A standing room only crowd gathered for part 3 of a 4 event lecture series on the Dead Sea Scrolls in Arvada on Saturday, June 23. The event, which was hosted by Trinity Presbyterian Church and
sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, drew members from both faiths as well as others from the community who were interested in learning more about the origins of the scrolls and their relevance to modern religious beliefs.
The Dead Sea Scrolls have been a recent curiosity in the area due to the exhibition at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which opened March 13. The first scrolls were discovered in 1947 in the Qumran community located on the Northwest shore of the Dead Sea.
At the lecture event, entitled “The Religious and Archaeological Significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls” presentations were made by Dr. Andrew Skinner – BYU Professor of Ancient Scripture and Former Dean of Religious Education and Dr. Craig Blomberg – Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Denver Seminary.
Dr. Skinner provided an introduction to the people of the Dead Sea Scrolls and some of the traits that made up their community. He referred to his overview as DSS101 and highlighted the history of finding the scrolls and the geography of the area. He described the people of the Dead Sea Scrolls as the Qumran Covenanters and noted the duality of light versus dark in their writings and the importance of their monastic lifestyles. He also stressed “How important the covenant was to the renewal or restoration of Israel’s religious life. It’s all about covenants and making covenants was central to one’s life.”
Dr. Blomberg focused his remarks on the parallels of the Dead Sea Scrolls to texts in the New Testament. He discussed the possible connection between John the Baptist and the Essenes, a group of Jews commonly believed to be the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the similarities to a writing in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Beatitudes of the New Testament. Dr. Skinner closed his remarks by saying, “Qumran texts are a reminder that connections between religious groups are more complicated than we may give them credit for.”
Rev. John Anderson, Pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church, was pleased with the turnout and the event. “It’s always a great thing when faith communities come together and partner. What a wonderful experience for us to share our common interest in Biblical texts.” President Scott Horsley of the Arvada Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints shared a similar sentiment, “This event was a wonderful example of how we can get two faith groups together to talk about topics that are important to our community. Ancient scriptures such as the Dead Sea Scrolls are important to our faith as well as many others. What a rich blessing it is for us to join in learning more about the word of God.”
Over 600 ancient Middle Eastern artifacts and 10 of the Dead Sea Scrolls, possibly dating back as far as 200 BCE, are on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science now through September 3, 2018. More details can be found here: www.dmns.org/dead-sea-scrolls/.