Thursday, May 3 marked the beginning of what will be a continuing series of forums about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Local interest in the scrolls has grown with the arrival of several scrolls from Israel, as the Denver Museum of Nature and Science hosts the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. Drs. Rick Hess, Dana Pike, and Craig Blomberg taught a standing room only crowd in the chapel on Denver Seminary campus in Littleton. Dr. Dana Pike, Department Chair of Ancient Scripture in the College of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University gave an overview and background of the scrolls. Dr. Rick Hess, distinguished professor at Denver Seminary, followed with a lesson on the significance of the scrolls with regard to the Old Testament. Dr. Craig Blomberg, also a distinguished professor at Denver Seminary, rounded out the instruction with insight into how the scrolls tie in with the New Testament.
All three professors are members of the Society of Biblical Literature and interact regularly on topics of mutual interest. The three pointed out similarities between the oldest known Hebrew biblical texts created in 1008 AD and our present day Old Testament. With the exception of the book of Esther, all books of the Old Testament are represented in the Dead Sea Scrolls. We learn more about specific importance as we see that multiple copies of select books of the Old Testament were found. The top three most commonly found texts belong to Deuteronomy, Psalms, and Isaiah. Interestingly, these three Old Testament books are also the most frequently referenced books of the Old Testament as one reads through the New Testament.
The presentations were followed with panel members asking one another questions, generating further discussion. The Q&A portion of the evening was conducted by Craig McIlroy, Director of Public Affairs for the Denver South Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to the friendly banter and questions among panelists, audience members were able to pose questions of their own, and the evening concluded on a positive note.
The next day, presenters were hosted by Reverend Annie Arnoldy of St. Andrew United Methodist church of Highlands Ranch. They were joined by Tom Reiners, a lifelong member of the Methodist church. A retired rocket scientist and Dead Sea Scrolls enthusiast, Mr. Reiners serves as a docent at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and takes tours of the exhibition. He added color commentary relevant to the exhibit. The four panelists gave the 450+ attendees a full evening of information and insight. In addition to Mr. Reiners’ contribution, Dr. Pike added further to his presentation, sharing a bit of his experience in Jerusalem. His unique history includes being on the team of 70 plus translators who were invited by Israeli scholar Emmanuel Tov to help translate and publish the scrolls. He shared personal account of the 11 caves in which the 950 fragments were found, and the close connection he experienced with history.
More seminars similar to the two that took place last week are scheduled in the near future. Forums are scheduled for June 21 at Temple Emmanuel, June 22 in Parker, June 23 in our Arvada, and June 24 in Boulder. Check back for details forthcoming.