Editor’s note: In May, Pope Francis, head of the Roman Catholic Church, met in Jerusalem with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, “first among equals” among the various patriarchs of 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Advocate photographer Bill Feig was there. This is the second in an occasional series of photos from Feig’s journey.
Jerusalem is marked by many museums.
Since 1992, one popular spot is the Bible Lands Museum, founded by Elie Borowski (1913-2003) to house his personal collection of biblical artifacts.
The museum looks at the geographic regions, cultures and historical periods covered in the Bible.
The museum houses more than 4,000 pieces of ancient Near East artifacts arranged in chronological order, leading from the dawn of civilization to the early Christian era. Scriptural quotes related to artifacts are displayed.
The museum also features scale models of sites such as of Jerusalem as it was in the year 66, when the Temple was destroyed.
The museum houses some of the Dead Sea Scrolls in a building that is a replica of the lids of the vessels in which the scrolls were found.
These ancient documents have been known to modern audiences only since 1947, when a Bedouin shepherd found what would turn into a tremendous find for Bible scholars. The Dead Sea Scrolls filled gaps in knowledge about the Bible and about life in the Holy Land from the fourth century B.C. to A.D. 135. The find gave scholars manuscripts that have guided modern Bible translations.
A Bedouin was searching for a goat that strayed. He threw a stone into a cave and ran away because he heard something break. Curious about the cave, he and a friend returned to explore it and found several pottery jars 10 inches wide and 25 to 29 inches tall with scrolls wrapped in linen covered in pitch.
When the scrolls, which included a complete copy of the Bible book Isaiah, reached Jerusalem, experts declared them worthless. However, scientific testing and research about the writing styles dated the scrolls at least 1,900 years old, making them at least 1,000 years older than the oldest Hebrew Bible documents known at the time. Four scrolls of the original find sold for $100. Those four sold for $250,000 seven years later in 1954.
The find sparked more searches. Between the Bedouin and archaeologists, scrolls were found in 11 caves near the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea.
More than 800 papyrus and parchment texts have been located. These include all of the Old Testament books except Esther.
Some are complete, but many are fragments. Some, such as Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Psalms, are represented by many scrolls at Qumran. Most of the writings are Hebrew, but the fragments include part of the Septuagint, the first known Greek translation of the Old Testament. Some writings, such as Job, are in Aramaic.
In addition to the Old Testament, parts of the Apocrypha in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, a hymn book similar to Psalms, and commentaries on the books of the Bible were in the find. Writings of the nearby Qumran community , including rule books and histories, give glimpses of life in the community. Other items included liturgical texts, law collections and ethical tracts.
Sources: www.goisrael.com; blmj.org; afblmj.org; Everyday Life in Bible Times, National Geographic Society; The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, editors; Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia of World Religions, Wendy Doniger, editor; Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary; Dictionary of Biblical Literacy, Cecil B. Mumphrey; The Dead Sea Scrolls, Millar Burrows; World Book; orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/educate/educate.shtml