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So what's so scintillating about the scrolls?

 

Last updated 6/28/2007 at Noon



As part of my research for this apologetics column, I have been digging (pardon the pun) for archeological finds to defend Christian faith. So the Dead Sea Scrolls have peaked my interest. They substantiate a link from our Christian faith to a tangible ancient belief system embedded in the ancient scrolls.

The exhibition on display in Balboa Park from June 29-Dec 31, is the largest, longest, and most comprehensive ever assembled in any country. Spanning two floors and 12,000 square feet, 27 Dead Sea Scrolls—Ten exhibited for the first time ever—will be on display over the course of the exhibition. The Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves near Khirbet Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel. They are considered the greatest archeological find of the 20th century. Among the exhibits is a 2,000-year-old copy of the Ten Commandments. The same Commandments we learned in Sunday school! More than 200 of the Scroll’s biblical manuscripts are more than 1,000 years older than any previously known copies of the Old Testament. These help establish the age and reliability of the Old Testament text.

The scrolls have a significant link to Christianity through the messianic prophecy as described in the Isaiah Scroll which dates back to thirty years before Jesus was born. Messianic prophecy refers to Old Testament prophets foretelling a Savior being sent from God to save his people. Even though Jesus is never mentioned by name in the Scrolls, the qualifications of an expected Messiah as prophesized in the book clearly points to him as the Messiah, the one promised from God.

Isaiah is the very same book that Jesus opened at the beginning of his ministry and read in the Temple in Luke 4:16: “He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written: The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord (Isaiah 11:2). He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them: “This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.” Jesus clearly states he was the one promised by God. Read the book of Isaiah, you can’t miss the similarities.

Dr. Brad Keele, an assistant professor at Point Loma Nazarene University who teaches Hebrew and Old Testament History and Religion, made the following comment regarding the Scrolls: “I think one of the greatest benefits of the visit is it does put a little material reality to something from so long ago and so far away. It shows that the Scrolls are not a disembodied, none-historic abstract collection that fell from the sky.”

The museum’s Web site has much more information on the exhibit, http://www.sdnhm.org/scrolls.

 

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