not existed, just as he said for he will heal the badly wounded and will make the dead live, he will proclaim the good news to the poor and he will lead the . . . and enrich the hungry.” Jesus said this to John the Baptist who if he came out of the Essene community would have been aware of this both from Isaiah and the Messianic Apocalypse. John was well equipped to recognize the messiah when he arrived. “Behold the Lamb of God”

It was a memorable morning and fascinating to see these ancient documents first hand. In all there were 23 scrolls on display with 6 additional codices from the National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg, Russia. If your in the area these scrolls are a must see.

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