Dead Sea Scrolls come alive in Denver

Denver Catholic Staff

The Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time, are going to appear in an exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science from March 16 to Sept. 3.

The scrolls are ancient manuscripts that include the oldest known biblical documents dating back over 2,000 years. They will be presented within a massive exhibit case featuring carefully regulated individual chambers, along with the full English translation. This will make it possible to see a total of 20 scrolls while the exhibition is in Denver. Each rotation includes a scroll that has never before been on public display.

In 1947, a Bedouin goat herder stumbled upon a hidden cave along the shore of the Dead Sea, near the site of the ancient settlement of Qumran. Concealed within the cave were scrolls that had not been seen for 2,000 years. After extensive excavation, thousands of fragments from more than 900 remarkably preserved scrolls were recovered, leading to decades of extraordinary scrutiny, preservation, debate, and awe.

Dates in the Dead Sea Scrolls use the international calendar system of Anno Domini (AD), which began in the year 1, with earlier history notated as Before Christ (BC).

Among the scrolls that will be on display in the exhibit is a piece of the book of Isaiah written around 60 AD and discovered in 1952. The text was originally written in Hebrew.

An exhibit showcasing the Dead Sea Scrolls will appear at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science beginning March 16. (Photo provided)

The visitor will also appreciate a piece of the book of Psalms which names King David as author of the psalms, reinforcing his reputation as the greatest of poets. It was written in 68 AD in Hebrew and discovered in 1956.

At the beginning of the exhibition, a timeline filled with ancient objects takes the visitor back in time more than 3,000 years to the events written about in the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament. Archaeologists refer to this as the Iron Age (1200–550 BCE). This section includes a replica of a typical Iron Age four-room Israelite house.

The exhibition also includes a replica segment of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and an authentic stone block, believed to have fallen in 70 AD, from the wall itself. As people do in Jerusalem, visitors may leave notes with hopes, prayers, and dreams in cracks between stones.

In addition, more than 500 artifacts from the ancient Middle East will immerse guests in historic traditions and beliefs that continue to impact world cultures today. The authentic objects include inscriptions and seals, weapons, stone carvings, terra cotta figurines, remains of religious symbols, coins, shoes, textiles, mosaics, ceramics and jewelry. The exhibition is organized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA).

For more information go to dmns.org/dead-sea-scrolls/

COMING UP: Local artists choose life in pro-life art show

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For someone who’s always been in love with art, it’s not surprising that Brett Lempe first encountered God through beauty. Lempe, a 25-year-old Colorado native, used his talent for art and new-found love of God to create a specifically pro-life art show after a planned show was cancelled because of Lempe’s pro-life views.

Lempe was “dried out with earthly things,” he said. “I was desperately craving God.”

Three years ago, while living in St. Louis, Mo., Lempe google searched for a church to visit and ended up at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

“I was captivated by the beauty of the 40 million mosaic tiles,” he said.

Lempe is not exaggerating. This Cathedral is home to 41.5 million tiles that make up different mosaics around the sanctuary. Witnessing the beauty of this church is what sparked his conversion, he said, and was his first major attraction towards Catholicism.

Lempe continued on to become Catholic, then quit his job several months after joining the Church to dedicate himself completely to art. Most of his work post-conversion is religious art.

Lempe planned to display a non-religious body of artwork at a venue for a month when his contact at the venue saw some of Lempe’s pro-life posts on Facebook. Although none of the artwork Lempe planned to display was explicitly pro-life or religious, the venue cancelled the show.

“I was a little bit shocked at first,” he said. “Something like me being against abortion or being pro-life would get a whole art show cancelled.”

Lempe decided to counter with his own art show, one that would be explicitly pro-life.

On Sept. 7, seven Catholic artists displayed work that gave life at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Denver.

“Catholicism lends itself to being life-giving,” Lempe said.

The show included a variety of work from traditional sacred art, icons, landscapes, to even dresses.

Students for Life co-hosted the event, and 10 percent of proceeds benefited the cause. Lauren Castillo, Development director and faith-based program director at Students for Life America gave the keynote presentation.

Castillo spoke about the need to be the one pro-life person in each circle of influence, with coworkers, neighbors, family, or friends. The reality of how many post-abortive women are already in our circles is big, she said.

“Your friend circle will get smaller,” Castillo said. “If one life is saved, it’s worth it.”

Pro-Life Across Mediums

Brett Lempe’s Luke 1:35

“This painting is the first half at an attempt of displaying the intensity and mystical elements of Luke 1:35,” Lempe said. “This work is influenced somewhat by Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ painting as I try to capture the moment when the “New Adam” is conceived by Our Blessed Mother.”

Claire Woodbury’s icon of Christ Pantokrator

“I was having a difficult time making that icon,” she said. “I was thinking it would become a disaster.”

She felt Jesus saying to her, “This is your way of comforting me. Is that not important?”

“Icons are very important to me,” she said. “I guess they’re important to Him too.”

Katherine Muser’s “Goodnight Kisses”

“Kids naturally recognize the beauty of a baby and they just cherish it,” Muser said of her drawing of her and her sister as children.

Brie Shulze’s Annunciation

“There is so much to unpack in the Annunciation,” Schulze said. “I wanted to unpack that life-giving yes that our Blessed Mother made on behalf of all humanity.”

“Her yes to uncertainty, to sacrifice, to isolation, to public shame and to every other suffering that she would endure is what allowed us to inherit eternal life.”

“Her fiat was not made in full knowledge of all that would happen, but in love and total surrender to the will of God.”

All photos by Makena Clawson