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: Read Archbishop Aquila’s letter in response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

The following letter written by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila in response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report was read at all weekend Masses Aug. 17-18.

18 August 2018

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to you today with great sadness to respond to yet another scandal that has shaken the Church. Even though many of the details in the Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania had already been reported, the full release was still undeniably shocking and its contents devasting to read. We face the undeniable fact that the Church has gone through a dark and shameful time, and while a clear majority of the Report addresses incidents occurring 20+ years in the past, we know that sin has a lasting impact and amends need to be made.

Many children have suffered from cruel behavior for which they bore no responsibility. I offer my apology for any way that the Church, its cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, or laity have failed to live up to Jesus’ call to holiness. I especially offer this apology to the survivors, for the past abuses and for those who knowingly allowed the abuse to occur. I also apologize to the clergy who have been faithful and are deeply discouraged by these reports.

Everyone has the right to experience the natural feelings of grief as they react to this trauma – shock; denial; anger; bargaining; and depression. I want you to know I feel those emotions as well – especially anger. I believe the best way to recover is a return to God’s plan for human sexuality. In response to the Archbishop McCarrick revelations, I have written at length about the spiritual battle we are facing. That letter can be found on the archdiocese’s home page – archden.org.

I ask everyone to pray for the Church in Pennsylvania, though these dioceses over the last 20 years have greatly evolved from how they are described in the Grand Jury Report, the Church must face its past sins with great patience, responsibility, repentance and conversion.

Creating an environment where children are safe from abuse remains a top priority in the Archdiocese of Denver. In our archdiocese, we require background checks and Safe Environment Training for all priests, deacons, employees, and any volunteers who are around children. During this training, everyone is taught their role as a mandatory reporter, and what steps to follow if they witness or even suspect abuse. We also require instruction for children and young people, where they are taught about safe and appropriate boundaries, and to tell a trusted adult if they ever feel uncomfortable. We participate in regular independent audits of our practices, and we have been found in compliance every year since the national audit began in 2003.

Finally, while we have made strides to improve our Archdiocese, I am aware that the wounds of past transgressions remain. We are committed to helping victims of abuse and we are willing to meet with anyone who believes they have been mistreated.

I urge all of us to pray for holiness, for the virtues, and for a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Only he and he alone can heal us, forgive us, and bring us to the Father. Be assured of my prayers for all of you and most especially the victims of any type of sexual abuse committed by anyone.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila