The exhibit is being presented by Joan and Irwin Jacobs of San Diego, California. Mr. Jacobs is one of the two partners who founded Qualcomm. This is the company that invented the CDMA format that makes cell phones work. This family is one of the leading philanthropic families in the United States.
The exhibit covers 12,000 square feet of the Museum of Natural History in San Diego's Balboa Park which is located just south of the famous San Diego Zoo.
We went on a Friday afternoon and there were quite a few visitors. The entry fee is rather steep for my tastes, some $27.00 for adults. There is a discount for children and seniors and the prices are lower from Monday through Thursday. Security is tight and remiscent of our visit to the Holy Land which was detailed here some months ago. In fact my wife said, "Hmm, this is like crossing over to the West Bank." Somewhat, but without the need for a passport. You will be asked to produce I.D. A driver license will suffice.
The Dead Sea Scrolls are important biblical manuscripts that were discovered in the caves of Qumran, a city some 40 miles south of Jerusalem, not far from the Dead Sea. None of the scrolls are related to the New Testament. All of them on display are fragments. The amount of work and patience that it takes to put them back together and make sense of them is staggering. Part of the exhibit is a demonstration of how the people who are dedicated to this work do it. The scrolls make up one of three parts of the show.
The first part is a series of stunning photographs of Israel itself. It is interesting to see these photos because they tell so much about the land of Israel. I was impressed at this introduction to the scrolls themselves. Part of the photograph study takes the visitor through the site of the discovery itself and introduces the key players in the recovery and study of the artifacts. There are different hypotheses as to the way the discovery, recovery and study of the scrolls. The exhibit is presented in such a way as to conduct the visitor through one of the theories, the oldest one, and the one that was constructed by the Dominican who was first put in charge of the project, Father De Vaux.
The second part of the exhibit is the showing of the scrolls themselves. They are not easy to see and the lighting is not always sufficient for old eyes like mine. When I go back, I will bring along a loupe to help me out when I get to this part of the layout. There are only 12 scrolls, but I found that it is enough to give a flavor of what it is that was found. Each fragment is accompanied by its biblical or in some cases, its non-biblical reference and its translation.
Down the hall the exhibit comes to its conclusion with a stunning array of ancient illuminated bibles.
The first part of the exhibit is guided by plaques on the wall. The other two parts are self - guided with the help of hand held recorders. The rental of this apparatus is included in the entry fee. The exhibit is not meant to be for the technical experts in the field of Bible Study or archeology. It is aimed at the general public, and the general public can enjoy it and learn much about the question of where the Bible comes from and how it is assembled into one common sense piece of work. The exhibit is also not meant to stir controversy. It puts forth one story, and one story only. It is a very plausible theory and stands quite strongly to this very day. The tri-folds that are available at the site provide schedules of professional presentations dedicated to providing more insights to the various questions being raised about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some of that information can also be obtained by clicking here.
The exhibit will be open to the public until December 31, 2007. It is my opinion that thoses of you who live in Southern California, or will be in the area between now and the end of the year should make it a point to spend the 2 to 3 hours that it takes to make the tour. There are more specifics about it here. If you go to this one, you will not have to cry at my funeral.