A unique exhibition representing the Dead Sea Scrolls begins July 15 at the Washington Temple Visitors’ Center with a 10:00 a.m. press conference. Dr. Noel Reynolds, Director of the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, will speak on the exhibit’s significance and why the Dead Sea Scrolls have been called the most important manuscript find of this century.

The free exhibit opens to the public at 1:00 p.m. on July 15 and continues on display through October 25, 2003. Daily viewing hours are 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Visitors’ Center is located at 9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, MD, next to the Temple.

The exhibit is comprised of replicas of Dead Sea Scrolls and artifacts from 2,000 years ago, a model of the community of Qumran, and photographs and commentaries. An audio tour guides visitors through the various displays. Of particular interest are:

  • A replica of the Great Isaiah Scroll containing all 66 chapters of the biblical book of Isaiah
  • A representation of the unique Copper Scroll, a record of undiscovered treasure hidden around  Jerusalem, engraved on copper-based metal
  • An interactive prototype of Qumran.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of over 900 biblical and non-biblical writings discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves near the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. Scholars believe they were written by the Essenes, an ancient Jewish group who departed Jerusalem between 250 B.C. and A.D. 70 to practice their religion without opposition. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek on animal skins or papyrus, the scrolls were wrapped in linen and sealed in clay jars.

Except for the book of Esther, fragmentary remains of every book of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) are contained in the scrolls. In addition to these and other religious texts, the scrolls contain writings of legal documents, business records, poetic compositions and

other literature, thus opening a modern-day window into the culture, politics and daily life of ancient Jews.

Dr. Noel B. Reynolds is the director of the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, Brigham Young University and the producer of the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Library on CD-ROM.  Professor Reynolds has served as president of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies and founding director of the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, graduate degrees from Harvard University, and has been a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School, Edinburgh University, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.