FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The final stretch of the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary saw record numbers of visitors come to see the scrolls. In its final two and a half weeks, nearly 27,500 guests visited the exhibition, with more than 7,200 of them coming on the final weekend.
Some visitors came from out of state and drove hours the same day simply to gaze upon the ancient artifacts on display. Yet even through the lines, patrons patiently waited. One guest tweeted, “Stood in line today for 3 1/2 hours, but it was well worth the wait!!! Such a blessing to see indeed.”
The exhibit halls were filled with a general sense of bated anticipation as thousands of patrons per day waited to file past the largest Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition ever held in Texas. On the final Saturday of the exhibit, one of its busiest days, Director Bruce McCoy tweeted, “Unprecedented crowds happy waiting in line.”
Commenting on the exhibit’s entire six-month run, McCoy noted it was, “a genuinely once-in-a-lifetime experience.” He described some of his own joys while overseeing the exhibit as well.
“ I was personally honored and humbled to work with such a wonderful staff and team, and to serve Dr. Patterson and the seminary in this magnificent endeavor,” McCoy said.
Of the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves, McCoy sees in them more than a mere repository of the past. Rather, he pointed to the story, significance, Scripture, and seriousness of the Scrolls. With these four parts in mind, McCoy crafted a fitting Gospel presentation. Smiling broadly, McCoy recounted the throngs of people with whom he has shared that message: before and during the exhibit, everywhere from the exhibit halls to airport terminals.
Most recently, McCoy said, five visitors made professions of faith after he pointed to the Gospel from the Dead Sea Scrolls. McCoy cherishes these moments along with seeing “the faces of people when they left and hear(ing) them say over and over, ‘this is such a spiritual experience!’”
With the scrolls, McCoy said exhibit staff were able to reach a world of tourists and field-trippers, world-renown scholars and dignitaries. The scrolls never were meant as typical museum trinkets; not then, not now. McCoy rejoiced that through the Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition, “The Gospel went out.”