Hebrew University scholar praises Dead Sea Scroll exhibition
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Hebrew University scholar Shalom Paul praised Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition, July 10. Paul, professor of Bible emeritus at the Jerusalem university and chairperson of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation, opened the Joan and Andy Horner Lecture Series, which complements the seminary’s six-month exhibition. The lecture series was underwritten by Premier Designs.
"I have had the honor of opening up all of the Dead Sea Scroll exhibitions throughout the United States, each time with a different introductory lecture,” Paul said. “But having been at every one, there are several things that are very unique about this exhibition.
"First of all, this is the first time ever that there is an exhibition taking place at a seminary. All of the others throughout the United States, from coast to coast, have been in museums. And I think that is really a feather in your cap. ... That is very, very special.
"Also, you will be surprised to hear that there are scrolls here that have never been exhibited before, that have never left the safe-deposit boxes before. And that is something very unique, that you can be aptly proud of—that you can display to the community things that are unique."
The Dead Sea Scrolls & the Bible exhibition features more than 20 ancient Dead Sea Scroll fragments, including seven fragments that have never been seen publically, as well as many other artifacts from the Bible Lands. The exhibition opened July 2 and will continue until Jan. 13, 2013. The weekly lecture series displays Southwestern Seminary’s commitment to intensive study of the Bible, archaeology and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
During his lecture, Paul described to the 150-member audience why the Dead Sea Scrolls have value for understanding the Bible, early Judaism and the birth of Christianity. He explained that, before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest copy of the Hebrew Old Testament available to scholars was transcribed 1,000 years after the birth of Christ. After having been copied and recopied by hand for more than a millennium, could this copy of Scripture have preserved the text as originally written?
“Then came the Dead Sea Scrolls, which now gives us manuscripts which are 1,000 years earlier (than the earliest copies we previously had),” Paul said. “And the amazing thing is that, when you look at the gigantic 22-foot Isaiah Scroll, it is very close to what we have today.”
According to Paul, the Dead Sea Scrolls also give scholars insight into the diverse forms of Judaism that existed at the time that Christ walked the earth. These forms of Judaism provided the “matrix” in which early Christianity developed. The group from Qumran that preserved the Dead Sea Scrolls shared some beliefs with early Christians, although these two groups differed in significant ways. For example, the Qumran group looked forward to the coming of a messiah—actually, two messiahs—and believed in an imminent apocalypse.
The Joan and Andy Horner Lecture Series takes place each Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the Southwestern Seminary campus. Individual lecture tickets are $20 per person or $10 per student with a student ID. Admission is free for Southwestern Seminary students and faculty. Cost for a ticket to all 18 lectures in the series is only $300. To learn more about the lecture series or to purchase tickets, visit seethescrolls.com.