Dead Sea Scrolls Awaken Local Interests

Museums are full of exciting archeological finds. Visitors line up daily to view that which was once lost. At the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS), recent exhibitions have included discoveries from the days of Vikings, mummies from around the world, and a hands-on interface with the world of robotics. But of all the discoveries that fill the halls and interests of its patrons, one discovery stands above the rest in significance and import. That is the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

After a 10-year effort, the DMNS gained a victory in bringing the scrolls to the city of Denver. Scholars, religious academics, and experts alike are thrilled with the once in a lifetime chance to have the scrolls in close proximity. With great anticipation, those who know most about the historical weight of these scrolls prepare for their arrival. Once lost to the world, the transcripts of what has become the Bible were found by a Bedouin shepherd decades ago.

The painstaking process of piecing together, reading and translating the records began. After years of labor, including a variety of techniques and with the help of many experts, the scrolls are available for public viewing. The collaborative efforts to translate has continued in the sharing of the documents. Museum directors created an advisory committee specific to the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit.

Merlin and Carol Jenson of the Highlands Ranch Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are two who serve on the advisory committee. After the museum contacted church leaders to appoint a member of the LDS community for the board, Merlin and Carol were named. Other committee members include faculty from Denver Seminary, Iliff School of Theology, Regis, and religious and civic leaders.  Dr. Alison Schofield, Associate Professor of Religious and Judaic Studies at the University of Denver, currently serves as editor-in-chief of the Dead Sea Scrolls and also serves on the advisory committee.

As the Jensons have worked with fellow committee members, their enthusiasm for the exhibition’s arrival has grown. “I’m just excited to be part of something that has such broad interest. The scrolls are a source of enthusiasm for various religions, scholars, and archaeologists,” acknowledges Brother Jenson. Carol reports that as she’s gotten to know others on the committee, she is enjoying the increase in “…energy and that we have found something in common.” Surely, they have. Between the content, location, and history, the scrolls’ significance applies to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam alike.

With such a broad base of appeal, the Dead Sea Scrolls’ impending arrival is sure to enliven Denver residents and church members alike. Those looking to awaken interest in history as it touches the present day can find what they’re looking for at the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. General ticket sales begin January 15, with the exhibition open March 16 through September 3.

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