FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered over 60 years ago and are keys to biblical times. Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth is planning an exhibition in July featured 16 scroll fragments. Wednesday, they gave us a sneak peak of a fragment not shown yet to the public.
The fragment is 14.5 centimeters long and 8 centimeters high. It was put on display for CBS 11 in the MacGorman Chapel. Seminary President, Dr. Paige Patterson, is thankful to have it.
“We are mostly grateful to God for His kindness to us,” he said.
The scrap is called Paleo Leviticus. Paleo means old and Leviticus is the name of the third book in the old testament.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered in 1947. A shepherd looking for a goat threw a rock into a cave in Qumran and heard something shatter.
The scrolls were placed in eleven caves in all. The Paleo Leviticus fragment wasn’t discovered until 1956 in Cave 11.
The fragment eventually changed hands with antiquities dealers.
“We’re fortunate to even have the cigar box which served as the vehicle for its delivery,” Dr. Patterson said.
“This offers us a glimpse into the past, a once in a lifetime chance to look at what the bible looked like over 2,000 years ago,” said Ryan Stokes.
Stokes, who spent years studying Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and other ancient literature is the lead translator on the scrolls at the seminary.
“I never dreamed that one day I would get to work with actual copies of the bible from over 2,000 years ago,” he said.
One of the scriptures in the fragment is Leviticus 22:21. It tells how a special offering needs to be without defect or blemish which is symbolic of the Messiah.
Steven Ortiz, a Biblical Archeology Professor at the seminary said, “What we do in archeology is actually put the flesh and blood on the actual stories.”
Ortiz is currently involved in two important digs in Israel and Cyprus.
He said, “I think a lot of times, people sitting in pews hear these stories and think of them like Aesops Fables and what we do in archeology is actually put the flesh and blood on the actual stories.”
The fragment adds another piece in the fabric of Judaism and Christianity.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has 8 such pieces now and will have 16 scroll fragments on display for the general public in a major exhibit called “Dead Sea Scrolls & The Bible: Ancient Artifacts. Timeless Treasures.” The sixth month exhibit starts in July of this year and ends in January of next year.
“It’s almost as if God favored us in a special way to give us access to some of the oldest passages of scripture that we have,” Dr. Patterson said.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will display the 16 scroll fragments starting July 2nd and ending in January of 2013.
For more information on how to purchase tickets log onto their website SeeTheScrolls.com.